October 24, 2015
Garibaldi Provincial Park / Whistler, BC
Among the peaks by Wedgemount Lake, Mt. Moe seems to be the one that doesn’t often get climbed. One probable reason is that you have to ascend up and over Mt. Cook to access it but to be fair, that’s not a long way over (certainly shorter than the scramble route, W. Ridge of Wedge Mountain). In fact, most beta I got was from ski mountaineering parties doing one of the bigger traverses in this region. In the height of summer a strong party should have no problem traversing Cook – Moe – Weart in one long day, but as of late October I had to break them down into 2 days. Earlier in the trip I’d already ascended Mt. Weart by its standard SE Ridge, and then Mt. Cook by the west slopes.
From the summit of Mt. Cook my first business was to drop down to Cook/Weart col. To my surprise that’s such a short way over (only 66 m elevation loss according to bivouac.com). And then I had to work my over to Weart/Moe col and to get there I had to traverse about 1 km on a glacier. From satellite images this glacier appears to be fairly tame but that’s not the case. I could see a few sizable crevasses already from earlier observations and on top of that, the thin fresh snow coverage had made glacier travel specially tricky. Crampons on and down I went. Lots of careful probing were required as I slowly slowly worked my way through some crevasse field.
From Weart/Moe col I had to find a way to gain the rocky ridge immediately in front of me. I went climber’s left side to ascend a steep (frozen) scree slope on crampons and it was not fun. (On the way back I just went straight down the nose and discovered a hidden ledge that worked perfectly). Traversing the rocky ridge I soon had to realize that there’s no easy way to gain the summit from the SW Ridge nor S. Face thank to the crazy melt-out in this summer. In winter/spring time I’m sure the S. Face would work but on this particular day I had to traverse way over to the climber’s right onto the E. Ridge. That meant another section of glacier travel and I could see even this flat glacier had quite a few crevasses on it (and partially covered by snow). I opted a line side-hilling above the small ‘schrund and eventually managed to work my way over. Ditching crampons I soon started the scrambling.
To gain the E. Ridge proper there’s a section of very loose terrain on nothing but boulders and rubble, but once through this crap the E. Ridge was fairly solid and fun. There’s minimal hands-on from now and it’s a simple plod to the summit. The views were great with the N. Face of Mt. Weart stealing the show.
On the descent I simply retraced my route down the E. Ridge, across that small glacier onto the S. Ridge extension and then onto the bigger glacier. I followed my exact tracks back across that crevasse field and over to Weart/Cook col. From here I had two choices. I could have descended beside Armchair Glacier following more-or-less a straight line back to camp without having to re-ascend Mt. Cook, but that route especially the upper section looked fairly loose. The summit of Mt. Cook didn’t look that far so I opted to go back the same way. And once down to within 100 vertical meters of the lake I finally deviated from my ascent route and picked a direct line back to camp.
Now I had to make another decision. It’s apparent that some weather was moving in from the south judging by the increasing cloudiness throughout this day and combing with the weather forecast I estimated the following day to be miserable. I wasn’t particularly interested in ascending anything (Parkhurst/Rethel) in bad weather plus the standard route over to Parkhurst/Rethel col was looking ugly in late season conditions. It’s late afternoon and that meant I had about 2+ hours of daylight time. Instead of staying at camp for another night and packing up in the cold morning with possible rain/snow I decided to just head down immediately. The 7-km hike-out was uneventful except for hordes of people that I met (some at the lake, some on their way down and even a few on their way up).
Overall this was a great trip bagging 3 peaks by this beautiful area in the late fall. Not sure if I’ll go back here in the same season though as those boulders and rubble was quite miserable to ascend. It appears that most peaks by this area are better done in early summer or late spring on snow and I’m already looking forward to climb the classic NE Arete of Wedge Mountain and the remote Mt. James Turner at some point.