May 10, 2011

Skiing the Sickle - Mt. Victoria

The Chief making his return to the Rockies on the summit ridge of Victoria.

It's hard to imagine a better day in the mountains than what Ali and I just experienced. Our goal was the Sickle on Mt. Victoria - a line we tried and failed on last July and swore never to return to unless we could ski the entire way up and down from Lake Louise.

After a painfully early start from Canmore, we left the Lake Louise parking area at just past 3am and skated across the lake. Travel conditions were firm and fast and we were soon at the mouth of the Death Trap. We hustled through this section and didn't take a break until we were at the exposed ramp leading out right to the base of the route. On the way up, I took a good look at the huge cliffs we would be traversing above, and struggled to come up with a positive mental strategy to deal with the hazard. Of course, nothing I tried made me feel any better about launching in to space, and despite the good travel conditions, I found myself gripped for most of the traverse.

The rest of the climb was straight forward and mellow compared to the entrance. The last pitch to the summit probably touched around 55 degrees but the snow was perfect and had us stoked for the ride down.

Looking over at Victoria from the slopes of Mt. Lefroy last July.

Getting ready to start the traverse over the cliffs in the background.

This is a photo of Eammon and I retreating from the traverse last year. For a good and scary account of getting avalanched on this feature, check out chris b's story . Ali Haeri Photo.

Still traversing.

It was a big relief to be done with the traverse and heading straight for the summit chains.

Compared to the NE Face of the South Summit, the Sickle looks small. But once you're on it, it seems to go on forever.

Still going...

The steepest section comes just below the top.

Almost there... Ali Haeri Photo.

Boom! Ali on the summit ridge at around 3300 meters.

The snow had just started to soften up and made for pretty good skiing.

Ali changed outfits for this photo. Ali Haeri Photo.

The middle part of the face.

Ali really stepped on the gas once he started thinking about coffee in Lake Louise.

The ski out was awesome and the traverse above the cliffs felt mellow on the way down. We were also treated to perfect corn skiing from the Death Trap all the way to the lake.

1 comment:

MikeK said...

So awesome that you skied Victoria summit and sickle! Awesome web site man!