August 19, 2013

Climbing The East Ridge of Edith Cavell

Nearing the summit of Mt. Edith Cavell via the East Ridge. Sara H photo.

On Aug 11, Sara H and I drove up to Jasper through heavy rain, with hopes of climbing the East Ridge of Edith Cavell. Sara had tried the route a few times previously, but had been shut down by bad weather, road closures or massive chunks of falling glacier. So it seemed about right that this attempt would also meet an early demise. But when we left the car at 4:30 the next morning, the only things in the sky were stars and streaks of light from the Perseid Meteor Shower. Still, thunder showers were expected to roll in around noon so we were optimistic that we wouldn't have to climb the entire mountain. But if there's one thing that seems consistent in the grand scheme of the universe, it's the unwritten law that states something about things happening when you least expect them to.

A fitting start to the day. I opted to do the climb in approach shoes because my boots were aggravating my ankles. This worked pretty well and saved my feet on the long walk out.

Nice weather on the lower half of the ridge.

Cool light and clouds to the east. Sara H Photo.

Around 8 am, we took a break on the flat ridge splitting the lower and upper halves of the peak. The weather was threatening so we decided to wait for a bit and see what would happen. Eventually, the clouds split, the sun came out and we continued up. Sara H Photo.

Standing below the upper ridge. This part is steeper than the lower half of the route but doesn't get any harder than 5.3. And as many people have said, the route might have the best quality rock of any 11,000 ft+ mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

We brought crampons and light axes but could have gotten away without either. Sara H Photo.

Great stone. Sara H Photo.

Having a time above the North Face.

Walking the summit ridge. Since we carried the stuff up,we decided to put the ice axes and crampons to use.

Using Sara as a crutch to stand up straight.

For better or worse, we opted to descend the long West Ridge. For anybody taking this option, it is really beneficial to head down to the Sorrow - Edith Cavell Col proper before bashing down the scree covered bowl. And don't stray too far lookers right in the photo or you'll get nice and cliffed out. It's worth taking the time to make sure you are on a fairly well traveled path the whole way down.

The East Ridge skyline and the North Face from the road. 

In the end, the climb took 12.5 hours r/t. We brought a 60 meter, 8mm rope and used it a few times on the upper ridge. Three Camalots from 0.5 - 1 seemed fine along with 4 - 5 draws.