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Rudolph Peak (Lyell I)

Summit Elevation (m): 3507
Elevation Gain (m): 1350 from hut, 3200+ from Valenciennes FSR
Round Trip Time (hr): 9 from hut
Total Trip Distance (km): 14 from hut
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: Remote mountain bush roads, indistinct and exposed trail and glacier travel in very remote terrain.
GPS Track DownloadDownload GPX File
Technical Rating: MN7; YDS (II)
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Edward Peak was easy after the ‘schrund on Ernest, but what would Rudolph be like? Well – it was smack in the middle of the previous two. We had no technical issues up it’s south ridge, it was a moderate scramble at most. The only difference between it and the other Lyell peaks, is that Rudolph is a rock scramble rather than a snow climb. There was some exposure down the east face, but it was avoidable, if desired.

Ernest Edward & Rudolph Route Map from the Lyell Hut
At the Rudolph / Edward col, looking up at the moderate scramble to Rudolph’s summit along the rock on the right hand edge of the southwest face. Erasmus and Arctomys to the right of Rudolph.
There is some fantastic exposure off the east face of Lyell I if you stray close to the edge of the scramble route.
Looking back to the southwest at our easy descent of Edward Peak. Note our track right over a fairly large bergschrund! Christian Peak left of center.

The views from the lofty summit of Rudolph Peak were, of course excellent but the shadows were getting longer and longer as we finally topped out on our third 11,000er of the day. I was forecasting an 18 hour day by the time we got back to the hut and well over 3,000 meters of height gain on the day. A day filled with mind-blowing views and quite overwhelming to be honest.

Looking east (l), south (c) and west (r) over the Valley of Lakes with Monchy, Erasmus and Arctomys at left. Forbes and Mons Peak at center and Christian, Edward and Ernest at right.
Fantastic views deep into the headwaters of the Alexandra River at lower center. Peaks include Alexandra, Oppy, Bryce, King Edward and of course, Mount Columbia (L to R).

For the descent between Rudolph and Edward peaks, we chose to take off the snowshoes and use our crampons instead. The slope was steep with two bergschrunds cutting across it and even a small icefall to pass through. Corbett mentions a route up Edward Peak’s east face direct to the summit, that is now an overhanging serac with a pretty large ‘schrund splitting across it. Maybe in a very high snow year?! The warming climate is certainly having an effect on many of the snow / ice 11,000ers, especially in 2015 with an extremely dry and warm spring / early summer.


Interesting Facts on Rudolph Peak

Named by Sydney R. Vallance in 1972. Aemmer, Rudolph (Rudolph Aemmer was an early mountaineering guide in the Canadian Rockies.) (see biog.) Official name. Other names One of five peaks on Mount Lyell. First ascended in 1926 by Alfred J. Ostheimer, M.M. Strumia, J. Monroe Thorington, guided by Edward Feuz jr.. Journal reference CAJ 16-142.


Eventually the ‘shoes came back on and the never ending plod began – back across the main Lyell Icefield, back up and over Christian Peak’s south ridge and down and up to the hut before finally descending to a very welcome abode just as darkness settled in around us.

Traversing through deep shadows back to our ascent tracks as daylight fades quickly.
Views down Arctomys Creek towards Erasmus and Sullivan Peak with Arctomys at foreground right. We would enjoy even more stunning views back in this direction the next day from the summit of Arctomys.

Our stats for day one were enough to make me tired just thinking of them. I think I set a new personal distance / height gain record for a single day trip, with over 26km distance and 3350m (~11,000) feet of height gain in 18 hours of almost continuous travel. 12km of distance and 2,000 vertical meters were with large and heavy alpine packs on the approach to the Lyell Hut. Considering our egress time of only 4 hours, technically you could approach the Lyells from the Valenciennes FSR with a day pack, climb three or four of them and go all the way back down in less than 24 hours if you’re fit and motivated enough. You’d be rushing through some terrain that’s better spent with some meditation though.

A sublime sunset just before we have to regain height to the Lyell Hut.

I had a feeling I might be sore the next day and popped a couple of stretches-in-a-bottle, AKA Vitamin I before consuming some serious calories and heading up to pass out on my bunk until the next morning. Our plans for day two was to scope out Walter Peak’s west glacier and possibly ascend this hardest of the Lyell peaks before ascending Christian Peak – the fifth of the Lyells.

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