Once we descended from Christian Peak and looped back to our traverse tracks from the day before, we decided to give Arctomys Peak a try. I think we all underestimated the amount of effort required to get all the way over to the eastern edge of the Lyell Icefield from the south ridge of Christian Peak, never mind the effort to then descend 400 vertical meters, cross another small icefield and then re-ascend to the summit of Arctomys. Now reverse it all the way back to the Lyell Hut!! Sometimes we are just suckers for punishment.
Friday, June 26 was a lot longer and involved than we originally planned it – a one day record amount of height gain for me at around 11,000 feet in total. It involved the entire approach to the Lyell Hut from the Valenciennes forestry service road and the subsequent ascents of Ernest, Edward and Rudolph peaks – three 11,000ers. We agreed to “sleep in” on Saturday and therefore didn’t get up until 06:00. You know you’re an alpinist when 06:00 is considered sleeping in.
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.
Next to Ernest Peak, Edward (Lyell II) was pretty darn tame. Other than the fact that the height gains and distances were starting to add up and the day was getting long, there were absolutely no difficulties getting to the summit of the purported, but debatable of the highest of the Lyells. The views were not much less spectacular than from Ernest Peak but we didn’t linger too long at the top. We still had Rudolph (Lyell I) to do, not to forget the long trudge back to the Lyell Hut and the shadows were definitely lengthening.
After a gorgeous 8 hour approach via Icefall Brook / Canyon, we found ourselves at the small, tidy Lyell Hut around noon with many hours of beautiful sunny weather staring back at us. I think it was Ben who initially started musing that perhaps we should “go for Lyell 1, 2 and 3 (Rudolph, Edward and Ernest) today yet”. Wait, what?! When I first overheard his murmured suggestion I thought I must be dreaming. I’d never heard of anyone doing the entire Lyell Hut approach on foot and then 3 of the 5 Lyells on the same day. As we thought about it though, it started to make a bit of sense. The snow was still holding up quite well and this was the coolest day in the forecast. Why not take advantage and go for a few summits already? Why not indeed.
I heard a rumor already years ago, that there was a route near the Icefall Lodge that didn’t involve going the normal Icefall Lodge, helicopter or Glacier Lake approaches. Although there is nothing wrong with either of the Icefall Lodge routes (either Tivoli Shoulder or Crampon Col), this other route was rumored to be shorter, have spectacular views and was entirely self-supported. The Glacier Lake approach route never sounded that attractive to me, with talk of route finding, bushwhacking, steep and loose scree and days spent just on the approach. I must admit, however, that after doing this approach for Mount Forbes in late April 2016, my view of it has improved somewhat.
On April 26 2013 I joined Steven Song for an ascent of Survey Peak along the icefields parkway at Saskatchewan Crossing. As you can see from the route image below, Survey Peak isn’t rocket science as far as Rockies summits goes. This was intentional on our part, due to completing a pretty big weekend 3 days previous on Wilson and also due to a questionable weather forecast.