When Dave Stephens invited members of the RMB forum to backpack to the Stanley Mitchell Hut in Little Yoho Valley and climb four peaks in one day, it caught the attention of several scramblers. While many people showed interest, only five would join him.
On Friday morning Dave, Vern and Sonny hiked in and bagged Isolated Peak before retiring to the hut. That afternoon, Linda, Dinah and I started up the trail and reached the hut around 6:00 p.m.. It rained all the way to the hut and we arrived wet and cold, but we received a warm welcome. For the first time Linda, Dinah and I met Dave and Vern. Like everyone else I've met on the forum, Dave and Vern were affable, quick to laugh and eager to bag new peaks.
It rained all night. Vern, Linda, Dinah and I shared the upper bunk at the hut, a very big bunk I hasten to add! We fell into conversation and laughter until an occupant in the lower bunk chastised us to be quiet. Meanwhile, outside the hut, Dave and Sonny shared a tent.
By the following morning the rain had stopped, and we geared up and hit the trail. Because of fresh snow, this would not be the multi-peak day that we had planned; we would only bag Mount Kerr.
Mount Kerr is an easy scramble in dry conditions, but under snow it became a moderate scramble with a difficult crux. Nor did the weather cooperate. We started under blue skies but clouds soon rolled in. Dave and Vern set a brisk pace while the rest of us followed far behind.
We had no trouble following the trail to Kiwetinok Pass, but to reach the pass we had to kick-step up a steep snow bank. From the pass we scrambled up the snow-covered lower slopes of Mount Kerr. It was miserable going on the snow-covered loose rocks. On a long, steep stretch of deep snow, Dave and Vern kicked in steps while Dinah, Linda and I literally followed in their footsteps.
The weather continued to deteriorate as we climbed. Clouds and mist cut off views that would probably have been spectacular on a clear day, and the biting cold forced us to add layers. There was no reason to lollygag and we steadily moved up the mountain.
On the ridge crest we encountered a short rock band that dropped down. We couldn't downclimb it because of snow, so Sonny, Vern and Dave jumped down about five feet into soft snow. From there it was less than ten minutes to the summit.
I hung back for Dinah and Linda but by the time the girls reached me, Dave and Vern had already bagged the peak and returned to the crux. Here Linda balked at doing the "leap of faith." But eventually she jumped, and Dinah and I followed. Soon we were on the summit snapping photos.
When we returned to the crux, we Sonny had waited to help us. Meanwhile, Dave and Vern continued down to the pass. All five of us, however, scrambled down to the lower snow-covered slopes where we could glissade. We watched Dave and Vern neatly somersault over the snow edge and slide for a short ways. Sonny, on the other hand, lost control and tumbled down the slope, banging his leg on his ice axe in the process. Linda, Dinah and I simply hiked around the steep section of the snow bank.
After dropping down below the pass and out of the wind we stopped for lunch before hiking back to the hut. We bagged a minor peak that day, but the fun and adventure that we had that weekend remains more indelible in my mind.
Dinah and Linda starting up the trail
Hiking up the trail to Stanley Mitchell Hut
A few minutes after leaving the hut, Mount Kerr comes into view
The trail was still dry here
Here snow covers the trail
Pausing to take in the scenery
Almost at the pass
On top of Kiwetinok Pass
Leaving the pass to ascend the summit
Soft, fresh snow makes the ascent troublesome
Looking back at Kiwetinok Pass and Lake
Dave kicks steps into the snow with Vern following close behind
On the ridge leading to the summit
At the crux, Dave coaxes Linda to jump
Sonny, Vern and Dave scramble up the last few metres to the summit
Linda and Dinah on the summit. The true summit is on the left.
Group shot on a break on our descent, L to R: me, Dinah, Dave, Vern, Linda and Sonny
82 N/10 Blaeberry River