After taking a short break, we thrashed through some very thick undergrowth before breaking out below the mouth of a short canyon near the bottom of the gully. Unfortunately, I lost my GPS unit somewhere in the undergrowth, and I backtracked briefly in a vain attempt to locate it. When I re-emerged empty-handed from the bushes, some of the group who were further up yelled out that there was a bear coming down the gully. They retreated to a bench to climber’s right of the canyon to allow the bear a chance to pass. Fabrice had hung back to wait for me, and together, we both also veered to climber’s right to avoid the bear which we could now identify as a grizzly. Fortunately, the bear paid little attention to us and nonchalantly disappeared into the thick undergrowth from which we had just emerged. All things considered, we were very fortunate to encounter the bear before entering the short canyon where there would have been no room to maneuver. Perhaps we were also very fortunate not to run into the bear in the thick undergrowth as well.
Entering the short canyon, we hiked up the same beaten path the bear had come down and even spotted some fresh scat. Unfortunately, there would be little further excitement for the next three hours as we slogged up hundreds of metres of tedious treadmill scree. A large snow patch about three-quarters of the way up helped alleviate some of the drudgery, and we took frequent breaks to re-fuel and re-hydrate. We eventually reached the shoulder at the top of the gully where we were afforded some eye-popping views of Mounts Lefroy and Victoria. Another short but steep plod brought us to the summit of Mount Aberdeen.
None of us were on top of Mount Aberdeen for long before we started descending the summit ridge toward Haddo Peak. After a short traverse along the exposed ridge, we easily descended a break in the cliffs which allowed us access to the glacier on Mount Aberdeen's east face. A rocky bench just below the break in the cliffs allowed us a comfortable spot to don our crampons and break out our ice axes. While some of the snow on the glacier was not as supportive as we would have liked, we generally had no issues getting down to the dry col between Mount Aberdeen and Haddo Peak. We ditched our crampons there and enjoyed an easy walk to the summit of Haddo Peak.
Although there were discussions earlier in the day about descending into Paradise Valley directly from Haddo Peak, the uncertainty of attempting such a tricky descent persuaded us to stick with the tedious but straightforward return over the summit of Mount Aberdeen. The climb back up was actually quite enjoyable, and I began to understand why most mountaineers would probably still prefer to ascend Mount Aberdeen via the classic glacier route. From the top of Mount Aberdeen, we basically retraced our steps down the large avalanche gully. Some sections of scree were loose enough to afford some decent surfing, and the aforementioned snow patch provided a much-welcomed opportunity for glissading. There was no sign of the bear when we reached the bottom of the avalanche gully, and I half-heartedly searched for my missing GPS unit but to no avail. Hoping to minimize bushwhacking, we continued down to the north bank of Paradise Creek where we found bits of trail to follow downstream. Unfortunately, we still had to contend with some heinous bushwhacking along the way, but we eventually regained the decommissioned trail much to our relief and none the worse for wear. The rest of the hike out was easy but painfully long, and we did not arrive back at the trailhead until 7:33 PM (round-trip time of 14 hours 11 minutes). Tired but happy, we all parted ways from the trailhead, and I had ample time on the drive home to reflect on the ups and downs, both literally and figuratively, of a most memorable trip.
Be sure to check out
Josée's and Fabrice's trip report
here. Mount Lefroy is the centrepiece in this view to the
west and is flanked by Hungabee Mountain (left) and Mount Victoria
(right). Sonny, Charles, Derek,
Josée, Fabrice, and Jay gather on the summit of
Haddo Peak with Mount Aberdeen behind them. Southeast of Haddo Peak is Lake Annette and Mount
Paradise Creek flows below the great
north face of Mount Temple.
The group gets their first good look
at Mount Aberdeen (left) from the decommissioned trail.
The group disappears into the bush
after leaving the decommissioned trail. At left is Wastach
This large avalanche gully grants easy
access to the top of Mount Aberdeen (right).
The group hikes just beyond the short
canyon near the bottom of the gully.
The group pauses for one of several
breaks en route to the top.
The slog continues up the scree slope.
On the far side of Paradise Valley are (L to R) Sentinel Pass,
Pinnacle Mountain, Eiffel Peak, Deltaform Mountain (shrouded in
clouds), and Neptuak Mountain which is nearly hidden behind Wastach
nodding cockles (Silene uralensis) grow in the avalanche
The group takes advantage of the
lingering snow patch which is much easier to ascend than the rubble.
The top of Hungabee Mountain is barely
visible in the clouds.
Although it looks like a col from
below, the gap is actually a shoulder below the summit block of Mount
The group stops for a rest at the
shoulder. Mount Lefroy (far left) and Mount Victoria dominate
The group pushes up the last stretch
before the summit.
Fabrice and Derek climb up from the
shoulder. Mount Lefroy gleams in the sunshine.
Fabrice takes the last few steps
before the summit.
Fairview Mountain and Haddo Peak garner
the most attention in this view looking east from the summit of Mount
The view to the north includes Mount
St. Piran and Lake Louise. Also visible in the distance is
Mount Hector (left of centre) and a bit of Hector Lake (far left).
Sonny stands on the 3159-metre summit
of Mount Aberdeen. Behind him is Hungabee Mountain.
Fabrice traverses the exposed summit
The group descends the glacier on the
east side of Mount Aberdeen.
The group leaves the yard sale at the
col and heads for the summit of Haddo Peak.
Sonny is all smiles while standing on
the 3084-metre summit of Haddo Peak.
To the west are Mount Victoria (in
clouds), Collier Peak (centre), and Popes Peak (right).
Fairview Mountain, Saddle Mountain,
and Sheol Mountain occupy the foreground in this view to the east.
The Lake Louise ski area can be seen across the valley at left.
The best view from the summit of Haddo
Peak is that of Mount Aberdeen and its splendid glacier.
An old-school copper tube houses the
summit register of Haddo Peak.
The register is in remarkably good
shape after nearly 41 years.
The group climbs back up the glacier
toward Mount Aberdeen.
Fabrice (lower right) elects to walk
where the snow coverage is thinner to give his crampons better
purchase on the ice.
The group approaches the summit block
of Mount Aberdeen.
The group climbs back up the summit
Here is one last look at Haddo Peak
from Mount Aberdeen.
Josée traverses the large snow patch in preparation
for a lengthy
The last good view of the day is of
Mount Lefroy is the centrepiece in this view to the west and is flanked by Hungabee Mountain (left) and Mount Victoria (right).
Sonny, Charles, Derek, Josée, Fabrice, and Jay gather on the summit of Haddo Peak with Mount Aberdeen behind them.
Southeast of Haddo Peak is Lake Annette and Mount Temple.