Tuesday, May  26, 2020
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Day 3 - Summit Day
Summit day dawns. It is perfectly clear, and weather is fairly mild for late September. The company has brought in extra instructors to improve the student-to-guide ratio for the summit climb. Unfortunately we are grouped with one of the 'extra' instructors - one who has no prior experience with us. This is to almost be our undoing later on in the day. In any case, this shot shows us trudging up the Little-A glacier towards the summit. [enlarge]
Crevasse on the Little A
As we get higher, we start to encounter snow bridges over crevasses, which we carefully circumnavigate. [enlarge]
Sunrise at 9500 feet
The early-morning sun shines into the valley below us as we continue to make good time. [enlarge]
Icefields center and parkway from way up
The icefields center looks very small from 10,000 feet. [enlarge]
A Wilderness of Peaks
As we get higher, the view of the peaks to the north is spectacular. I am not sure of the names of the peaks in the distance, but they may be Mount Woolley, Diadem Peak, and Mushroom Peak. [enlarge]
Andromeda and Snow Dome
As we gain the crest of the north ridge of Mount Athabasca, we can suddenly see west over to the Columbia Icefield. Mount Andromeda rises to the left, and the highest point of the Icefield, Snow Dome (3459m /11,340 ft), is visible as a broad rise. Snow Dome is a triple divide; Water (ice) flowing down from this point ultimately flows into the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. [enlarge]
Sunwapta Valley from above
A view down into the Sunwapta River valley from high up on Mount Athabasca [enlarge]
Markus takes a breather at 11,000 feet
Nearing the final summit ridge, Markus stops for a well-deserved rest break. [enlarge]
A guide and his student
One of the New Zealand guides, and one of the students. [enlarge]
Athabasca - The Summit Ridge
The final, narrow, exciting summit ridge. It is now about 10:30am and we are sure we are going to make the summit. That is, until we are told by the lead instructor that we are too late and that we have missed the turn-around time. Since this turnaround time was never communicated to us, and since the day is still early, and since the weather is perfect, Markus and I raise our ires a bit. [enlarge]
Markus eyes his goal
After a bit of hasty conversation with another high-ranking instructor, it is decided that we will be permitted to summit, which we then promptly do in about a 20-minute dash.

Meanwhile, Markus greedily eyes the elusive summit. [enlarge]
Shepherded onto the Summit
This is a view of the summit ridge from just below it. On the other side of the ridge is a very steep drop thousands of feet down. Mount Athabasca's summit is a narrow and long ridge. The guides carefully rope us onto the summit. [enlarge]
The summit!
Markus' victory pose. I had to ask the other summiters in our group to bend down, since we were all short-roped together. [enlarge]
View along summit crest
A picture from Markus, taken from the summit, looking west. [enlarge]
courtesy Markus
Mount Athabasca Summit
This is a people-less view of the very tip-top summit ridge. As you can see, there is not much room up here. [enlarge]
View from the top
A view down onto the Little-A glacier from the summit. If you look closely, you can see other students. [enlarge]
View from the top
One final shot from the top, and it is time to head down. All in all, a reasonably good course. Instruction was technically competant, but perhaps on the summit day not enough care was taken to checkpoint our progress against the goals set by the instructor. When all was said and done, we completed the climb in under 10 hours, which is very much faster than normal for 'newbies'. For the record. [enlarge]
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Athabasca Cimb - click map to view
Mt Athabasca - Ascent - Climb Data
Start Time: 4:31AM
End Time: 10:48AM
Duration: 6h16m
Distance: 5.22 km (3.24 mi)
Average Speed: 0.8 km/hr (0.5 mph)
Start Elevation: 6833ft (2083m) *
Max Elevation: 11452ft (3491m) *
Min Elevation: 6833ft (2083m) *
End Elevation: 11443ft (3488m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 4634ft (1412m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 81ft (25m) *
 
 
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Mt Athabasca - Descent - Climb Data
Start Time: 10:48AM
End Time: 1:45PM
Duration: 2h57m
Distance: 5.11 km (3.17 mi)
Average Speed: 1.7 km/hr (1.1 mph)
Start Elevation: 11443ft (3488m) *
Max Elevation: 11448ft (3489m) *
Min Elevation: 6786ft (2068m) *
End Elevation: 6791ft (2070m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 2ft (1m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 4623ft (1409m) *
 
 
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph

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