Friday, August 9, 2013

Climbing Mt. Assiniboine with my Dad

My Dad leaned on his trekking pole and sighed deeply, and I wondered if he might crumble like some of the chossy rock we'd come through on the most recent phase of our seemingly endless approach to mt Assiniboine. We had just completed the infamous Gmoser Highway and were finally within a few hundreds meters of the Hind Hut, but the 30km, 13 hr approach was taking its toll on my Dad. We do a trip together every few summers to celebrate his birthday - he just turned 62 and is super fit, but this kind of effort would tire anyone out.
Enjoying the views on the mostly flat approach
This juvenile ptarmigan posed for us while we rested

Hazard of the hike in
So close yet so far, the view to Mt. Assiniboine from Lake Magog

Cool yellow paintbrushes near Lake Magog
I wondered if the refreshing cans of Kokanee he had treated us to when we made our way past Assiniboine Lodge were actually a bad idea. They certainly tasted good and took the edge off the prospect of continuing up to the hut from Lake Magog, but as the final phase of the day proved to be a bit longer and trickier than we had imagined, perhaps some serious super elite-athlete engineered endurance food and electrolyte beverages might have better prepared us.

We stumbled into the hut and I got to work melting water and getting our dinner going while Dad chilled out. He only balked slightly at my announcement we were going to wake at 5AM for our summit bid on the North Ridge of Assiniboine the next morning.

The Hind Hut
We awoke to a perfect day and beautiful red light on the peaks as we left the hut. Temps were cool in the morning and we slowly but surely made our way up the 1000m ridge. Mostly mellow scrambling with the occasional fifth class pitch through steeper strata brought us to the final ridge and a broad summit where we enjoyed our lunch and relaxed in the sun. The views were incredible - the cold storm a few days prior that had left snow dusting the route had also cleared the air, providing us with unbelievable 365 degree vistas of mountains upon mountains upon mountains. A Peregrine falcon buzzed by and seracs rumbled on the glacier below, reminding us of what a wild place we were enjoying in pure windless comfort and solitude. The trip down was slow but relatively uneventful, with well equipped rappel stations and some loose but manageable scree and down scrambling.
Perfect morning light on the mountain before our climb
Starting out with beautiful light
On the way up!
Getting higher!
Chillin on top
Summit selfie
The next morning the weather was definitely deteriorating, so we convinced ourselves to reverse the long journey to the trailhead in one day, stopping at the lodge to visit some friends who work there after completing the Gmoser highway again - equally as spicy on the way down as it had been on the way up.
We climbed this thing!
The 30km slog out was definitely a grind, and my pack left painful, swollen bruises on my hips. Luckily for me my Dad is one of my favorite people to chat with, so the walk sailed by with us sharing stories about our travels and dreams for the future.
Beautiful columbines 
This Hoary Marmot stopped to say hi when my Dad whistled at him

When my Dad's VW van finally came into view in the parking lot, he opened the door and pulled an ice cold 6 pack from fridge and cracked one for each of us. We clinked cans and took long swigs and congratulated each other on a great adventure. I have been so lucky to travel all over the world to climb and go on exotic adventures from Italy to Greenland. I've ridden in helicopters to get to remote regions that cost many thousands of dollars and weeks of preparation to visit. But this trip with my Dad required only one day of perfect weather, two pairs of legs that were willing to go the distance, and a Westfalia fridge full of cold ones to celebrate a successful mission. And it was the best climb of my summer so far.
NOTHING tastes better than this

5 comments:

Trevor said...

congrats to both of you!

Anonymous said...

Jasmin- That was a great story. Good going on doing that climb. Reminds me of climbing with my daughter Caitlin, 23. Similar "summit selfie" photos and post-climb beers from the cooler. Wonderful memories. Does not get any better. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nice story. It's one of my favorite memories as well. But what I most remember is 4th classing up on verglass and the continuous rain of rockfall coming down the adjacent face. Some big 'ns, too. And the long hike out; that was certainly memorable, made the more so by high claw marks on trees along the way and the occasional strip of marmot peel in the trail.

Rob Webel said...

Nice job to you and your Dad! You are a very good writer as well!

Chauncey said...

This is cool!