with Peter Austen
Mountaineering Course - 2 Days
Glaciers and Summits
Contact us at (604) 898 9775 and we'll call you right
back or email us for dates
Cost: $699 CAN for two days
in British Columbia, Canada.
Dates: July -Sept
Weather dependent. Peaks in the Coast, Joffre,
Garibaldi Park, and Tantalus ranges. Mt. Garibaldi April/May.
$1795 CAN single
( 6 days)
Heli-mountaineering in the Wilderness of the Coast Range of British
Dates: August - Sept
(6 days) Contact us to customize dates.
$2175 CAN single
$3825 CAN double
Custom Guided Mountaineering Adventures
We provide custom guided mountaineering and rock climbing
adventures throughout the climbing world, year round. Let us help you
achieve your mountaineering and climbing goals. Peter Austen has guided
and explored in 80 countries and on mountains around the world for 40
years and was leader of Everest Canada - The Climb for Hope. He is an
individual member of the AMGA (Association of Mountain Guides of America)
which is affiliated with the UIAGM (International Federation).
Climbing Mount Robson
British Columbia's Greatest Challenge
By Peter Austen
To climb Mount Robson, by any route, is the
dream of many North American climbers and also of climbers throughout
the world. Mount Robson is a peak of world class reputation and mountaineering
difficulty. The peak of almost thirteen thousand feet is the highest
in the Canadian Rockies and offers difficult and objectively dangerous
routes on all sides. There is a constant threat from avalanches, icefall,
and stonefall. The weather can also change in a very short time from
blues skies and sun to raging blizzards and it plays a major part in
any successful attempt. The first ascent was led, in 1913, by Konrad
Kain, an immigrant Austrian guide, and was a very bold feat for the
period. Mountaineers then had what would now be called primitive equipment
ø nailed boots, a few sweaters and ice axes that were far too long for
their purpose. However, climbers of that period made up for deficiencies
in equipment by endurance, determination, skill and sometimes very fast
My first attempt on Robson ended when I looked out
of the tiny mountain hut perched on a ledge at eight thousand feet and
saw six inches of new snow at 6:00 a.m.
I had come on this second occasion in late August,
the best time for climbing Robson, with two Americans, Chris and Brock.
They were both veterans of many mountains but had not yet summitted
on Robson after many attempts. For some weird reason, American climbers
pronounce Robson "Robeson." Perhaps this is because of Paul Robeson,
the great American Negro bass voiced singer.
met at Kinney Lake that lies at the foot of the gigantic, almost Himalayan
ten thousand foot south face of Robson. Reverend Kinney was Robson's
first protagonist and got to within a few hundred feet of the summit
after a month long march from Edmonton. We toiled up the lower slopes
of dense bush, steep talus and rocky slabs for six hours. The sun was
merciless and we needed frequent rests. Reaching the hut at 2:00 p.m.
gave us the remainder of the afternoon to watch the show that Robson
puts on for interested spectators. Near the hut is a latrine from which
you watch with bated breath as the icefall spews out huge chunks of
ice that break off and plummet into the depths. The constant spectacle
and roar of blocks means constipation is never an issue. We sunbathed
and watched the sunset on the myriad of jagged peaks to the south. In
the evening I calculated from the hut record that only about thirty
percent of the many attempts on Robon's summit had been successful.
In fact, during one ten year period, the weather was so bad that no
one climbed it all. Over the last five years only thirty people have
made the top compared to over 100 on Everest. At 12:00 p.m. we heard
a noise outside and discovered a party of Chinese mountaineers who,
in true courteous Chinese tradition, had decided to sleep outside rather
than wake us up. They had just returned from the summit after a very
long day and were glad to come inside for a brew of tea.
We set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. and set off in the
frosty air, the snow cracking under our boots and a weak glow from our
headlamps revealed dragon-like shapes riding in fairyland castles. The
rock was loose and icy and led to the summit of Little Robson, a subsidiary
peak, which we reached at around 5:00 a.m. From here snow slopes and
small ridges led to the "Schwarz" or black ledges. Here the fun starts.
reach the first ledges, one has to pass under the "shooting gallery,"
a vertical corner of rock over which an icefield looms. Every few minutes
or even seconds in some cases, ice will break off, drop on the ledges,
and pulverize anyone who is unlucky enough to stand there. Then it cascades
five thousand feet down to the lower slopes of Mount Robson. We waited
until the "shooting" stopped and scooted across one by one at top speed
like frightened rabbits.
Above the Schwarz ledges is a snow ridge which seems
to hang suspended over the enormous drop below. Ravens show off constantly
and drop like stones a short distance away, leveling out thousands of
feet lower. This always gives me a sickening feeling in the stomach
and I rammed my iceaxes in even deeper. Many people say they can not
stand height, but the thrill comes from deliberately looking down and
overcoming their fear.
A thousand feet below the summit there is a long crossing
under a giant icefall and we blasted across this to reach the final
sixty degree steep ice ridge leading to the summit. This ridge can be
any consistency from soft snow to hard ice and in fact it was ø solid
ice. We had to place ice screws every twenty-five feet for protection.
After two hours of this we emerged on to the summit ridge, feeling the
effects of reduced oxygen and a too fast ascent. The last hundred feet
led to the summit and we sat there, one at a time as the summit only
has room for one person. "Good grief, said Chris, what an amazing place."
No one else said much on the top. It was so overwhelming. Kinney Lake
glinted like a lost diamond, ten thousand feet directly below. It felt
like hanging on a plane's wing. Clouds drifted in and caused a bizarre
feeling of unreality.
The descent was tricky as it was late afternoon, and
everything was melting. We dreaded the ever present threat of avalanche
and icefall. Stones were falling at intervals and fatigue was taking
its toll. We had to be especially careful anchoring each other down
the ice and snow ridges. Climbing down is very different from climbing
up and we spent hours finding the way down in the mist. The hut was
reached six hours after leaving the summit and we fell asleep after
numerous drinks of tea and soup. Lunch time next day saw us swimming
in icy cold Kinney Lake, looking back up at the gargoyles sculptured
by the eroding wind on the top and revelling in the accomplishment of
the challenge. My dream of climbing the highest and most challenging
peak in British Columbia had been realized.
Now we offer the ascent of this famous peak. Call
for details today.