Mount Hector has been languishing on my To Do list for ages but it's another one of those peaks I never seemed to get around to. Well, I finally fixed that.
Last week I realized I had an unbooked weekend coming up so I asked Skyler if he was interested in a weekend of peak bagging and couloir skiing. The idea was to bag a bigger peak on Saturday, stay at Mosquito Creek that night and then do a quick couloir mission before heading back to Calgary at a reasonable time.
At 3394m, Mount Hector definitely meets the requirements for 'bigger' peak. This was great because I like climbing tall, pointy mountains, but sucks because we were coming from Calgary Saturday morning and neither Skyler nor I really felt like the misery of an alpine start. In the end, we decided to risk a later start hoping that the weather would stay cool enough to keep the snow from warming up too much.
We left the parking lot at about 9:15am and quickly cruised up the drainage between Andromanche and Mount Hector. If you've ever climbed Achilles Spire - it's the same approach. Eventually, things open up a bit and where you'd peel off left to go over to Achilles Spire, instead we headed right and cruised up the broad slopes that lead to the glacier.
When we reached the glacier we paused for some calories and put on our harnesses (trying to put on a harness in the bottom of a hole doesn't sound like fun) in case one of us managed to walk into a crevasse.
A party ahead of us had laid in an absolutely fantastic skin track so we didn't have to worry at all about the clouds periodically presenting us with limited visibility.
We reached the the highest we were going to be going on skins just as the party ahead of us finished their downclimb back to where they'd dumped their skis and after shooting the shit and sharing some 'small world' stories, Skyler and I continued up while they ripped skins and skied down.
The scramble to the summit is a pretty straightforward one. It would have been more straightforward if I hadn't convinced Skyler that we didn't need crampons. We got up an down safely, but crampons would have just made one or two steps a little more comfortable.
Once on top though, holy shit. The clouds that had obscured things most of the morning melted away and we could see all the way to the horizon in all directions. Mount Hector must have one of the most incredible views I've ever seen. You feel like you are absolutely towering over everything around you. It's probably because you are - the summit of Mount Hector is about 400m higher than anything else in the neighbourhood.
After soaking in the views, snapping a summit selfie and reversing the scramble back to our skis, we too ripped skins and took off down the glacier. We skied the headwall one at a time, but once on the lower angle glacier, we gang skied down at full speed. It was great snow on cruisey terrain and by sticking close to our skin track, we kept our concern about crevasses pretty low.
Car to car the day ended up being just a bit over six hours so despite our leisurely start, we were basking in the sun and having a victory beer on the side of the road by 3:30pm.
Mount Hector has to be the epitome of 'All Killer, No Filler'. You skin through the trees, moraines, crevassed glacier, steep headwall, scramble up rock and then ski back down fun stuff. No part of it feels like an unending slog because the scenery is amazing, the terrain has tons of variety and nothings sucks. Mount Hector is absolutely the kind of peak I could see doing over, and over again.
Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.