Trip Report – Mt Aberdeen, June 24 – 26th 2016

Trip Report – Mt Aberdeen, June 24 – 26th 2016
June 29, 2016 Tiffany Painton

ACC Group: Susan, Mika, Anne Drew, Elisabeth and Tiff

Honourable mention to: The other wonderful ACCers camping & climbing at Lake Louise this past weekend.

Written by – Tiff

Our adventure started June 24th as Susan, Anne Drew and I fled west escaping heavy rain in Calgary to meet Elisabeth and Mika at the Lake Louise campground. Despite the slightly more encouraging skies in our direction the weather forecast was not ideal and the climb would become excellent training for learning the importance of two very valuable mountaineering lessons; being open to try if conditions improve despite what may have been forecast (lesson A) and making conservative, responsible decisions in the mountains based on the information you have available at the time (lesson B).

Once everyone arrived at the Lake Louise campground we finalised plans to attempt Aberdeen the next morning and discussed a number of potential issues about the route including a serac fall off Aberdeen reported a few days prior. When our very own meteorologist Katherine Valentine texted Susan with, if I recall correctly, ‘Saturday but it’s difficult’, in response to the best day to climb I have to admit I was not filled with optimism about our chances of a summit! However, overtaken by enthusiasm and selective hearing we all liked the first part of that text and decided to head out early Saturday to at least complete the approach and check out Aberdeen. If the weather was not looking great for an ascent we would make the call once we arrived at the glacier and then decide if we would come back on Sunday.

We woke up at 1am Saturday morning and arrived at the Fairview trail head slightly after 2am to begin our hike up. The approach in was good and at first accompanied by your typical alpine start conversation such as women’s clothing, Mika joking about wearing women’s clothing and something else about women’s websites I did not quite catch.

After reaching the glacier around sunrise we were all pleasantly surprised by the weather so we decided it would be safe to go ahead with the funnest part of the day; the ice climb up the tongue of the glacier (refer to lesson A). Mika and Anne Drew swung leads ascending the tongue whilst Susan led Elisabeth and me up.

At about 10am our two teams met where we would begin our journey up to the Aberdeen/Haddo col. A group discussion followed about whether we should continue or turn around as we were concerned about a number of factors such as the condition of the snow after just crossing a suspect snow bridge, the long amount of time expected for us to get through crevasses, the seracs and up to the Aberdeen/Haddo col. We were also very concerned about our risk of being caught in an afternoon thunderstorm (clouds and the weather moving in was not looking good) and concluded that due to our projected arrival (2pm) at the Aberdeen summit, Haddo was not a realistic objective for the day if we opted to continue. We all agreed turning back in good time further up would be difficult so now would be the best time to turn around. After group discussion we accepted that the summit would be there for another day when conditions were better and decided to start our rappels back down the glacier (refer to lesson B).

We began our descent with no issues, arrived at the bottom of the tongue and opted for a more appealing route back through snow to regain the trail to Lake Louise. Once arriving at the parking lot we were all in need of food or sleep so us four ladies decided to grab some food in Lake Louise and Mika headed back to Calgary to get some rest.

Just when you think nothing can top the importance of mountaineering lesson A and B above, dinner at the hostel revealed the following:

1.     In terms of body proportion an average person is generally seven-and-a-half heads tall (educational moment delivered by Anne Drew). If you come across anyone that is nine or more heads tall then they are either really tall, really out of proportion or a combination of the two (???).

2.     French, German, UK, EU, US and Canadian politics are very complicated issues best solved by a pint of Honey Brown over dinner.

3.     After lengthy group deliberation the waiter with a nice accent who shall remain anonymous is from Quebec and neither Dutch, German, Austrian, Czech or Slovakian (Tiff’s poor guesses really proving the point that the UK is generally out of touch with the rest of Europe right now).

After our refueling, Anne Drew and Elisabeth headed back to Calgary whilst Susan and I decided to delay the onset of reality back in Calgary for one more day and camp for another night. Susan got word that an ACC Calgary group was camping nearby so we took what mental energy we had along with beer and cider to chat with the group. At around the twenty two hour point without sleep we decided to call it a night and go to bed.

June 26th – Bonus day – Lake Louise cragging

Katherine kindly invited us to tag along for some climbing at Louise Falls which we thought sounded like an excellent idea and would be an awesome way to end a fun weekend. The day very nearly ended early for one of us as I almost got locked in the public washroom but Susan was there to rescue me. I later returned this favour by confirming that her lifelong understanding of what constitutes sherbet and sorbet is indeed correct, relative to the UK and North American definitions. Relief… We avoided ending the weekend on a bad note.

In the end an excellent day on Aberdeen with great company was capped off with a relaxing day cragging with more great company. A big thanks goes to Susan for organising and to everyone who made this past weekend another great adventure in the mountains.

Happy climbing folks!

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Tiffany Painton

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