above: the front face of Charles Stewart. My route was straight up the gully in the middle of the photo.
I made a lengthy expedition to Mt Charles Stewart today. It was the first nice day in a while even if the morning was a brisk -4 C! My route started at the Trans Canada and after negotiating several barbed wire fences, I bashed around till I found “Johnny’s Trail” which I think is an old mine trail. This led to Stoneworks Canyon.
Here’s a quick look at the impressive environs of Stoneworks
With all the snow that has fallen lately, I was more than a little concerned about the return trip through the canyon at the end of the day with what would surely be a big melt and runoff. This thought bothered me all day!
Very slow progress for several hours as I picked my way through several kms of snow covered boulders littering the creek. As slow as the snow made the creek, it was ideal for the initial scree ascent. When scree is frozen, it stays firm eliminating the some of the “treadmill effect.”
Above: the last flatish place for a photo-op. Clear, dry skies!
At 2700M (1400M gain for the day) I started to get concerned about the slope I was on. It was extremely steep with a windcrusted snowpack around 25cm deep. As it heated up, I started to have worries about its stability. I started to have visions of it melting from the bottom up and forming a slush that would send me sliding down the massive face. If that happened I would need to self-arrest with my ice axe, a skill I would be uneasy to rely on to such a degree. In retrospect I’m sure the slope was safe but as my confidence eroded I found it increasingly difficult to maintain concentration. With only a few dozen meters to the top it seemed a shame to turn around but I couldn’t shake the sense of dread.
It’s a tough feeling to work so hard all day only to just miss the objective but I was consoled by warm sunshine and breathtaking views. Oh yeah, and my feet only got a little wet on the return trip as the creek in Stoneworks Canyon only increased half a foot from the melt.