Team Endurance had reunited for an epic adventure scrambling in the Canadian Rockies. Unfortunately, the Italian contingent had a problem with arthritic knees. Convinced that even with our ailments we were still epic, we headed to Mount Temple – popular with every man and his dog – for the ultimate Canadian scramble. Though perhaps it was too early in the day/too late in the year as we had the mountain practically to ourselves. Reaching Sentinel Pass was easy enough, and the scenery was ethereal in the early morning light.
There was snow and ice after the first ridge or was that the second. The iced-up snow-chute was the only real rubbish moment. I’d read crazy stories about boulders and rocks being knocked down the mountain from the hordes above, but there was nobody above us on the way up (though dozens of tourists taking photos around Sentinel Pass when we descended). On our descent we passed only one group of 6 ascending.
Was it enjoyable? Meh, maybe I was having a bad day, it was OK I guess. It was a long, old slog – what I would have given for a pole or two. A hiking pole that is, not an Eastern European man. On our descent we took the 4th route down through the rock band – harder but preferable to climbing down the icy snow-chute we’d come up a few hours before. From Moraine Lake parking to the summit and back took 11 hours. Blisters: 1. Rum drunk: 3 sips.
Oh Look! It’s A 450Ilb Daddy Grizzly
Aching from Temple we decided Mount Fairview would be our next summit. A pleasant hike up to Saddleback Pass and then onward to Mount Fairview. Beautiful sunshine and Larch trees in their yellow splendour were a treat for the eyes. Easy hike up and down. The only problem was on the way down; we turned a corner on the trail and 20m in front of us was a 450Ilb daddy grizzly bear, snuffling berries. He looked up as we all sort of walked into the back of each other dominoe- style and well, bear face just continued eating the berries.
We retreated (apparently I had smoke coming off my heels), back up the trail for 100m, talking to each other to let the bear hear our voices and alert him to our presence. Then we waited to see which direction he’d go. After a few minutes, old daddy bear reappeared back on our heels. Ugh, man, we retreated back up another 300m. By this time we’d spotted another group of 3 on the trail. I was so happy to see them! One was a Canadian guide – a man who’d had seen many a bear . He whistled at the bear and had us all put our arms up the air as we walked back down the trail. We waited as the bear spotted us and then ever so gently made his way through a clearing off the trail allowing us all to continue on our way down. Bear features then rejoined the trail further up. Just hope the lovely Babs from Winnipeg who we’d left at the summit didn’t become bear supper.
Emerald Basin And The Plain Of Six Glaciers
The following days were taken up with kayaking; we hiked the 10km Emerald Basin; and the Plain Of Six Glaciers which was relatively clear and made for a good view of the Deathtrap (and Abbot’s Pass hut– hurray). The relentless wind,rain and sleet all gave it a bit of a British feel. But instead of stopping for some ale on the way back, we dropped into the 6 plains teahouse for the world’s biggest (and most needed) piece of chocolate cake. Freshly fortified, we continued onwards and upwards to Big Beehive, before descending via Lake Agnes back to the carpark at Lake Louise.Having pretty much exhausted the Emerald and Lake Louise hiking options, it was time to make our way to Yoho National Park and Lake O’Hara for an alpine adventure.
Onwards to Abbot Pass Hut
Abbot Pass lies between Mount Lefroy and Mount Victoria, in the divide between the valleys of Lake O’Hara and Lake Louise. Onwards we went up, through snow and glorious sunshine. We encountered a woman who told us she was’t sure if we’d make it all the way up due to the snowfall, worst pep talk ever! With nobody in front of us the slog up was hard. My wonderful husband kicked every step of the way into the snow. Brutal. Without him doing that there is no way Cat or I would have been able top get up there.
One small avalanche and 6 hours later we were shovelling snow to melt for tea at Abbot’s Hut. Bad news is the helicopter hadn’t made it up there to stock up the wood supplies. It was a one long only fire and a very cold night. I nibbled at my trail mix as I couldn’t face eating, which was stupid. But that’s altitude I guess. Then I couldn’t sleep properly because I felt really cold because I hadn’t eaten properly. Man. I just wanted to get back down.
I woke up at about 3 am to go to the loo. Putting on my boots and jacket, I could hear the wind howling outside. It was a slightly surreal experience and one you certainly need to be wide awake for! The best toilet view in the world though. At first light we made our way back down from the pass. Happily and hungry. Thank god for Laggans Bakery, I think I ate my body weight in donuts.