Mt Septimus via the X-Gully – trip report 17-20/05/13
We knew the forecast was iffy before leaving, with Friday and Saturday looking pretty rainy and then some promise of sun for Sunday and maybe Monday. Enough to get us packed and off on the Bedwell trail for 11 am Friday. We packed light, just a single 8mm rope, a pair of pitons, a mid-size cam, three stoppers, a snow picket, single mountaineering axe each and no crampons (would this gamble backfire??).
Friday went well, we hit snow by the four bridges and then made extra quick time into the sub-alpine aroudn Baby Bedwell. I post holed into a two foot deep pool near the top of the first stairs and it started to rain about the same time. Good times! After wringing out by socks and getting rain jackets on we pressed by Bedwell Lake and made the climb up the ridge to the Bedwell-Drinkwater col. The complete snow cover made travel pretty quick. We didn’t take snowshoes or skis and just booted along fine.
The fog and drizzle was pretty depressing as we reached the long bench that crosses from Little Jim Lake to Cream Lake and it was getting late. We headed up off the bench a ways and found a sheltered ledge between two copses and set up the tent. It was just about dark by the time we finished supper, a full day!
Saturday was as forecast pouring rain and zero visibility. We had heard the ACC-VI had a scheduled trip to Septimus so we kept an ear out for them to traipse by. Otherwise killed a tent day playing hangman and snoozing.
Sunday arrived as promised with a gorgeous clear, cold morning. We were up for 6 am and off within an hour. Pretty quickly we saw the ski and boot tracks from the ACC group and expected to find their camp at Cream Lake which we did. They were already high up in the X gully by then beating in a perfect boot track for us!!
Up the Northwest glacier we went and in to the X Gully. So far so good without crampons. The snow was a bit harder than I had anticipated but the crust broke fine and the ACC tracks made a world of difference – seemed a fair trade – our tracks all but to Cream Lake and theirs to the summit. Good exchange.
At the top of the X Gully the view across the North Glacier was amazing! Surprisingly open terrain but with big mountain feel with the Rosseau spires and Misthorns. We traversed the glacier on very soft snow. I was a bit concerned about what the snow stability might be like on the upper spire but despite the slush surface there wasn’t any movement.
Pressing on we reached the wind-lip where the North Glacier drops off and the route steepens on to Septimus’ summit. There’s an exposed traverse to get started and then four rope lengths of 55˚ snow. Here and there we could feel the rock through the snow, striking it with our axe spikes. The belays were adequate but let’s be honest if the snow moved they would have been useless. Still there was no real sign of instability other than the wet surface snow.
As we neared the top we heard the 5 ACC climbers descending and waited for them to pass before continuing. Nice to chat a bit and share some gardening tips while in the alpine!
At last we pulled on to the summit about 2:30 pm and settled down for some views and lunch. It was a very snowy Strathcona from there.
The descent went smoothly, you know how it goes, you don’t want to do it but it has to be done. I belayed Renée down each pitch and then downclimbed. It all went smoothly and before we knew it we were making the long easy glissade down to Cream Lake.
Next day we hoofed back out. A chance to chat agin with our fellow summiteers and see a few day tripper (from Bedwell Lake) stomp by on their snowshoes. A quick run down to the car and it just started raining as we pulled out of the parking lot – PErfect!!!!