Andromeda, Mount

elevation: 3,450 m. height gain: 1,465 m.
area: Columbia Icefield,AB map 83 C/3
2011-Apr-24


Ref: Dave's Place
headwall


The headwall from the snowcoach terminus.
Ski mountaineering: RT 12.5; 9.0 up. With a good high-pressure ridge established, we chose to do a lengthy ski tour up the Columbia Icefield. Our objective, Mount Andromeda, boasts numerous technical alpine climbs. A straightforward, non-technical ascent is possible via the Columbia Icefield, the route is not without hazard though... After a previous attempt with the ACC two years ago, I knew I would be back sooner than later! Fab and I had been planning this trip for the last month. Along with some friends, we were waiting for stable weather; unfortunately, they could not make it when the opportunity came. On our own schedule, we left Golden at 2 AM. Arriving at the Columbia Icefield, we were surprised to see a gate barring the way to the climber's parking lot along the snowcoach road. Oh well... We parked near the gate and decided to walk up the road instead of the glacier. Still in darkness, the road was mindless. Daylight was upon us when we reached the snowcoach terminus. We roped up and proceeded towards the headwall. The route handrails the mountainside climber's right of the headwall. A section is littered with debris from seracs. The last pitch of the headwall is riddled with crevasses; we poled through two crevasses on the way up and avoided a couple of inconspicuous holes. From the top of the headwall, the expansive icefield is revealed, it is breathtaking. After a quick pause, we continued up and around a sub peak towards Andromeda's south-west ridge. At the saddle, we left our skis and unroped. There was no evidence of recent ascents up the ridge. The wind-pressed snow offered good travel. Some deeper sections were still manageable with little jarring from punching through. Soon the double summits came into view. Under blue sky, we walked the broad ridge to the false summit feeling excited. There it was, again, the corniced ridge to the true summit. We roped up. The ridge is straightforward, it is an enjoyable traverse. The top of this magnificent, tall mountain offers unlimited views; a sea of mountains all around. We were thrilled to be standing here and pleased with our effort. Despite the mild, sunny conditions, the brisk wind shortened our stay. From the summit ridge, the snowcoach buses are visible. The top section of some very exposed alpine climbs are also uncovered, unbelievable skill and head space required... We retraced our steps, relishing the moment and the stunning sights. From the saddle, we skied to the headwall in minutes and past the seracs in seconds! OK, maybe not that fast, but the descent is surprisingly quick. Instead of backtracking up the snowcoach road, we coasted down the glacier all the way back to the car. An amazing trip on all aspects, what a blessing!
mount andromeda

Mount Andromeda.

moon is visible

The moon is still visible.

going around andromeda

Going around to Andromeda's south side.

seracs overhead


Seracs threaten the route for a short distance.


athabasca glacier


Looking down the Athabasca Glacier, Nigel Peak in the background.


last pitch of the headwall


Last pitch of the headwall.


cresting the headwall


Lots of crevasses along the way.


looking back


Looking back again near the top of the headwall.


route to ascent ridge


A climbing traverse left of the sub peak leads to the ascent ridge.


looking back


A great view of the Athabasca Glacier from above.


serac breaking off


A serac breaking off interrupts our climb.


contouring the sub peak


Contouring the sub peak.


mount columbia


Mount Columbia in the distance.


south-west ridge


Andromeda's south-west ridge.


at the saddle


Leaving our skis at the saddle.


ascent ridge


Trail breaking up the ascent ridge.


columbia icefield


Mounts Columbia and Snowdome.


double summit ahead


Andromeda's double summit, the true summit is on the left.


mount castleguard


Mount Castleguard.


heading for the true summit


Coming down the south-west summit.


corniced ridge


The summit ridge is heavily corniced.


top of andromeda


The summit is a stone's throw away!


connecting ridge


The connecting ridge is straightforward.


south-east view


Towards the south-east, the Lyell Massif stands tall beyond Terrace Mountain.


at the top


Elated to be standing on the top.


south-western view


South-western view with Mount Bryce on the far left.


mount athabasca


Mount Athabasca to the east.


heading back


Heading back, gazing in disbelief at the North-West Shoulder Direct, an exposed way up...


the summit ridge


Along the summit ridge.


r


Our track, away from the cornices.


leaving the false summit


Quickly leaving the false summit.


down in a jiffy


Once on skis, we were back down in a jiffy.


magnificent andromeda


Mount Andromeda hosts several technical alpine climbs.
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