Chephren, Mount

elevation: 3,307 m. height gain: 1,630 m.
area: Icefields Parkway,AB map 82 N/15

Ref: Sean Dougherty's Selected Alpine Climbs and Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies.
at the start

The start of the hike in to Chephren Lake.
Alpine climb: RT 9.0; 5.5 up (from bivy). WOW! WOW! WOW! The weather forecast wasn't looking great 40% POP on Friday and 60% risk of thundershowers in the afternoon for Saturday. This organized trip with the Alpine Club had been planned for a while so we were quite keen to give it a try and hoped for the best. We met the trip leader, Brian Merry, in Lake Louise: nobody else signed up. We caravanned to Waterfowl Lakes campground. Right after leaving the car, we had to take shelter from driving rain at the trailhead sign; we remained optimistic, it will pass. Indeed it did clear up and allowed us good travelling around the back of the lake. We set-up camp near the first creek crossing, then the rain came. Under a tarp, we made good of the situation. The rain dissipated as the evening progressed and by night, it was clear. We headed out before 7 AM, up the moraine towards the alpine route: the south facing snow slope to the west ridge. The ascent was enjoyable and very exciting with good snow conditions and great leadership skills from Brian. This is the most challenging snow climb Fab and I have done. When we reached the col, nice weather was holding up but darker clouds were forming; we didn't linger. The plod to the summit was straightforward and firm along the ridge. It was amazing to glance at the true summit, overhanging, with clouds forming on the sheer side. Our stay at the top was brief: 15 minutes, we had to get down the mountain before the oncoming thundershowers. Brian led us down the scrambling route. With some coaxing and care, I made it through the difficult sections to the rappel station. We rappelled down on our rope (there's an old rope there) and resumed our descent towards the remaining snow along the grassy slopes. It was very exhilarating; I can't imagine trying to find my way up through there. The snow offered a quick glissade down to the grasses where we started to get pummeled with hail. The clouds behind Howse were quite impressive. By the time we hit the snow below (close to the moraine), lightning was occurring. The weather let up back at the bivy, great timing for us to take a well-deserved break and pick up the rest of our gear. Starting up again along the lake, through the boulders, we were not spared after all. It started raining so hard that we had to hunker down under the tarp. Sitting awkwardly on the wet boulders we hoped it would ease. It didn't. After about 30 minutes, we decided to up and go. It did eventually ease up, but wet shrubs and a soggy trail insured saturation point was retained! The thought of getting rid of our wet clothes propelled us at a steady pace. We reached our vehicles just before 8 PM. Awesome trip; very fortunate to have been able to squeeze it in. Thanks a lot Brian; we couldn't have done it without you!
around the lake

Going around the lake.

our camp

Our 5 star bivy site.

the moraine

The moraine.

at the start

The start of the south snow slope.

looking down

Looking back down the lower slope and some open slots.

going up

The lower slope steepens.

heading towards the upper slope

Before the traverse to the upper snow slope.

the ascent slope

Looking down again.

the upper slopes

The traverse around to the upper slope.

steep slope

The upper slope is steep.

top of snow slope

Angling towards the ridge at the top of the snow slope.

summit plod

The summit ridge.

true summit

True summit.

white pyramid

White Pyramid.

at the top

At the top, yahoooooo! First in the register this season.

traverse on the way down

Traverse towards the noticeable trail in the black scree.

coming down

Heading towards the gully.

rock steps

Making our way down a gully.

snow traverse

Traversing towards the lower gully.

rappelling down

The rappel station.

grassy slopes

The grassy slopes are a welcome sight.

howse and dark sky

Dark clouds behind Howse Peak.

saturation point

Saturation point reached well before the parking lot.
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