Collie, Mount

elevation: 3,116 m. height gain: 1,075 m. (from the moraine)
area: Wapta Icefield,BC map 82 N/10
2010-Feb-23


Ref: Chic Scott's Summits and Icefields.
Via Ayesha Glacier. From the BC side (winter): follow the Blaeberry Road to the start of the Blaeberry FSR. Park 100 m. past the Blaeberry River Bridge at the recreation site, 019022. Follow the Blaeberry FSR to Ensign Creek FSR (Amiskwi), kilometer 35. Turn right across the bridge and follow up the switchbacks to the Collie Creek turn-off, 212248, turn left. The rest is not indicated on the topo map, the trail is seldom used. Inquire locally. The way is not obvious, this is only a quick rendition! Shortly after crossing Collie Creek, a sharp left leads up to a cut-block which needs to be climbed. A traverse in forested terrain follows. Soon thereafter, Ayesha Flats come into view and the moraine is up ahead. The moraine often appears wind blasted and denuded; the upper access is sheltered and hidden from view. The first pitch can be the crux; it is the longest with lots of rocks and variable snow conditions. The last section is short and steep; definitely advanced terrain for snowmobilers. Video of our access. From the top of the moraine, the transition on Ayesha Glacier is easy. Huge holes are present on the glacier. Remember, the Yoho National Park boundary is not far ahead.
collie creek
Crossing Collie Creek, you don't want to get stuck.
moraine ahead
The moraine is now in sight.
Ski mountaineering: RT: 5.0; 3.25 up (from camp). Finally, we close the book on Mount Collie. It started in 2004 when Fab and I contemplated doing Collie from the BC side. We planned a route and numerous recon trips, with dogs, followed. Eventually we had established a good snowmobile trail to the Ayesha Flats. I recall going up on Ayesha Glacier in 2005 and envisioned the day we would come again to ascend Collie. Well, we decided to commit to this trip in January this year. We dedicated a couple of weekends to breaking the trail past Collie Creek. After that, it was a waiting game for the best weather. We were hoping to take Fab's snowmobile up the glacier. The moraine offers challenging riding and as conditions change, there's never any guarantee of getting there. I decided to leave my sled behind and opted for my skis. Fab barely made it up the first pitch, thrown from one boulder to another and having to adjust "his line". I didn't think he would make it but he did. He waited for me to catch up, then he tackled the final section. The last climb was fairly easy so he returned to grab my pack. At the top of the moraine, the hardship of the day was behind us. Fab strapped my skis on his sled and we rode in tandem to the Park boundary. I was dropped off, along with my skis and waited for him to return with his own stuff. Wow, here we are, early in the afternoon at our camp location, not that tired! The wind was light but annoying. After the sunset, we retreated to our tent. The following morning the wind was even more frustrating. By 9 AM we were off to Collie. The sun felt great and we soon warmed up. We quickly reached the crevassed climb to Collie and joined an old up-track. We continued towards Collie's south-east bowl and there it was, the famous cornice. The climb to the summit ridge is nice. We traded skis for crampons and proceeded on the ridge. The final section of the ridge requires stepping onto the north slopes; it was slightly unnerving on the way back down! The summit view is impressive. We wish we could have stayed longer. After carefully retracing our steps down the exhilarating ridge, we prepared for "survival" skiing on variable wind affected snow. I almost bailed, going too fast with loose boots; I guess I overestimated my snowplow... Without having to put our skins back on, we followed our track back to the "boulder". While packing our gear, we watched two groups ascend Mount Gordon. The wind died down and we felt happy and content. Fab strapped some of my load on his sled and down the glacier we went. Very much to my surprise, I had an amazing ski down the moraine, the best of the whole trip by far! Now at my sled, the trip sadly feels like it's come to an end. Thanks to Lisa at the Bed and Biscuit for being on stand-by so many times! sledding up the moraine
Fab made it up the first and sketchiest part of the moraine.
on skis
I'm on skis, the wisest option for me.
two thirds up the moraine
I meet up with Fab for the last section of the moraine.
top of the moraine
I finish with no pack (a first) as Fab relays it to the top.
ayesha glacier
Ayesha Glacier.
up the glacier
Easy transition on the glacier, we rode in tandem on the snowmobile to our camp location.
we stop here
Fab pulled a carve at the Park's boundary and parked.
chillaxing
Enjoying the afternoon on the "boulder".
camp and collie behind
Our camp and Mount Collie in the background.
at the park boundary
In a probed perimeter, at the base of Mount Ayesha.
leaving camp
Leaving the camp the following morning.
sunrise
The sun is rising above Mount Gordon.
baker
Massive Mount Baker looks entirely different from here.
easy travel
Nearing the crevassed ascent.
climbing towards collie
We join an old up-track near the crevasses.
rounding the corner to collie bowl
Veering towards Mount Collie.
looking back
Looking back onto the Wapta and the classic approach.
collie bowl
Collie's south-east bowl was very wind affected.
looking back again
Mounts Gordon (left) and Balfour (right of center).
on the ridge
On the ridge, we leave our skis.
famous cornice
The famous cornice ahead, a group had recently climbed to the summit.
the easier section
I follow behind, quite thrilled.
view south
South-east view into Yoho National Park.
the summit rod
The top, complete with a rod. The view is, of course, impressive.
our camp below
From the top we can see our camp (circled).
heading back
Time to head back down.
better not slip
The north side of the summit ridge is exhilarating, even unnerving.
off the north side
A last look at the final ridge section.
double cornice
Cornices on both sides of the ridge.
an awesome trip
Looking back at our approach, already well below the top.
ayesha
Mount Ayesha and the "wind scoop".
ambassadors
The glacier's ambassadors wait for our departure.
back on my sled
The moraine offered the best skiing of the whole trip!
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