Des Poilus, Mont

elevation: 3,166 m. height gain: 1,660 m.
area: Wapta Icefield,BC map 82 N/10

Ref: Drew and Mark in the Canadian Rockies.

At the trailhead.
Alpine climb: RT 10.5 (including Yoho Peak); 3.0 up from bivy site. Mont Des Poilus is a stunning, tall mountain. It had been on our "to do" list for a long time but we had never committed mainly due to its remote location; also it is a serious ski trip for two people (Chic Scott Summits and Icefields). In August 2009, Andrew Nugara wrote a trip report of his amazing "tour de force"; ascending Des Poilus and returning the same day. Thanks to him, we had an appealing summer alternative. Our doggies were pre-booked at the Bed & Biscuit for this weekend and the weather was promising. Additionally, a group of climbers just made an ascent the week before and wrote a great trip report. Seeing the conditions and route was a bonus, thanks Vern.

Approach: After a half day of work for both Fab and I, we rushed our hounds to Aunty Lisa's, came home, threw our packs in the car, grabbed some Subway and drove to the trailhead. We left the car at 4 PM. We were prepared for a long hike in, we plodded along the lovely Twin Falls Trail and reached to top of the falls in 3 hours. A nice trail (cairn just ahead of the campground) leads to a tarn further up Waterfall Valley. After the tarn, the trail is less distinguishable and random hiking is used to reach the glacial lake. At the lake, we stayed high and traversed on top of the moraine, cairns indicate the way. Following that section, we dropped down to the glacier where we recognized the other party's bivy site. We arrived at 9 PM, with about an hour of daylight remaining to set up and eat.

It was a cool night, the stars were many and the half moon lit up the darkness; perfect conditions. We stepped on the glacier by 6 AM. Travelling was straightforward and we quickly reached the snow covered ascent slopes. As we continued up the lower mountain, tracks from previous groups became more obvious. Although the route and bergschrund were well covered with firm summer snow, we were slightly uneasy; numerous large crevasses exist along the way. In little time we gained the south ridge where we unroped. The final stretch of blocky terrain easily leads to the short summit ridge. We reached the top by 9 AM. I started taking a bunch of pictures while Fab named all the familiar mountains. Unfortunately, the nagging wind made us seek shelter between some big rocks, our stay was brief. Coming down, the snow had softened enough for plunge stepping. After a swift descent, we continued to the bare ice below and engaged in a casual plod across the glacier towards Yoho Peak.

laughing falls

Laughing Falls.

twin falls

Twin Falls through the trees.

top of twin falls

Top of Twin Falls.

another waterfall

Another beautiful waterfall.

objective in sight

Mont Des Poilus comes into view.

seed heads

Lovely seed heads of the Western Anemone.

at the tarn

At the tarn, the trail dissipates.

random hiking

Random hiking to the glacial lake.

traverse to the glacier

Staying high above the lake to reach the glacier.

glacial lake

The glacial lake, complete with icebergs.

ramp atop the moraine

A ramp at the top of the steep moraine.

nearing the glacier

Beyond the lake, we dip down to our bivy site at the glacier.

at our bivy site

9 PM, time to eat!

next morning

Nearing Mont Des Poilus early morning.

sun on des poilus

The sun is coming up as we reach the snow slopes.

yoho peak

Looking back towards Yoho Peak.

firm snow

Travelling is good on the firm snow.


The bergschrund is well covered.

looking down

Looking down from the top of the steep slope above the bergschrund.

almost at the ridge

This stretch leads to the south ridge.

last pitch

Last pitch of snow.

easy scrambling

Easy scramble to the top.

summit ridge

Fab on the short summit ridge.

disco jo

Sudden urge to get down!!!

northern view

The northern view from the summit.


Mount Balfour.


Mount Mummery in the Blaeberry.


Mount Laussedat to the west.

nicer cairn

We rebuilt the cairn before leaving the windy summit.

south ridge

Down the south ridge, The Presidents in the background.

over the edge

Over the edge!

roped up again

Roped up again.

visible track

The track is visible all the way to the ridge.


A big crevasse along the route.


Runnels on the pink glacier.

old moulin

An old moulin.


Very, very deep pothole.

route followed

The route we followed.

next destination

Our next destination, Yoho Peak.

Continue on to Yoho Peak
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