Elliot Peak

elevation: 2,873 m. height gain: 1,540 m.
area: David Thompson Highway,AB map 83 C/1
2012-May-27


Ref: Drew and Mark in the Canadian Rockies.

In the springtime, with proper conditions, it is possible to ascend a straightforward snow slope and traverse to an upper bowl that leads to the top. The route bypasses the ramp (scramble route) climber's left.
trailhead
At the trailhead for Pinto Lake.
Scramble: RT 11.5; 6.0 up. I remember googling Elliot Peak right after our trip up Mount Ernest Ross last year. I was delighted to find out a scramble route exists on the north side. We planned to try an ascent this spring; as we researched it, we came across a week-old trip report on Gravsports. After reading Tyler's report, we decided (with enthusiasm) to try it next. Fab and I love springtime snow ascents; this alternate route was very appealing! We were embracing the thought of a lighter pack but still, we brought snowshoes, crampons and the usual avalanche gear, just in case. When we left the trailhead, around 7:30 AM, the sky was clear and the air crisp. We had no trouble recognizing the second drainage. We climbed the embankment, climber's right, and followed a faint trail. Shortly thereafter, deadfall obstructs the path and random bushwhacking ensues. We navigated through the fallen trees, with the creek remaining within earshot. As we gained height, the convoluted mess diminished. Then we noticed a sliver of snow though the trees, we veered towards the drainage. It was filled with old avalanche debris; this snow highway would grant quick easy access to treeline! At its terminus, we had to traverse over to the main draw, leaving the consolidated snow behind. To our surprise, except for the odd posthole, we stayed atop the firm snowpack without snowshoes. We reached the draw and soon stood in the North Basin. Feeling slightly hard-pressed to take advantage of the firm snow, we continued to the base of the ascent slope. After donning crampons and taking our axe out, we started to climb. The great snow conditions and weather made the ascent very pleasant. Following a short traverse to the upper bowl (this section requires care), we resumed the long steady plod to the summit ridge. From the ridge, we stood minutes away from the top. The view towards Abraham Lake was reduced because of the cornice but the other quadrants revealed endless chains of mountains; I felt elated. We lounged by the summit cairn for an hour, aware of deteriorating snow conditions... Hence, we started heading down before too late. Descending was fast like lightning! We glissaded from top to bottom, what a thrill, I loved it!!! We stopped by a grassy tree isle and took a fine, boots-off break. Upon returning, we expected the snowpack to be much softer. Fab decided to traverse higher on the (now shaded) mountainside of Sentinel to avoid the flatter treed terrain. This was a good beeline to the access gully and plodding on the avalanche debris eliminated postholing. Then we hit the snow highway and the rest was uneventful, yet I felt quite satisfied as I walked back to the car. All and all, another fantastic day out in the mountains with Fab! second drainage
The "ghetto bridge" at the second drainage indicates the start of the ascent. We bushwhacked up on the embankment, climber's right of the creek.
avalanche debris
Still well below treeline, the drainage is filled with old avalanche debris.
pleasant jaunt
A pleasant continuous jaunt to treeline.
avalanche path ends
The path ends againts Sentinel Mountain's north-east flank.
over to the main draw
We traverse over to the main draw, climber's left.
firm snowpack
The snow is firm and snowshoes are not required.
north basin
In the North Basin, right on, right on!
crampons out!
Just about to don crampons and get the axe out.
good climbing conditions
Great conditions for this moderately steep snow slope.
start of traverse
A short traverse leads to the upper bowl.
looking down
Looking down, notice the ramp (scramble route) to the left.
traversing
This section requires caution.
tricky steps
A couple of steps on rock and ice.
upper bowl
The long upper bowl almost reaches the summit.
summit ridge
Finally on the summit ridge, looking south-west.
last bit
Last short bit to the top.
fab arrives
Fab arrives at the top, the background is stunning.
abraham lake
Allstones Peak (left) and Abraham Mountain (left center).
ernest ross
The twin peaks of Mount Ernest Ross.
lounging at the top
Fab is lounging on the summit cairn.
sweet glissade
The upper bowl offers a sweet uninterrupted glissade.
traverse
The short traverse.
more glissading
More glissading, whoot, whoot!
down already
Down in a jiffy!
time for another break
A grassy spot ahead is ideal for a "boots-off" break.
minimal postholing
The snow has softened a lot; luckily, we managed minimal postholing.
access drainage just ahead
The access drainage is just beyond the trees ahead.
smooth sailing
Smooth sailing with Coral Ridge in front of us!
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