Gwendoline Mountain

elevation: 3,149 m. height gain: 1,260 m.
area: Catamount Glacier (Radium),BC map 82 K/10
2012-Apr-28


Catamount Glacier. Ref: Aaron Cameron and Matt Gunn's Hikes around Invermere & the Columbia River Valley.
Winter access: Park at the snowmobile trailhead on Horsethief-Forster Creek FSR at kilometer 20. A grooming fee of 10 dollars a sled is in effect. They stop grooming where the summer parking is, 348116, the last few kilometers are bumpy. Park the sleds at the bottom of the ascent to the moraines, 324118, about 24 kilometers in. From there, ascend towards the low point on the north facing slopes and proceed in the draw. At the toe of the glacier, 317110, head south passing by Olive Hut (perched high on some rocks) and Mount Harmon. Gwendoline Mountain is at the far end of the glacier. 
approach
20 kilometers of knee-jarring snowmobiling.
leaving the sled behind
Unlike many people, we leave our sleds behind; riding is prohibited on the glacier.
Ski mountaineering: RT 8.75; 5.25 up (from the sled). Whoot, whoot! We finally made it out on Catamount Glacier this season! We left Golden at 3 AM figuring it would take about three hours to reach the ascent to the moraine; it actually took us four hours. After we parked the sleds, we started to climb on firm snow. There's a lot of snowmobile traffic here; better signage would probably deter some people from going on the glacier... Travelling was quick through the moraine, the snow felt bomber. We got to the toe of the glacier quickly. Still in the shade, we roped up and proceeded on the glacier. A little higher up, the view towards Gwendoline unfolds. With exceptional sights and several climbing options, this area is a local jewel. Although the temperature was cool, the sun and absence of wind sure made it comfortable. We continued on the flat glacier almost effortlessly. As we neared the hut, we heard snowmobiles. After a couple of laps around, they climbed the hillside and dropped down on the North Star Glacier; it was quiet again. We ditched the rope and gear at some rocks just ahead of the ascent. Soon after gaining the ridge, we lost most visibility. A thin layer of stiff slab bonded poorly on the hard snow surface; as the slope steepened, keeping an edge became more difficult. We chose to leave the skis behind, bootpacking was much more efficient. The climb to the top is easy. With very little visibility, it felt strange peering over the North Star Glacier; it's quite the drop on the south side! We stayed at the top for an hour, waiting out breaks in the clouds. Calm wind and filtered sunrays made it pleasant. We could hear sledders below and see them occasionally. When clouds dissipated, I was ready to take a multitude of pictures. The weather improved as we returned. We enjoyed the steep run back to our gear despite the thin crust. I lost my baseball cap on the way down to the flat section and had to duck walk back to pick it up... Good times... We skated towards the moraine, stopping often to take pictures and check out the sledders. By now the snow was softer and delightful to ski. When we reached our sleds, we took another long break before all the shaking and rattling! fast travel
Travel is fast on the firm snow.
the moraine
The climb to the glacier follows the edge of the shade.
looking back
Looking back on the glacier.
our objective ahead
Gwendoline Mountain (left) and Black Fang at the far end of the glacier.
mount harmon
Mount Harmon to the left.
getting closer
Getting closer, the route follows the west ridge.
gaining the ridge
Gaining the ridge.
losing visibility
Visibility is greatly reduced as we climb higher.
bootpacking to the top
We leave our skis, it's easier to bootpack the crusty snow.
ascent ridge
Looking down the ascent ridge.
almost there
Almost there!
at the top
At the top, mind the cornice on the south-east side.
catamount and north star glaciers
Catamount Glacier (left) and North Star Glacier on the right.
very pleasant
Visibility comes and goes; there's no wind and we can feel the warmth of the filtered sunrays.
returning
After an hour, we start heading down.
nearing the skis
As we near our skis, the weather improves.
black fang
A close look at Black Fang.
getting ready
Getting ready to ski.
sweet run
This steep, north facing glaciated slope offers a fantastic run.
mounts nanette and harmon
Mount Nanette (far left), behind Mount Harmon.
olive hut
Olive Hut below the Scotch Peaks.
our run
It is possible to ascend another pitch on skis to extend the run.
lots of snowmobiles tracks
Lots of snowmobile tracks everywhere.
like velvet
The snow is much softer at the toe of the glacier.
to the moraine
Continuing to the moraine.
the moraine
Three sledders prepare to climb up to the glacier.
access
The low point leading to the moraine from our sleds.
better than walking
Better than walking!
riding dirt
Riding a bit of dirt lower down...
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