Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mt. Goodsir, Centre Peak - SW Face, 5.2, Alpine III

Mt. Goodsir, or “The Goodsirs”, is a beautiful trio of 11,000 foot+ summits in southern Yoho National Park.  This peak is prominent and recognizable from a far distance and these summits are shoulders above their neighbours with a striking profile.  This gorgeous peak has been on my wish list for decades, long before the current fad of bagging the Canadian Rockies 11,000’ers became a thing. When I was a rookie alpinist, Tim B. and I headed into climb the highest summit, the South Tower, back in August of 1994, but an unexpected dumped of snow sent us running.  I did a few exploratory ski trips in the Ice River in February 2009, but I didn’t have the opportunity to attempt this mountain until this August.

My old friend and hard core mountaineer Raff K. was also keen to attempt this peak, so we headed to the Ice River on August 21, hoping to reach the summit of both the North Tower and the Centre Peak of Mt. Goodsir.  The summer of 2017 has been exceptionally warm and dry, and we were hoping for ideal conditions.  Raff had attempted the South Tower of Mt. Goodsir back in July, using the recently promoted Moose Creek approach, but he felt the Ice River was a better approach for a few reasons.  I trust Raff’s opinion (he likely has over 1000 summits in the Rockies), so I was fine with this approach. 

The drive described in Corbett’s guide book is bag on, except the last 400 metres of skinny logging road which was blocked by fallen trees, so we parked in the large cut block as described.  After hiking the old logging roads, the trail drops to the Ice River and is well marked with rock lining the trail’s edge. Soon after dropping to river level, an old relic wooden Parks Canada sign posts shows the turn to the Ice River trail.  The section 1 km or so of the trail is in great shape to the signed park boundary.  About 2 km into the hike an avalanche slope from the winter has destroyed the trail, leaving an icy mess under the fallen trees, very, very slippery. Overall an easy hike to the old Upper Ice River warden cabins, just over 2 hours from the truck.
Turn to Ice River road.

Tree blocking last 400m of driveable road.

Sign near start of trail with turn to Ice River trail. 

Slick ice under trees on slope.

Old warden cabin, about 2 hours from the truck.

Consensus on the web seems to be head into the Ice River and stay in the river until at the avalanche slope before (south) of on the confluence of Zinc Creek; this avoids a horrible bushwack.  We did a bit of both, starting hiking up the Ice River, just upstream of the warden cabin, for about half the distance to this avalanche slope, the water was mostly knee deep, slow moving and quite refreshing on this hot day. The remaining distance was on dry marsh islands, just west of the main river channel.  This summer these were mostly dry, could be more mud in other summers. Near the avalanche slope below Zinc Creek, we headed up the open slope and found blue flagging about 200 metres up the slopes.  This flagging disappeared really quickly, and we bushwached moderate bush until we head to GR referenced by Corbett for the splitting of the trail near Zinc Creek.

Once across Zinc Creek you are home free and an easy plod up the creek heads to the open alpine meadows where you are free to choose any line you desire to bivy near the north or south tower approach.  We camped below a large buttress that splits the drainage below the North and Centre peaks. Fairly causal pace and we arrived at our bivy site just over 7 hours from the truck.  Overall not a bad approach, have done many worse ones.
Start of our morning, leaving bivy site, yellow tent is visible, sort of in the middle of the photo.
Zinc Mtn. lighting up nicely in the early morning light. 

Beautiful night and up about 5am, hoping to summit both North and Centre peaks. Plod up the scree slope below the North Tower, lower section all scree, and some travel on snow as we neared the bottom on the glacier.  Once on the bench below the toe of the small glacier, we could not spy an easy line to gain the bottom of the “V” ledge system.  In fact, the approach to the lower part of the face looked nasty, Raff suggested travelling up the glacier to North Tower/Centre Peak col to look for other lines.  Of course the travel up the glacier took longer than we thought, bigger glacier than we thought. From the col there was no easy line, Raff suggested, "heh the Centre Peak is right here, lets climb it and then climb the North Tower"; sure, why not. Then we did not like the look of the north ridge route, the standard route up looked wet, we decided to climb a new route up of the South West face. Sure why not.

Start of the big scree slog below the North Tower approach. 

Just below the glacier, view to the North Tower and the famous "V" ledges.The V is not as obvious without snow.
Approach to gain the start of the "V" had chossy steep terrain below, the line was not apparent, this was part of the reason we head up the glacier to scope other lines.

On our new variation on the SW Face of Centre Peak.  Raff is just visible in the bottom of the photo. Raff is seconding the fourth pitch on our new line. 

Same view to top of North Tower. 

After our 5 pitches of roped climbing, we reached easy terrain in a basin below the summit of Centre Peak.
From here is it moderate scrambling to the top. Our first view to South Tower.

OSWB and Raff on summit of Centre Peak, South Tower behind.

North Tower from summit.
Route shown on SW Face. Red line is 5 pitches of 5.2, green line was a scramble to the summit. Orange line is approximately the descent line, shows approximate location of the rappel station we found in place.

SW face of Centre Peak.

Actually Raff had spied a nice looking right trending ramp that headed towards the summit.  Turn out to be a nice line, mostly steep, difficult scrambling with steps to 5.2/5.3. We did pitch it all, in a total of five pitches, mostly with runout pitches, but solid piton belay stations.  We removed all pitons and left no trace on the route.  After the five pitches, we ended up in the steep basin below the summit and we scrambled to the summit of Centre Peak.  Because of pitching our new route, we were too late to attempt the North Tower summit, so we lingered and enjoyed the beautiful day on the summit of the Center Peak. 

We debated the descent; Raff was keen on downclimbing the route we took up, I knew it would be a very difficult downclimb, one that would, IMHO, required belays; which would take forever.  I suggested we descent the “standard” route, even though we didn’t ascend it.  Raff didn’t like that idea, but we decided to descend and make the call lower down. Turns out we easily found the regular route and did downclimb it; much easier downclimb then the way we ascended.  We found a rap station near the bottom of the descent and we used it to rap a short steep section.  Then down eastern edge of the glacier, back down the snow and scree to camp. Poor Raff did get hit by rock fall on the descent of the face which hit his ankle/heel area, causing pain and swelling which slowed his descent.

Back to camp, Raff soaked his foot in the cold creek, then off to bed. Returned to the truck the next with hot temperatures and beautiful views.  Great trip and great beta for the return trip.

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