Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yamnuska -- March 15, 2008

After Sunday's gorgeous hike up Yamnuska, D and I thought we'd give it a try on Saturday. After all, a week of gorgeous weather could only mean the trails would be in ever *better* shape, right?

Not so much. Temperatures dropped below zero the night before (we even had snow in the city), and all the lovely melting snow solidified into the dreaded ice. Not to mention the weather that Saturday was bizarre.

The hike started out well enough -- it was early afternoon, and it had warmed up enough that all the mud at the lower part of the hike was positively mushy. It wasn't long before our Yak-Traks were caked in mud and sliding all over our shoes. Off they came.

Naturally, as trail got steeper, the snow became more and more prevalent, as did the ice. There was a stretch about 1/3 of the way up where I don't think we let go of the trees once, for fear of sliding back downhill. But once through there, we hit a bare (and dry) section that lasted the majority of the hike.

But the skies remained grey and overcast:

On Sunday, once N and I hit the treeline, or troubles appeared to be over -- the snow at the top was deep and crispy, typical March snow without any worry of ice. What a difference six days makes! D and I encountered even more ice as we approached the summit, and once again resorted to clinging to trees to navigate the icy patches.

This was a relatively bare patch near the treeline, can you spot the ice:

We're not ones to back down from a challenge, but about 10-15 minutes from the summit we decided to turn around for safety reasons. The approach to the rockface might be the steepest part of the climb. It wasn't as icy as some stretches down below, but thanks to the steeper incline, any footholds were much less secure and the white ice underneath the snow was treacherous.

It had already taken 2.5 hours to make it to this point... usually we're at the rockface in under 2 hours.

At the top, the sun was beating down on us, and it felt like it could be 7-8 C easily. Much different from the grey skies we saw on the way up the mountain. However, when the weather turned, it turned quickly. First the temperature of the wind seemed to drop by 10 degrees in minutes, and became very reminiscent of certain gusts down Portage Ave in Winnipeg. Strangely enough, the hike down seemed less icy (the ice had melted a little perhaps), and we made it through the extremely icy parts quickly. Just in time too... just after we made it past the last of the really bad ice, a snow storm came out of nowhere.


We didn't make it to the rockface, but it's certainly a hike we won't be forgetting for a long time!


Marvin said...

Viewing your photos of the Rockies makes me feel silly when I claim to live in the Ozark Mountains.

Enjoying your posts.

Michelle said...

Hahahaha, thanks. But I have to say, your mountains have me equally enthralled.

Benjamin Burner said...

You do live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I've wanted to visit glacier NP for some time. Do you live near there? Maybe I'll just keep heading north when I visit glacier.

It sounds like you had some adventure! It seems like you'd have no problem with seeing lava--really, my post was meant to encourage people to go see lava. It's amazing and probably fairly safe provided you have more sense than I do (and it sounds like you do).

Michelle said...

Glacier NP is about 3-4 hours south of here. It connects up to a small Canadian NP called Waterton. Both Glacier and Waterton form an International Peace Park. There are areas where you can rent a canoe or take a boat ride and cross the US/Canada border in the middle of the lake!

It's beautiful around there. Stunning. Glacier NP won't disappoint, though it can be very busy during the summer seasons. There is some incredible hiking and scenery that will make the trip worth it.

And don't worry, I think I'm still curious enough to check out the lava the next time I make it out that way. But I wouldn't be sure on that whole "having more sense" thing. ;-)

DSD said...

Yam is one fo my favorites!
A great day out...

Michelle said...

I agree! It's very tough to have a bad day on Yamnuska, even when it's icy or windy, or so muddy I'm sliding all the way down on my butt! ;-)