It was a very large group for this type of scramble. Its strange how things go, last year I called this trip with just one other joining me. Last year we missed the gully to the west ridge and didn't make the summit. This year we took the proper gully and fourteen made it to the col, nine made the west summit and five made the slightly higher east summit.
This is a spectacular trip into a remote valley probably very seldom visited. From Lake Minnewanka the route goes onto the Stewart Canyon trail. At the end of this official trail you take the gully which goes into a very narrow canyon with steep walls.
Looks like there have been climbers in here testing the walls. This persists for a while and opens up beyond the canyon. A number of open avalanche slopes occur after this and it is at the end of one of these a gully is taken on the north side. This gully is fairly steep and rubbly with lots of loose boulders.
On the way up to the cirque
The gully eventually rises into a high fairly large cirque
Lunch on the slopes below Mount Astley
where the steep climbing really begins up slopes to a high col. We took a gully which eventually steepened into rock with loose gravel on the sides and some water in places.
Heading up to the col
It was a challenge to get 14 people up without having anyone get beaned with rocks, and there were rocks being dislodged.
We finally made the col and still had another 400-500 feet to climb to the summit on a route that definitely was not a walk in the park. Five more decided to call it a day here. The rest persevered
Bob and Damian on summit ridge Mount Astley.
and the remainder made it up to the west summit where the cairn was located. However, when you looked across at the east summit it appeared marginally higher and five decided to give it a go. Between the west and east summit there is a notch with some very exposed scrambling on loose rock. It was important to take one's time here testing all hand and foot holds. Even after the notch the ridge to the east summit was loose and very rubbly with exposure on both sides.
John on the summit
Bob returning on the crumbly ridge of Mount Astley
After west summit shots were taken,
Group on summit ridge Mount Astley
the group headed back. Four of the people who had turned around at the col had already left. The remaining two people were collected and we proceeded with the slow and tedious task of getting down. Once down to the cirque it was mainly a plod back to the cars. We arrived at the cars around 7:45pm for an 10.5 hour day. Even with the loose rock, this is a worthwhile summit which gets into interesting terrain.
It was great to be in the company of John, Damian, Manfred, Rita, Ghulam, Jeannette, Janet, Russ, Corrina, Arnold, Peter, Ricardo and his two guests Pedro and Alberto. Thanks to all who helped the less experienced scramblers make it to the col and back down again. Thanks also to John and Arnold for the pictures.
Bob - Coordinator and Scribe