A good night’s sleep brought us fresh legs. Stu skinned in from the Duffey road to join Louie and Lee at Keith’s Hut at 8am and we were off on our way to check out Mt. Duke (2497m). It’s a bit of a long walk to get there but it’s 200m lower than Matier, and the NW ridge looked pretty simple. Famous last words though as we failed to summit foiled by a conspiracy of circumstances including, Tyler’s flailing ice-climbing skills, facet-wallowing through steep rime just before the summit bulge (1 hour – 50m elevation gained) and town-house sized cornices on the ridgeline.
Turning back about 20m short of Duke’s summit at about 1:30 we skied back to a windlip that led to Duke’s mainly N – facing bowl and dropped in to pow of acceptable quality. A moraine ridge feature then allowed us to skin to 100m short of Duke’s summit where we dropped into N – facing pow for a 600m run. We then climbed back out of Duke and up to Vantage and skied off the NW face from its peak. Then up to the sub-peak just S of Vantage for one more run of NW facing snow of quality that was adequate for needs (this face was amazingly untouched). We were all feeling a bit fatigued so dawdled back to the hut for another 11hour day with 2160m of vert.
Our biggest epic was faced that night as a late evening arrival of steak and couscous dinner preparers threathened to asphyxiate us with dinner smoke as we were sleeping. Fortunately we made it through to the next day alive. Unfortunately the high alpine weather broke for the worse on April 9th and we contented ourselves with lower elevation powder skiing laps finishing up with a restful 1500m of elevation gain and then skiing out back to the road.
Up the toe of the Anniversary glacier to wrap around to Duke-Vantage col. Joffre Peak is on the right
Duke-Vantage col early morning. Duke’s NW ridge is picture centre and looks like a cakewalk. Snowspider is picture right
Closer look at the NW ridge of Duke
Walking up Duke
We skinned then bootpacked Duke’s NW ridge. About 150m shy of the summit is a couloir I had scoped out. However, cornices to the left of us, cornices to the right of us and a cornice in the centre deters!
Failure! To lookers left of the rock-band the cornice overhangs a long drop to the N bowl. Not sure if we could have wrapped a long way around all the rime features to approach the summit from S. Maybe next time
Wilkes off the NW ridge
Stu skis our retreat off the NW ridge
About 250m down from turnaround a windhole breaks the N facing ridge cornices. Louie gets to go first
Stu on the entry
Good snow sets the tone nicely
After we go down, we go back up (what looked liked a moraine feature)
The moraine feature gets us close enough to the summit. You can then drop down a NW slope or down this steeper NNW facing bowl. Wilkes slashes a turn
The entire reason for this trip was to self-promote and to showcase fine products from Dynafit, K2 and Scarpa (Maestrale boots not pictured but worn)
Skinning up to Vantage Peak; Duke’s N face in the background
We finished off the 3 day trip with laps off Vantage Peak as deteriorating alpine weather deterred further glacier excursions.
Next objective – Foon Face