Other related links:
- Fissile NE Face
- One day Spearhead Traverse
- Fissile like a Missile Couloir
- Whirlwind and Overlord Glacier
- Map of Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Range; 1:50,000
- 1: 20,000 TRIM data BC government maps of the Fitzsimmon and Spearhead Ranges
Today was my last day and also a big day. The Swiss and us were planning on taking a crack at some of the big N faces in the Fitzsimmons Glacier. Brad and Robin were gunning for a reverse Spearhead. The hut was hustle and bustle with activity at 6am and we didn’t even let some night-time visitors (who kindly burnt salmon on their stove then left the stench-filled hut for a tent) disturb us.
Dawn saw us all out the door.
Up the Fissile Glacier again at dawn
Cheakamus Glacier in early morning light
Dawn skin to Fissile – Whirlwind Col
Brad and Robin on an early season reverse Spearhead
We made great time and did the shortcut over to the col just W of Overlord Mtn traversing blocks of house and bus-sized cornice debris.
Why you move quickly when under cornices – below Refuse Pinnacle
Looking back to the Overlord Glacier from the col just W of Overlord Mtn
More sastrugi on Benvolio Glacier – looking north to the Spearhead Range
Soon we were on Benvolio Glacier again where we had a good look (Jon’s first look) at Fitzsimmons. It looked pretty wind-hammered and the crevasses and schrund still looked dicey so we changed plans and decided to head for Mt Benvolio instead. The Swiss must have had the same idea as we quickly picked up their tracks.
Jon likes the possibilities in Refuse Creek
Looking down to Mt Fitzsimmons from the Benvolio Glacier W col
It was really windy on Benvolio col and we knew it’d be windy on Benvolio and Fitzsimmons. Amazing how Fitzsimmons creek creates its own weather - pattern. Meanwhile in the shade we had lunch and took in the views.
Diavolo Glacier looking east
A private moment with my Tankers
Brad coming off Benvolio Col toward Mt Fitzsimmons
North face of Fitzsimmons
Route to Mt Fitzsimmons from the south ~photo Jon Armstrong
You can skin quite a ways up to the saddle at Fitzsimmons then bootpack the rest of the way. The snow was getting a bit sun-affected but it was still so cold that footholds were still good.
Bootpack to saddle ~photo Jon Armstrong
With the assurance that snow conditions would be stable – if a bit wind-hammered – we decided to summit Benvolio. Again, footholds were good and no crampons or rope was necessary on this day. It is always an exlihirating feeling to be on top of the world on one of the peaks of the Fitzsimmons Range!
Bootpack route from col to the peak
Short if a bit steep and exposed climb of summit ridge
View looking NW down Fitzsimmons Crk
Jon downclimbing the summit ridge
Enough climbing though. We are here to ski. The Swiss have kindly put in a track around the very visible crevasses. The slope rollovers so I lose sight of Jon quickly. For me, there’s always an electricity in the air when descending a steep slope in the mountains, no matter how many times I have done so. Today was no exception and the very nice boot top snow I had as soon as I crossed the convexity and got to the middle of the slope made it all worthwhile. Unfortunately, just as soon as the slope started opening up and I thought that I could let my skis run — sigh … windslab.
Descending the N face of Fitzsimmons
Jon approaching the rollover of Fitzsimmons’s N Face where the slope steepens to 50 degrees
540 vertical metres later and we’re safely down at the bottom of the Fitzsimmons Glacier. From there it’s quite easy to skin around some of the icefalls and gain Overlord Col again. The route from there back to Russet Lake is familiar.
Jon pointing at the slope which we skied.
View of Fitzsimmons, Benvolio and Overlord from Macbeth col ~photo Frank Baumann
Exit route from Fitzsimmons Glacier to Overlord col
We dawdle a bit more at Overlord Col and take in more breathtaking views. I simply can’t get enough of mountains or the alpine.
View from Overlord Col to N faces of Fitzsimmons and Benvolio
Looking to Fitzsimmons with MacBeth Glacier as the backdrop
We almost make it over Cowboy Ridge and Singing Pass in daylight and only have to resort to headlamps for the last few kilometres. No-one breaks anything by skiing into the still open ditches at the bottom of the trail.
The last hurdle – Mount Wendys in Squampton
Our route on Jan 14, 2007 (red is approach – black is departure)
Elevation profile for the day