Mount Fitzsimmons – North face – Overlord Glacier

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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

View from Fitzsimmons Mtn looking east to the Ubyssey Glacier et al

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

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