Black Prince Lakes December 11, 2004

GR244254 height:    approx. 2,550 m (7,380 ft)
Elevation gain:          approx. 700 m

Snowshoeing and scrambling with Mark.

Another reconnaissance mission, this time to check out possible ascent routes for Mount Black Prince and the outlier to the northeast of Mount Warspite . We expected snow and bad weather in the morning and clearing in the afternoon - and that's exactly what we got. Unfortunately, by the time the clouds cleared we had long since turned around and were well into our descent.

Snowshoeing to Lake Warspite was quick and easy and we thought the remainder of the trip would be the same. It was until we arrived at the final ascent slope leading to cirque beneath Mount Warspite. Here the terrain was quite avalanche prone, (as the huge fields of avalanche debris would attest to) and caution was in order. We ascended the debris until we were confronted with the short, but much steeper section on the climbers right of Warspite Cascades. Here, there was no avalanche debris, the snow was very deep and unconsolidated and it was now snowing to boot! - prime conditions for a slide. To minimize the potential of starting and/or getting caught in an avalanche, we moved into the cover of the trees on the left and ascended there. Though short, ascending the steep slope, through powdery, waist-deep snow was as physically exerting as anything we have ever done and it took as a solid hour to cover about 200 m of terrain (not that I should complain - Mark led the whole ascent!).

By the time we made it to the cirque, the clouds had closed in to the point where we couldn't even see Mount Warspite
at the end. We ventured further into the cirque and waited for a break in the cloud cover. There were a few clear breaks, but all were followed by more thick clouds and we decided to turn around. Ascending the outlier to the left was a possibility, however, it looked it be a major avalanche waiting to happen.

Our grueling hour-long, 200 m ascent, took about 5 minutes to descend and naturally by the time we were down, the clouds started to break up. We had no intention of slogging up that slope again and settled for a pretty fine view of the north face of the outlier peak, under increasingly clear skies.

Arriving at the cirque below Mount Warspite (centre)

 

Mount Warspite 

 

The outlier peak, as seen on descent 

 

Snow blowing off the outlier peak

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