Tiara Peak – June 11, 2006

Mountain height:    2533 m
Elevation gain:        800 m 
Ascent time:           5:40
Descent time:         2:00

Scrambling with Mark, Serge, and Linda.

A bitter/sweet and most humbling day. Serge offered the idea of trying Tiara Peak as a group scramble several weeks previous on the RMB Webboard, and so he, Linda, Mark, and I set off towards Belmore Browne Peak on an overcast and rainy Sunday. Quickly, we decided to make a beeline for the connecting ridge between Tiara and Belmore and make a stab at the higher summit first – Tiara Peak. On the way, we noticed a figure on the ridge far ahead of us and suspected it might be Rod McAlister. We had already run into Alda and Sim, who were after Belmore Browne as well as Tiara, and thought it quite unusual to have three separate parties trying to ascend this relatively obscure little peak. I knew Alda and Sim through reputation only (as amazing scramblers) and so it was a pleasure to meet them.    

The weather as expected, was inclement, to say the least – periods of rain, some snow, some hail and very little in the way of clearing. Nevertheless, it was at times, entertaining to watch the clouds race by at an incredible pace. By the time we reached the ridge, low-lying clouds had moved in all around us and visibility was almost non-existent. We traversed the ridge towards Tiara until a figure suddenly emerged from the clouds in front of us. Indeed, it was Rod. He had already made the summit of Tiara Peak, via a direct route up a class four gully and was on his way down. Though we hoped there would be a scramble route up the steep summit block, we had brought a rope and some protection along and didn’t think the gully would pose a problem.

After saying goodbye to Rod, we checked out two different gullies and then I started up the second and least steep looking one. Unfortunately, I didn’t make much progress up this one. The rock was wet, loose, handholds were few and small, and there was nowhere to place protection. Also my hands were freezing, making the climbing that much more difficult. As I was making my feeble effort up, Alda and Sim had also gained the bottom of the summit block and had started up the first gully. I backed down the second gully and then we started to traverse around the block to the easy southwest ascent route. Within a few, I changed my mind I decided to give the second gully another go. My hands had warmed up by that time and I felt a little more confident that with another attempt, I could get above the crux of the second gully. I was wrong and although a did progress a little further, a steep section without any decent footholds proved to be too much for me and I spent a good 15 minutes trying to get down about 3 metres of rock.

As I was getting to the bottom, so were Alda and Sim, who had visited the summit and then downclimbed the cliffband, via the first gully. Of course, this motivated us to try that gully and so with some good advice from Alda to check all the handholds (tons of loose rock), up I went for attempt number three. For the third time, I arrived at terrain that was beyond my comfort level (steep, exposed, and loose) and frustrated and a little dejected, I downclimbed to the bottom yet again.

Of course, at this point, there was little option, but to traverse around the summit block and attain the summit via the easy southwest slopes. The scenery around the south end of the block was very interesting, but as we arrived at the summit, the clouds once again, enshrouded the entire summit block and there were little views to peak of.  

Thankfully, an easy and much shorter alternate descent route suggested by Rob Eastick, made the return trip fast and pain-free. It was nice to make the summit, but failure to ascend the more challenging terrain, left me feeling a little empty. We’ll definitely be back in more favourable weather conditions to try again. Hats off to Rod, Alda, and Sim for reaching the summit the fast, but exceedingly more difficult way – nicely done!        

Tiara Peak (centre), with Belmore Browne Peak to the right, seen from the Powderface Trail

 

Heading up to the ridge; Belmore Browne Peak to the right

 

On the ridge, looking back to Belmore Browne

 

Clouds close in, as Mark and Serge ascend

 

Approaching the crux rockband

 

Starting up the second gully

 

Linda and Serge wait patiently for me 

 

Clouds racing off the bump to the east

 

Attempt number 2 up the second gully

 

Attempt and failure number 3

 

Checking out other potential routes up

 

Linda traverses around the south end of the block

 

Serge does the same

 

Linda and Serge, with a couple of interesting pinnacles behind

 

At the summit

 

More views of the pinnacles

 

Mark checks out the pinnacles

 

On descent

 

More interesting rock scenery on the way down

 

Same as above

Click HERE to see Linda's report

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