Mount Fullerton September 19, 2004

Mountain height:       2,728 m (8,950 ft)
Elevation gain:          1,100 m
Ascent time:             
Descent time:         
Roundtrip distance:   approx. 27 km 

Solo scramble.

The plan for the day was to scramble up Mount Fullerton’s northeast ridge and then attempt a descent of the more difficult southeast ridge. Actually, that’s not quite true…..the initial plan was to plant myself in front of the TV with the remote control to enjoy 9 straight hours of NFL football (11 if you count the pre-game show), while stuffing my face with one of those huge, 750 g bags of potato chips, 2 litres of pop, and a 6-pack of Canada’s finest brew (Moosehead), in the faint hope that I might gain back some of the weight I lost during this summer’s scrambling season – rough life, hey?!!

As of Saturday morning, Sunday’s weather forecast was a miserable, rainy one. However, Saturday night, that changed and went from the worst possible forecast to almost the best – mainly sunny. Given the last few weeks of bad weather, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to do an ascent in decent conditions and so I biked down Little Elbow Trail for the second time in as many days. For a minute, I actually considered going up Mount Remus (again, for the second time in two days) to see some of that great scenery, backdropped by a beautiful blue sky, but decided it would be nice to have Mark along.

 I left the parking lot at 6:35 am , hoping to get back in time to watch an afternoon game. 3.5 km of riding and a solid hour of fairly dull, fast walking along dried-up Nihahi Creek, later, I began the easy ascent of the northeast ridge. Initially, the scenery was not terribly interesting, but having seen the ascent route from Nihahi Ridge three weeks earlier, I really wasn’t expecting much. Once on the ridge, the view did improve and the scrambling got a little more interesting, though it was still very easy.

I arrived at the summit, exactly 3 hours after leaving, to a terrific view of Mount Romulus and yesterday’s Mount Remus. Also notable were Glasgow, Cornwall, Fisher Peak, numerous snow-covered peaks of the Opal Range, and you could even see the first window on Compression Ridge.

After a short stay, I started down the southeast ridge, promising myself that if I came to any section that made me feel even remotely uncomfortable, I would turn around and go back the way I came. Half an hour into the descent, I came to that section. It was only a couple of steps down to a ledge, but there was exposure on both sides. Even though a slip would have been unlikely, I couldn’t get the tragic events of last week’s death on Mount Richardson and the very poignant ensuing discussion on the Rocky Mountain Webboard, regarding “avoidable accidents”, out of my head. This was the quintessential avoidable accident and so after a feeble attempt, I turned around. Had I not been alone, descending the small step would have not been an issue at all, but I was, and as small as it was, I simply couldn’t justify risk.

Two minutes into the return, I changed my mind and went back down to try again. I was just lowering my leg down to the ledge when the thought, “I don’t want to be another statistic”, went rushing through my head. I immediately pulled my leg up and without hesitation headed back to the summit. We’ll all be just a statistic someday…… I just don’t see the point on rushing it!

My descent down the northeast ridge was hampered by an annoying and very uncomfortable knee pain and I was more hobbling than hiking by the time I reached Nihahi Creek. Thankfully, the hike and bike ride back were much easier on the knee, and I made it back to the car at 1:30 pm – just enough time to speed home and catch a football game. Overall, a somewhat mundane scramble, but the terrific summit view certainly justifies the ascent and by chickening out of the southeast ridge, I at least have an excuse to go back.   

P.S. I arrived home to the unhappy news that my Rams had lost 34-17 to the Falcons. Had I stayed at home, I would have just ended up swearing my face off, throwing things (like empty Moosehead bottles) at the TV, and elevating my blood pressure to dangerous levels – the mountains were a good choice after all!

On the ridge, looking towards the summit


Looking back along the ridge towards Nihahi and Compression Ridge (behind the mountain in the foreground)


The twins: Mount Remus (left) and Mount Romulus (right)


Glasgow and Cornwall (left) and Mount Remus to the right 


Looking along the southeast ridge (I wanted to use this as a descent route because of all the downclimbing required when used as an ascent route)


A closer look at Mount Romulus

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