Birdwood Mountain attempt II – July 21, 2007            

Round trip time: 14:35

Scrambling and alpine climbing with Mark.

So that’s what it feels like when your testicles decide to migrate up into your throat and stay there for 7 hours straight?!

A good friend and I were discussing why the northwest ridge has never become the standard route up the beautifully aesthetic form of Mount Birdwood. From Commonwealth Creek the ridge looks almost “easy” – nothing more than a moderate, perhaps difficult scramble. Mark and I found out firsthand why is hasn’t.

Of course, we did a little research before setting out. Rocky Mountains of Canada South describes the ascent as, “a pleasant climb on good rock”, while Rick Collier’s Bivouac description says, “mostly scrambling, with climbing up to 5.5 on loose rock.” Mr. Collier’s description is definitely more accurate, specially the "loose rock" part. I guess, really what we weren’t mentally prepared for was the significant amount of nail-biting exposure as soon as the climbing started. In retrospect, the actual climbing was not difficult and using rock shoes did make it easier. However, our progress was very slow, due to the need to set up sound belays on suspect rock.

At 5:15 pm (8 hours into the trip) and 150 vertical metres from the summit, we had to abandon the attempt. We knew that getting down would take as long as getting up and we would be making at least one rappel station. Even a fair vertical distance from the summit, the view was magnificent. As expected the descent was slow, but at least it was safe. We arrived back at the car just before midnight.

An “exhilarating” day, to say the least, but a more than worthwhile learning experience. 


The obligatory shot of Birdwood from the meadows by Commonwealth Creek; 
photo taken 24 hours later on a better weather day


Moose are commonly seen in the area


The lower Birdwood Lake 


Starting up the lower ridge, with Sir Douglas to the right


Typical terrain on the lower part of the ridge


Typical terrain on the upper part of the ridge


The climbing starts with some moderate/difficult scrambling


Then it stops being moderate/difficult scrambling


Traversing the ridge to the climbing sections


A closer look 


Mark is barely visible on the ridge; Mount Smuts to the right


Searching for a route up 


At our highpoint for the day


The second of two rappels


Looking southwest towards The Royal Group; King George at the left


The view towards Spray Lake; The Fist is the centre foreground and the dominant peak in the centre background is Old Goat Mountain