American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Canada, Canadian Rockies: Mt. Monchy and Mt. Hooge

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1949

Canadian Rockies: Mt. Monchy and Mt. Hooge. Travelling up the valley of the Alexandra River, one may have glimpses of Mt. Hooge (10,550 ft.), set far back at the head of Amery Creek. This region has been little visited; and even Mt. Amery (10,943 ft.), to the W., has apparently been climbed but once—by the Rt. Hon. L. S. Amery himself. Most climbers have continued on to the peaks of the Continental Divide, such as Alexandra and Bryce, although S. B. Hendricks and Rex Gibson attempted to make a crossing of the ridge by way of the N. Lyell Glacier in 1937.

On 19 July 1948 Fred Ayres, Don Woods and John C. Oberlin forded the N. Saskatchewan River at the Graveyard and continued up the N. bank of the Alexandra River to about one-third of a mile above the point where Amery Creek enters. They were unable to cross the Alexandra sooner. A crossing was here forced with difficulty, and the party made its way rather steeply uphill, following the bank of the creek where possible. Camp was made about even with the first large buttress of Mt. Amery, although a higher camp would have been preferable.

Next day, entering the cirque at the head of the creek, the party found the prospect of climbing anything very discouraging. The large upper glaciers no longer maintain any connection with the glacial remnant at the bottom, and a continuous high wall extends around the entire cirque with a number of waterfalls dropping sheer.

The key to access to the upper slopes is a long, steep and very unpleasant scree slope, buttressing the cliffs of Mt. Willerval (10,420 ft.) and leading to some hidden scree ledges (falling rocks). These ledges in turn permit one to gain the glacier below the Monchy-Willerval col. This glacier is crossed, and a snow tongue and rock ridge ascended, until a traverse can be made to the left to reach the steeply sloping glacier on the flank of Mt. Hooge above the cliff and icefall. This is then followed, by a steep ascent to the left, until a bergschrund having an overhanging upper lip bars the way. Ayres, who was leading, cut through this; but it could be avoided by a more circuitous route to the left. The remainder of the climb is an easy snow walk, with the summits of Mts. Hooge and Monchy (10,530 ft.) only a short stroll apart.

Mt. Willerval could obviously be ascended for some distance from the Monchy-Willerval col, but time did not permit the party to investigate the possibilities after its return to the lower glacier. The upper cliffs may prove difficult (it was impossible to see the Ridges Creek side of the mountain), and the ridge may be none too easy to follow to the summit.

J. C. O.

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