North America, Canada, Selkirks, Mount Sir Donald, First Winter Ascent

Publication Year: 1966.

Mount Sir Donald, First Winter Ascent. For a number of years I had in mind the first winter ascent of Mount Sir Donald. Donald Liska, Dave Beckstead, Alex Bertulis and I left the Illecillewat campground on March 19 and proceeded to the slopes just below the west face of Sir Donald, two of us on skis and two on snowshoes until 7000 feet, above which we all found it easier to walk. In two hours we dug a spacious snow cave for the night. Since one of the heaviest snowfall depths on record had built up great cornices on the northwest ridge, we vetoed that route in favor of the old guide route, using the great couloir on the southeast face, then making a traversing climb rightwards to the upper southeast ridge. Conditions were so excellent that we did not rope until we had cramponed up the 1000-foot height of the couloir. Then more exacting exposure on the traverses above called for careful step work and constant belays. Three steep pitches above proved to be the most difficult on the climb and we cut steps and placed ice screws for safety. Once on the ridge, we had no further problems except for a 20-foot rock step leading to the false south summit. After getting over this, using crampons on small rock holds, we belayed two final exposed pitches along the sensational corniced ridge to the highest point.

Fred Beckey