Winter Ascent of Mount Robson

Canada, Canadian Rockies
Author: Eric Bjornstad. Climb Year: 1965. Publication Year: 1966.

Winter Ascent of Mount Robson. During the first week of March, Fred Beckey, Alex Bertulis, Tom Stuart and I ascended Mount Robson in two independent groups. Alex and I climbed straight through the Berg Glacier to the base of the north face and into it, but we gave it up and traversed down from the Helmet Col to the east face, proceeding through it to the summit. Fred and Tom came up along the Robson Glacier and climbed to the top of the Dome through the dangerous icefall below (in company with Eric Bjornstad). From there they also took the Kain east-face route. The weather was superbly clear and stable and not very cold. Snow conditions proved excellent: for example, we could kick steps or crampon over the east face very rapidly without any belays. Alex and I used only caves on the mountain, and the whole trip from Robson station and back took 6 days. It was made on snowshoes and skis, the latter being most advantageous. The mountain was climbed under winter conditions by Vin Hoe- man, Dave Johnston and Pete Robinson in April 1963 and so officially in the "spring." (A.A.J., 1964, 14:1, pp. 202-3.) Robson has seen at least four previous winter attempts: H. Mather climbed alone to the base of the north face during New Years of 1957-8 but turned back because of the cold (-40°). Leslie Wilson and I climbed Mount Resplendent in a storm and made a complete loop around Robson in January 1963, in an attempt to climb a 6000-foot couloir leading to the base of the east face below Little Robson. We abandoned the couloir halfway and reached the Resplendent-Robson col, where the storm and lack of time stopped us. In December 1963 Charles Sawyer and I repeated the same route, getting higher in the couloir, but were nearly swept off by an avalanche. Charles’ crampon broke at the col which ended that attempt. During New Years of 1964-65 Monrad Kjorlien, Jasper Park warden whose territory of patrol includes Robson, joined me in yet another attempt, this time on skis up the Robson Glacier, but a storm overcame us below the top of the Dome. Robson does not seem to be a heavy snow mountain, and temperatures in higher areas normally range from 0° to -20° F. Innocent snow flurries occur frequently. Storms apparently do not ordinarily last more than two or three days, but they may bring simultaneously very high winds, heavy snowfall and intense cold (-40°).

Leif-Norman Patterson