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Summer Camp 2003

The Freshfields

by David Mulligan
Photos by Sandy Walker, Greg McDougall, Doug Hogg



The summary for week 4 (final) week of this camp is that we all had a good time under Marg's guidance. About half of the participants made it up to the high col and knocked off peaks such as Prior, Walker and Bulyea. The other half were content with lesser scrambles on the West side of the Campbell Icefields including Mt. Alan Campbell itself. The weather was good throughout (though windy up top). Other highlights were an unscheduled crevasse rescue, a rockfall collision, a sprained knee, a flat car tire and a birthday party. We even managed to finish off week 3's surplus party supplies besides our own.

Now some details: Due to the excellent web site organization of Bill Marriott, there was negligible pre camp communication, but a flurry of emails in the final few days warning us of mountain ice, fallen trees on the access road, and the need for group gear car-carrying capacity. We met at the Husky in Golden at 7:00am on the Saturday and drove in dusty convoy to the trailhead in several hours. The new section chainsaw was put to use, and all vehicles including 4 cars made the road some with hot clutches. Paul and Josee got a flat tire on arrival and the spare looked very puny for the return, but did suffice. We assembled our gear for the chopper and walked the trail, which was well flagged and marked by Bill et al, to the orderly campsite adjacent to a small lake in a basin under the West flanks of Mt. Freshfield. Somehow, week 3's leftover party wine disappeared in a real hurry, but courtesy of Danielle, Marion et al the camp was immaculate. When the gear arrived by chopper, camp was soon established but not without some anxiety as some small bags were initially missing in the chopper interior. Most tents were pitched in a small circle utilizing previous tent pads well situated on flat but dusty gravel. A shower, outhouse, and 2 sturdy group tents completed the camp.

Sunday was a rest day. But 2 parties of 4 eventually ascended the ice route up Prior and descended the "scramble" route on its South face. I was part of another group of 3 which investigated the "scramble" route from below. We never got off the glacier as a moat separated it from rock slabs, someone rated as 5.5. This route was prone to rockfall and Christina sustained a severe blow while on descent. Brian also twisted his knee, but the 2 four person ropes made it back to camp in 14 hours: high camp was a go!

Then, as the 8 summiteers rested, I was part of a 4 person rope team to enjoy the long 14 hour return trip to Mt. Alan Campbell. This trip was the highlight of my week, though I could have done without the crevasse rescue part. As number 4 on the rope, I was engrossed in my own thoughts as we crossed the final snow field about 20 minutes below the summit. Suddenly there was a yell and a tug on the rope, and I looked up to see Antonia at number 3 missing. One moment she was there, the next she wasn't. She had opened up a substantial crevasse: 2 meters wide by 50 meters long by 5 meters deep. Inside it was nearer 5 meters wide and Antonia was dangling just above the (false?) floor. With Jon and Greg pulling from the upside and me from the downside and her prussiking, she eventually struggled out. It took us 1.25 hours. We continued to the summit to enjoy the extensive views before returning just after dark.

As the week evolved, several parties returned to the High Camp on the divide just below Mt. Prior to stay several nights. Between them the peaks: Pilkington, Bulyea, Walker, Prior, Little Johnny and Barnard were summited. Despite several scramble attempts Mt. Freshfield summit remained untouched. Another 3 person group enjoyed a one night backpack to the nearby (closed) Campbell Glacier Lodge. Ian G spent half a day digging an excellent latrine: good for all the dumps we wanted and more. One group of 3, which included Ian G and me, practiced their ice climbing techniques on moderate 25 degree ice above camp under the expert guidance of Brian. Successful scramble ascents of the "Stooges" (unofficial name for the peaks on the West side of the Campbell Glacier) were made by several parties. Another group made Mt. Alan Campbell this time without incident. Ian G's birthday was celebrated. The adjacent silty lake proved excellent both as a drinking water supply and as a fridge for the beer.

The only poor weather occurred on the last Friday night, which was unfortunate as a group of 3 had planned to return down from high camp on the Saturday morning. The temperature dropped, the wind blew and even at base camp we awoke to snow on the tents. It soon melted and the camp was easily packed up. However, for Shaun, Vic and Diane it meant a delayed descent, Saturday night at a forlorn base camp, and walking out Sunday morning. The remainder of us departed the trailhead in a heavily loaded convoy by 6:00pm on Saturday 23rd. Several stopped at the Sawmill Restaurant in Golden for a late 9:30pm dinner before returning to Calgary. I was home by 2:00am Sunday and plan to attend the slide show of the camp at the Calgary Section meeting November 18th. Thanks to Bill Marriott and everyone else for an excellent camp. Where to next year?