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Cathedral Mountain by Ski and Boot
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TOPIC: Cathedral Mountain by Ski and Boot
#331
Cathedral Mountain by Ski and Boot 4 Years ago  
With an avi-forecast of Low, Low & Low and temperatures too cold to stand around, a group of 5 ACCers (self-organized trip) headed up Mount Cathedral Mountain by Field.

Snow pack was supportive in the trees and rock hard in the alpine. Actually, it was more rock than snow in the alpine, but when there was snow, it was rock hard. There was a total of 40 cm of snow up high on the glacier and 0 cm on the toe, but I didn't see any holes. Are there any? Looking back at the pictures, we did a lot of boot packing. Ski crampons were very helpful, real crampons were not. Ice axe was more useful for some.

Summit views were beautiful on a brutally cold, crisp day.

Ski quality was killer. I'd say this is a mountaineering trip that used skis rather than a ski trip.

On the way down, one of our group crashed quite badly, dislocating a shoulder. The crash was about 400 horizontal (25 vertical) meters from the fire road, so, so close to home. First-aid sucks at temperatures dropping well below -20C. The victim was convinced to keep moving and slogged his way to the fire-road under a lot of pain. We made it back to the parking lot with the assistance of a Parks snowmobile (we carried a sat phone). We were all very grateful for the help as another 2 hours in those temperatures would not have been fun, frost bite had already started in one of the rescuers. It is amazing how slow things get with an injured member. From the crash site, we were less than 30 minutes to the parking lot by a healthy skier, but 3 hours with an injured one (including the assistance from Parks), likely 5 hours without help.

Part II
Our route followed the Lake O'hara fire road past the 3 km marking to the opening on the right (~3.5 km). We broke trail through the opening, contouring the shoulder until we came to the main drainage. The drainage is a bit more open and easier skinning than the treas. We followed the main drainage past the point where the summer trail heads up a shoulder and continued until the trees opened up. A short distance later, there is a gully tucked around the corner which we skied and boot-packed to the top (sweaty even in the cold). We then followed a bench to the toe of the glacier, gained the glacier in the least steep spot and headed to the ridge crest that lead to the peak. The ridge crest seems steeper than it actually is although a bad tumble could be hard to stop in some places. We reversed the route as any of them more fun ski descents had minimal snow.
Matthew Breakey
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