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AMCR - Fairy Meadows
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TOPIC: AMCR - Fairy Meadows
#351
AMCR - Fairy Meadows 4 Years, 3 Months ago  
For vacation, some people go to the beach, play sports and get a tan, some people go to gamble in Las Vegas, others travel to foreign locations to see beautiful sites. I can honestly say that Fairy Meadows is all of the above.

Located in the Northern Selkirks, east of the Adamant range, the hut is situated in some of the most rugged terrain in Canada. The glaciers are huge, spanning well over 1 km of vertical in a short horizontal distance. The vertical makes both excellent skiing as well crevasses large enough to devour entire trains. Stunningly beautiful, stunningly dangerous, we had no troubles keeping our eyes open.

The hut is remarkably well designed (thanks Bill), very comfortably sleeping 20 wet and well equipped skiers. Just at tree line, the hut provides easy access to terrain that is beautiful and serious, right from the porch. Below the hut are a few treed bowls that are peppered with cliffs, shoots, avalanche paths and terrain traps. The terrain above the hut is significantly more complex with major glaciers, some fine summits of varied difficulty, and constant difficult avalanche evaluation. To hammer home the point, a young lady was killed in a size 2.5 avalanche the day before we were to fly in on a relatively simpler area of the Gothics Glacier (pictured).

When the conditions and weather cooperates, there is a lot to do. Sir William, Enterprise, Sentinel, Pioneer, Daemon and Fria are all good ski mountaineering objectives that require little technical gear. Turns off Cycle peak, Outpost bowl, the Forbes glacier, Sir William, Granite Glacier, Houdini Needles, Friendship Col, Fria and Sentinel can all be great in the right conditions. In the wrong conditions, watch out. Maps will be posted to the ACC webpage sometime in the future

Fairy Meadows is a spectacular hut in a spectacular setting, but that setting is advanced terrain with little to no intermediate terrain and requires good conditions and weather. A summary of some of the routes is below:

Crevasse Practice: There are some wind lips just above the water hole. Trees above the wind lip make great back-up anchors (use a real snow anchor) and the wind lip is as close to pulling a real crevasse lip without actually falling into a real crevasse.

Friendship Col: Follow the moraines south of the hut and gain the large bowl between Houdini Needles and Sentinel Peak. Follow the moraine west of the glacier to Gog and Magog, pass below them and follow the glacier up to the nicest of the cols that gain the Gothics Glacier

Mount Daemon: From Friendship Col, boot pack to the top (3rd class with a few low consequence rock moves). Low avi hazard.

Mount Pythias: Did not attempt due to objective hazard from cliffs at the bottom of slide/sluffable slopes.

Sentinel Peak: Ski up the south ridge. Significant avalanche hazard. As the ridge steepens, boot pack to the summit (3rd class)

Pioneer: Next time!

Fria: follow the east ridge to near the summit. Skin the wind lip until it becomes too steep and boot pack the rest. The true summit may require 5.0 climbing for 5-10 m. Other summit is about the same height and is much easier. Excellent turns off of the ridge to the Gothics Glacier. Watch out for the crevasse field in the middle of the slope. Even better would be not to lose a ski and have it slide away, finally coming to a rest in the very middle of said crevasse field. Apparently, those crevasse bridges can hold the weight of one skier.

Granite Glacier: Follow the moraines south of the hut to the first moraine bench and head west under Sentinel Peak. Easily gain the Granite Glacier and follow one of 3 routes. 1) Traverse the steep slope onto a low bench towards Mount Colossal 2) Head towards Adamant and cross the large bench towards Mount Colossal 3) The high route, not attempted.

Horny Col: Cross the Granite Glacier and then head back between Austerity and Unicorn. Potential for scrambles (consult North Selkirks). Significant crevasse hazard.

UniCol: Cross the Granite Glacier then head to the col between Colossal and Unicorn.

Mount Colossal: Cross the Granite Glacier and gain the basin between Colossal and Enterprise. Skin the east ridge up the wind lip until it steepens and then boot pack (take skis). True summit could be low 4th/low 5th rock.

Enterprise Peak: Two routes completed. The first route climbs steeply from the basin between Enterprise and Colossal. Steep slopes that require good enough stability. The other option it to head up from the col between Cycle and Enterprise peak. Weave between crevasses to the top. The top is a mellow plateau. Note sure which peak is higher, but the east peak makes better pictures.

Mount Sir William: Ski to the base of the east ridge of Colossal, then to the east ridge of Enterprise. Descent down to the Forbes glacier (very nice run). Skin-up to the col between Enterprise and Cycle peaks. This slope receives significant sun and is reasonably steep. Once on the glacier, skin up the massive east face of Sir William, we went up the south-east ridge. Excellent ski down.
Matthew Breakey
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