This the third in a five part series of posts on our adventures in the Lake O’Hara area. Here, we take you along on a virtual scramble, up the steep scree slope to Abbot Hut. If you missed the earlier posts, go here:
For months, I’d been staring and staring at these images on our planning board. How in the world would I be able to get up that red lined route? How would I be able to climb something that steep? that shifty? that unstable? and that scary!?!?
We’d been practicing on hikes and light scrambles, like Eiffel Peak and Memorial Lakes and the Paradise Valley approach to Sentinel Pass (probably the best of the bunch as it’s most like what you encounter here), all with steep sections and unstable rock, scrambling parts and plenty of exposure. The practice was an attempt to to wrap our minds, hearts, fears and muscle memories around how to do the Abbot Pass scree slope with ease. We’d been working on our endurance with lengthy distances. We’d been working on our fitness with runs and hikes and bike rides. We were as prepared as we could be.
At some point you just have to commit. You just have to do it. And so we did! And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared it would be.
It was hard from an endurance standpoint… I was certainly huffing and puffing with the elevation, the weight of the pack on my back and the steepness of the climb.
It was loose and exposed, but we had a solid plan, and everyone in our group was careful and deliberate in their actions. We had people more experienced with us to ensure we were keeping to best practices, and we were committed to staying together.
It was certainly long, taking us about 2.5 hours to get up there from the shore of Lake Oesa to the top, with breaks (the young climbers and endurance athletes in our group could have gone up much faster without the old people (like me) and those with bionic knee braces slowing them down! (ha!).
And it was most definitely type two, maybe 2.5 fun! But the sense of accomplishment (and relief!) once we emerged up top was like nothing in this world!
Come along and see for yourself what it was like.
When those loose boulders are big, they can carry tremendous momentum when they get dislodged and fall down the mountain side. They pick up speed and can bounce, delivering a punch that can knock a man flat or start a rock slide. They are so loose in places like this that walking below them and shifting another rock below them can send them and the rocks beside them, sliding down with ease. Staying close together means that no one gets caught by a bouncing missile!
It was time to use that fabulous outhouse, melt some snow, boil some water, unpack, and settle in for the night, sharing some great food (including a fortifying pasta meal), wonderful friendship, much-needed drinks, music, laughter, comraderie & games! (And push to the side all thoughts of what it was going to be like to head back down that slope the next day!)
Appies & drinks hit the spot!
Looking at our route up.
Up this ladder is the sleeping area.
The guitar made for some atmosphere.
This is how you know which water pot to cook & drink from. Love the labelling!
You fill buckets of snow for water.
Bringing in the snow buckets was easy work for the young guys, not yet tired from the hike up.
Great friends + a successful adventure under our belts = good times!
Such an incredible place to experience the mountains, meet great people and share experiences.
Cancellations are also posted on the Yoho Trail Conditions page by Parks Canada. Be flexible about your dates, keep this page open on your phone, refresh it frequently, and you’re far more likely to get in. (Thanks for the tip, Ian!)
Click here for more terrific hikes in Yoho National Park. And check out more hikes from Canada and our adventures around the world here.
Trekking up a mountain’s shoulder, hiking through a flowering alpine meadow, snowshoeing through a dense pine forest, or taking in the 360 degree views from a ridge top vantage point make me feel alive. The experiences in these places give me a profound sense of space and place.
Travel does a similar thing, pushing me out of my comfort zone, exposing me to new experiences, new people and new ways of thinking; it also gives me that sense of space and place in this world.
I believe that life is lived in the contrasts: when you experience simplicity and complexity and life's ups and downs, whether they be physically in this world or mentally in your own personal inner landscape, you know that you are truly living.
The bigger they are, the more there is to explore!