Day 2 – St. Nicholas Peak, Vulture Peak and Balfour Hut
Most of us have a good night sleep, mainly because Scott is custodian of the hut and is sleeping in a separate room therefore nobody is bothered by his awful snoring that we are exposed to the two nights after. It was of no surprise that Kelly this morning is preparing egg Benedict for breakfast while the rest of us are chewing away our first portion of oatmeal. At around 9 AM Clayton and I are ready to head out and we start going up the headwall again towards the Wapta glacier. I am breaking trail for a bit but probably take too much time taking pictures because soon enough Clayton passes me and takes off on me. He does a great job breaking trail but is probably glad when Matt is catching up to us who eagerly takes over to lead the way to the St. Nicholas/Olive.
When we started out the weather was decent but the closer we get to the St. Nick/Olive col the more clouds move in and by the time we are there the wind is howling and cold with barely any views left. We are waiting for Greg and Robin to arrive and some of us have plans to ascend St. Nicholas Peak so Bill, Clayton and I head out towards the summit. Bill is taking lots of pictures so I follow Clayton (thanks again for all that trail breaking!) to the summit. Travelling is very easy with all that snow, so easy that one of the guys that was spending the night in Bow Hut with us the night before passes us just before we get to the summit…on ski’s! The last little bit is a bit trickier and steeper so we kick-step our way to the summit and are soon joined by Kelly and Matt. Bill is still in the distance taking pictures of everybody and is already passed by Greg and Robin.
We all take our mandatory hero summit shots which turn out good since in the mean time the sun has come through and the views have opened up. We carefully descend from the summit and head back to the col where Scott is waiting for us (he had done St. Nicholas before). The other fellow skies down from the summit and at the col he is taking his skins off and descends the east side of the peak back to the hut.
I had learned from Vern Dewit (www.explor8ion.com
) that there is an easy ascent of Vulture peak from the col before heading down to Balfour hut. Not everybody seems to be interested so Clayton, Kelly and I are on our way and are soon joined by Matt. It takes us about an hour and a half to ski all the way to the top and enjoy great views of all surrounding peaks. Interesting enough, the last entries in the register are from Vern, TJ and Ben a year ago so this peak is rarely ascended. We ski right from the summit and enjoy some good snow and carve some nice turns (at least the others do ;-)) and then a nice glide to the Balfour Hut where we join the others.
Since it is still early and the weather is great we decide to do some crevasse rescue practice in the back yard of the hut. We grab Scott, the largest guy in our group, put the rope on him and throw him “in the pit”. It is very interesting to see that different people have learned different techniques for hauling a person out. We have some good discussions going on and we all learn something new…this while Scott is still in the hole so after a while we start feeling sorry for him and pull him out.
We all enjoy a good meal and my rope team is glad to see that the other team is now also eating freeze dried food although Bill makes it look like it is a home cooked meal. It is decided that the Balfour hut is probably the hut with the best view from the outhouse and that these outhouses generate some interesting geological phenomena’s (i.e. poop stalagmites). Before heading to bed I do another reach in Greg his medicine pack so I can enjoy another peaceful sleep…that turns out a bit different for some of us…