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Forbes / Lyells Climbing History and Information for the Icefall Brook GMC, 2004

Note – all information is based on having a camp E of the headwaters of Icefall Brook at an elevation of 7100’ and with an UTM of 963476. Estimates of the mountain elevations vary according to different guidebooks. We will get accurate information at the GMC. Elevations I have used are estimates according to the data now present. Names given to the peaks are a combination of “real” names as per the Canadian National Geographic Names Board, given and traditional names used in guidebooks and journal articles.

The Major Glaciers of the Area

The cluster of peaks surrounding Mt Forbes, the highest point in Banff National Park and 7th highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, is dominated by two significant glacier systems. The Mons Glacier is bounded on the W by the Continental Divide. This system drains entirely into the Glacier River after being joined by the W and N Forbes glaciers. The Lyell Icefield is 50 sq km in extent and on the W side drains into the tributaries of the Bush River system, including Icefall Brook. On the E side this system drains into the Glacier River system. A campsite below the toe of the SE Lyell glacier is the traditional and favored spot for climbing Mt Forbes or the Lyells. There are also smaller glacier systems to the S and E of Mt Forbes.


Peaks to the East of the Icefall Brook GMC

Ψ     Mt Forbes – (3612m/11,852’) UTM – 047452
FA – SW Ridge - 1902 (J Outram, JN Collie, HEM Stutfield, GM Weed, H Wooley, C Kaufman, H Kaufman)
A long and demanding climb not often repeated. The party followed Forbes Ck to the base of the SW ridge, turned certain steps to the E. They gained the false summit(3450m), then followed the difficult and very exposed SE ridge. The summit pitch is a narrow, rotten causeway.

W Ridge – Standard Route – 1926 (AJ Ostheimer, MM Strumia, JM Thorington, E Feuz Jr.)
Leave Forbes bivouac; ascend N Glacier to the base of the mountain. Follow snow on the right side of the NW face, angling up and right to join ridge at rock bands. Follow enjoyable ridge to the summit.
*This will likely be the route used by GMC participants. There will be a fly camp that will be used at the normal bivy site.*
*NW Face, N Ridge and the SE Ridge have also been climbed.

Ψ     E Division – (3000m/9690’) UTM – 992485
FA – E Ridge - 1918 – (Boundary Survey)
Head E from GMC base camp, turn NE up glacier and ascend W facing slopes to broad col just S of summit. Climb loose rock on ridge to summit.
*Shorter, easier and non-technical day*

Ψ     W Division – (3030m/ 9787’) UTM – 986487
FA – NW Ridge - Unknown
Head E from GMC base camp, ascend Mons Glacier to valley on SW side of Summit. Climb to top of the valley and then a short rock scramble leads to the summit
*Easier day with some climbing near summit. Variations on route include steep snow pitches on W Face. There is also the NW ridge which has 5 pitches of 5.4 rock. These are variations that may be possible during the GMC

Ψ     Rosita – (3270m/10,562’) UTM – 029458
FA – NE Snow Slopes – 1940 – (R Bosworth, DM Woods)
GMC Route – W Ridge – Head E from GMC base camp, staying on the Mons Glacier until you reach the base of the W ridge. Gain ridge crest from the NW over snow, scree and a steep slab. Follow ridge, which is a series of short pitches, rock climbing to 5.4. Descend NE snow slopes and follow Mons Glacier back to base camp.
* Very long day with a fair amount of technical climbing. Interesting ridge and a challenging climb*


Peaks to the South of the Icefall Brook GMC

Ψ     Mons Peak – (3083m/10,114’) UTM – 976452
FA – NE Ridge - 1902 (J Outram, C Kauffman)
Head E from GMC base camp, after passing N Ridge of Mons, work S, ascending the Mons Glacier. Upon reaching picturesque summit block, traverse W onto the NW ridge. Follow ridge to the summit.
*Moderate day, handsome mountain, a really fun outing. If conditions are right it is possible to ascend the steep, snowy N face to the summit*

Ψ     Cambrai Peak - (3134m/10,122’) UTM – 014426
FA – NW Ridge - 1930 (D Duncan, AF Megrew)
Head E from GMC base camp, turn S once you have rounded the N ridge of Mons Peak. Work SSE, following the Mons Glacier and flanking the W Forbes Glacier. Gain the N Ridge and follow it to the summit.
* Very nice climbing day, a moderate day. It may be possible to bag three peaks in one shot. The climbs are not overly technical but very enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Ψ     Messines Peak – (3100m/10,013’) UTM – 004427
FA – E Ridge - 1930 (D Duncan, AF Megrew)
Approach as for Cambrai Peak; descend into Cambrai/Messines col from the Cambrai summit. Follow E ridge to the Messines summit.

Ψ     St. Julien Peak – (3090m/10,236’) UTM – 994427
Approach as for Cambrai Peak, descend from Messines summit into Messines/Cambrai col. Descend from col onto Mons Glacier, and bypass Messines on the N. Once around Messines, climb the NE face of St Julien.
*St Julien is slightly more challenging than Cambrai or Messines, it is possible to do it on its own or leave it and finish the day with two peaks*

Peaks to the West of the Icefall Brook GMC

Ψ     La Clytte Peak –(2910m/9509’) UTM – 900493
FA – NE Ridge - 1954 (E Karcher, K Karcher, P Karcher, J Showacre)
Head N from the GMC base camp and onto the SW Lyell Glacier. Cross the glacier and up to the Lens/La Clytte col. Follow the NE ridge to the summit.

Ψ     Lens Peak – (3150m/10,360’) UTM – 903508
FA – E Ridge – 1954 (SB Hendricks, D Hubbard)
Head N from GMC basecamp and onto the SW Lyell Glacier. Take a long journey across the glacier to the W margin. Ascend S slopes to col and follow E Ridge to the summit.
*A longer, non-technical day. According to current information available this peak has only been climbed twice, once in 1954 and the second time at the 1996 GMC.


Peaks to the North of the Icefall Brook GMC
Ψ Christian Peak(5), 3390m/ 11,009’) UTM – 933545
FA – S Ridge - 1926 - (AJ Ostenheimer, MM Strumia, JM Thorington, E Feuz Jr)

Traverse N and E along W face of Continental Divide. Gain elevation whenever easily done and eventually cross over the Divide onto the E Lyell Glacier. Head N along the glacier until the S ridge of Christian Peak is reached. Follow steep snow up to S ridge and then follow ridge to a very tiny summit.
* A longer day with some steep pitches of snow. The summit is spectacular and well worth the long approach. Recommended.*


Ψ     Walter Peak(4) – (3400m/ 11,096’) UTM – 930552
FA – S Ridge - 1927 - (D Duncan, T Lynes, J Simpson)
As per Christian until you have traveled up the E Lyell Glacier for some period. Continue N and then W and up to the Walter/Christian Col. Follow N ridge to the summit. The ridge has a rock step (5.4) and can be double corniced near the summit.
* This is the plum of the 5 Lyell Peaks. It is a long, difficult climb with a very rewarding summit ridge. Highly recommended if you are fit, experienced and have been out climbing a lot prior to the GMC*

Ψ     Ernest Peak(3) – (3511m/ 11,340’) UTM – 929560
FA – N Snow Slopes - 1926 - (AJ Ostenheimer, MM Strumia, JM Thorington, E Feuz Jr)
As per Christian until you have traveled up the E Lyell Glacier for some period. Continue N and up into the Ernest / Edward col. After reaching the col, circle N of Ernest, cross a troublesome bergschrund and ascend the steep N snow slopes.
* Longer day with some technical difficulties, can be done in conjunction with Edward and Rudolph if time permits *

Ψ     Edward Peak(2) – (3514m/ 11,350’) UTM – 935563
FA – W Ridge - 1902 (J Outram, C Kaufmann)
As per Christian until you have traveled up the E Lyell Glacier for some period. Head N along the E Lyell Glacier and up to the Ernest / Edward col. The W ridge is easily followed to the summit.
* Highest peak of the Lyell massif. Longer day but without technical difficulties. Can be done in conjunction with Rudolph and Ernest if time permits.

Ψ     Rudolph Peak(1) – (3507m/ 11,327’) UTM – 939567
FA – N Snow Slopes - 1926 - (AJ Ostenheimer, MM Strumia, JM Thorington, E Feuz Jr)
As per Christian until you have traveled up the E Lyell Glacier for some period. Head N along the E Lyell Glacier and up to the Edward / Rudolph col. The S ridge is then followed to the summit.
*Longer day but without technical difficulties. Can be done in conjunction with Rudolph and Ernest if time permits.

As well as producing spectacular vistas, the camp location will allow easier access to the peaks of the area including the five Lyells, all over 11000’, Mons Peak (10114’), St Julienne (10,236’), Lens Mt. (10360’), La Clytte (9509’), East and West Division Mts. (9940’) and Mt. Kennel (10200’). A high camp will be located near Mt. Forbes (11,852’) in order to facilitate access to this inspiring mountain.