Over the past few years, the 11,000′ peaks in the Canadian Rockies have become somewhat of a prize for mountaineers, as only a handful of alpinists have successfully climbed the more than 50 mountains that qualify. Yamnuska’s summer programs now include some of these Canadian Rockies 11,000ers, including Mt. Temple, Mt. Hector and Mt. Joffre.
On July 22 at 7:30 am, four of us met up with Yamnuska guide James Blench to attempt Mt. Joffre, a straightforward mountaineering obejctive, but requiring logistics and a day long approach. We distributed gear, food and camping equipment between the four participants and headed to the Upper Kananaskis Lake to begin our trek into Aster Lake campground – almost 8 hours of steady bushwhacking, staggering up a headwall with our heavy packs, then navigating muddy trails to finally arrive at our destination. What a wonderful sense of accomplishment to set up camp on prime riverfront real estate and dig into a yummy meal of brie and cracker appetizers, spicy chili and rice entree and Toblerone chocolate dessert prepared by the Yam kitchen.
Although the inclement weather continued through the night, James cheerfully announced, “It’s a go” at 4:30 am so Deb Perret, Darren Johnson and I geared up and set out towards Joffre at dawn. We got a brief but beautiful glimpse of Joffre in the first light; alas, for the next 7 hours Joffre and the surrounding mountains played “peek-a-boo”, as mist, snow and fog rolled over us, so we agreed with James to call it a good day in the mountains and head back to camp. John Andresen was waiting for us, and we dived into our delicious dinner of cranberry goat cheese appetizers and coconut chicken curry with mango chutney – good quality food adds so much to a backcountry adventure – Thank you Brian and team in the Yamnuska kitchen!
On our last day, James Blench took Yamnuska guiding to an entirely new level when he served Deborah and I coffee in our tent, thereby earning the nickname “Sherpa James”, as is the sherpa custom of serving tea to client tents in the Himalayas. Although we did not summit Joffre, we did successfully navigate the scree and talus on the headwall and survive the intense bushwhacking on our way back to civilization.
Yamnuska made this trip incredibly easy for me, a client from the flatlands of Toronto, as all the logistics, meals, group gear and professional guide were in place upon my arrival. So other than taking responsibility for my overall fitness, and presenting my Visa card to pay for the trip, I was able to partake in a grand adventure with my fellow alpinists. Whether or not any of the Canadian Rockies 11,000ers are on your tick list, I highly recommend a trip with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures – you will not be disappointed!