Mt. Resplendent - NW Slopes II
Date climbed: June 20, 2016
Mt. Resplendent from Col
Authors Note: With over 2,000m of ascent from the parking lot this is a big mountain from the trailhead. A recommended peak if you are looking for spectacular views and a challenging ascent despite the low grade. A great intro peak to the Robson area with a good level of glacier navigation challenges if done via the Berg Lake trail. A fantastic multi-night trip in a spectacular location.
Getting There: From Calgary, drive to Jasper and take a left (west) on the YellowHead Highway. Mt. Robson will be listed on the highway signs. Once at the visitor centre (worth a stop in to check any climbing logs, weather, etc...), keep going up the road to the Berg Lake trail head. Usually pretty busy so park wherever possible (drive around once to see if anything is free on the other side).
Approaches: There are 2 main approaches for Resplendent now, with the second being new as of 2014.
- Berg Lake Trail to Extinguisher Tower
Recommended if it's your first time in the area and you want the full experience. Follow the Berg Lake trail to Berg lake and beyond, taking a rightward turn towards the Robson glacier. At a sign that reads "Glacier travel is extremely dangerous", hike beyond aiming for the toe of the Robson glacier. As many tourists head here, you should be on a decent trail. Strap on the crampons and glacier gear (most people don't rope up on the lower glacier due to open crevasses with no bridging. You decide what your comfort level is though). On the glacier itself, follow a dirty rocky path straight up the middle, taking care to not fall in anything. Extinguisher tower will be obvious up and to your left. Near the headwall below the Tower, decent the glacier steeply to solid ground and moraines. Ascent the Moraine (path to be found on it's crest), and follow to the Extinguisher Tower bivy sites. Gain approx. 1,300 meters in 32km of hiking from the Berg Lake Trailhead/Parking lot.
- Robson-Resplendent Col via the Patterson Spur ...click for full description
Recommended if you're simply looking at the Summit and nothing else. Very direct from the parking lot, and can be done car to car in 2 days or very comfortably in 3. Follow the full approach description as listed in the link above (coming soon).
The Climb: As climbing Resplendent can be done from both Extinguisher Tower, or the Resplendent-Robson Col, I've outlined both climbs below. The upper slopes are angled towards the south necessitating a sloped traverse that could be spicy if icy. We had bucket step snow, and had to be aware of possible avalanche risk. Consider your climbing conditions when ascending.
- From Extinguisher Tower (6-8hrs return)
Gain the glacier directly above the bivy sites and aim for the new moraines that are starting to appear on your right. Follow it like a handrail staying on it's left side to avoid the larger crevasses on it's other side. Keep on this handrail until the flatter glacier is reached above, aiming for serac walls just left of the Mouse Trap ramp, keeping left of a convex roll filled with crevasses. Traverse under the serac wall aiming for the ramp leading to the upper flats beyond the Mouse Trap on your right. The crevasses are very, very large here, and many big bridges will need to be nervously crossed. Keep the rope tight, and your head on straight. This is no place to screw around.
Once above the ramp and on the flats in the Robson cirque, ascent the steeper slopes on your left, taking care of a few perpendicular crevasses along the way (some of which fatal falls have occurred). Follow the NW slopes easily to it's summit. Return the same way.
- From Resplendent-Robson Col (3-4hrs return)
From the ridge itself, you are in a pretty easy position to summit Mt. Resplendent. Crevasse risk will be minimal, and thus a later start can be a comfortable option. From a camp at the ridge, simply gain the upper slopes, and aim for the summit. It's really as easy as that. It it weren't for the long and steep 4th class scramble done on your approach, Resplendent from here would be a grade lower. Return the same way.
Gear required: Rope for glacier travel (30-40m fine if in from the Col, 60m for proper glacier rescue if from Extinguisher), glacier rescue gear (a must if coming in from Extinguisher Tower), a mountaineering axe, and perhaps a couple ice screws if the upper slopes are bare ice (July-September).