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N Couloir, Mt. Outram (III, WI3 50°, 800m), Glacier Lake, Banff NP

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  • N Couloir, Mt. Outram (III, WI3 50°, 800m), Glacier Lake, Banff NP

    Likely the best spot to post this up, from earlier this season (Sept. 2019) with Alik Berg. Mount Outram is easily seen from Sask. River crossing, approach via Glacier lake. Best route overview photo is found on p.200 of the Rockies West guidebook (bottom photo). Route follows the obvious couloir on snow, rock and ice to the W summit ridge, climbers right of the McCormick/Thomas route. Alik called it the "GCC lite", similar in length and climbing to the Grand Central Couloir, without the crux pitch (but with the cornice....). We approached as described in Rockies West p.195 (as for the McCormick/Thomas route), but would likely recommend approaching as for the N Glacier W ridge (also p.195). This might also be recommended to straighten out the McCormick/Thomas route.

    We descended the W ridge to the N glacier, where we were fortunate to easily enter the glacier (one rappel & snowy down climbing) and walk around the very broken glacier bits. From the summit, the E ridge descent looked like lots of exposed down climbing/rappelling, so although our descent was longer (in distance), I would take it again.

    P1050971.jpg The left hand side of the North face (N couloir out of view to the R) from our approach. The McCormick/Thomas route trends into the hanging snowfield from the LH ridge (lower East ridge). Obvious potential to start from the bottom of the face for future contenders. Should hardly add any difficulty, just a nicer line.

    P1050975.jpg Standing below the North face, we took the left slanting couloir.

    P1050986.jpg Alik working his way past some permanent snow features.

    P1050992.jpg Midway up

    P1060001.jpg Near the top.

    For those interested, I've attached the description from the 1988 CAJ & AAJ of the McCormick/Thomas route. Though McCormick's report made it seem like one trip, they went over two separate trips.

    Mount Outram North Face - "The Sewing Lesson"
    In between sewing lessons from the elderly female tourists at Saskatchewan River Crossing, I noticed a route on the North Face of Mount Outram. The following day Gil McCormick and I were up the game trail which leads on the north side of Mount Outram's long east ridge. The climb consisted of moderate ice climbing followed by five mixed pitches, the first being the hardest with steep thin ice. The route is direct, passing through the central snow patch. On top we soaked up some sun for the first time that day. Mount Forbes East face was the most inspiring view. Our descent fell down the east ridge. Grade IV, knifeblades, lost arrows, nuts, friends, 4 ice screws. Tom Thomas and Gil McCormick, September 4, 1987. CAJ 1988

    Mounts Outram and Erasmus, North Faces. Tom Thomas and I ascended the Glacier Lake Trail, fording the river just downstream from the lake. An excellent goat trail led us to timberline and we followed the main north ridge extending from the east shoulder of Mount Outram to Glacier Lake. We camped at 7800 feet below the main ice chute on the north face. The route ascended this 55° ice for 1000 feet to a rocky section. About five pitches of solid rock and ice up the leftmost of two main couloirs in the band brought us to the summit of Mount Outram on September 5. We descended the east ridge. By bushwhacking and following game trails from the Glacier Lake Trail, we made our way up the Valley of Lakes to below the north cirque of Mount Erasmus. We climbed the main couloir for 1000 feet to a rock chimney. Three pitches of rotten rock followed: 1. a rock chimney to a sloping rock in the gully; 2. a wall angling up and right; 3. a traverse back left and up the main chimney to the upper ice. There were 12 pitches of 50° to 70° ice to the summit of Mount Erasmus. We skirted left on the face near the summit and bivouacked in an ice cave just below the lip of the summit. An early morning start up an ice chimney popped us onto the summit snow slopes on September 13. An eight-hour descent via the west side and skirting back around to the north cirque brought us back to our camp. The grade V ascent took us 14 hours from camp to the bivouac and two hours from the cave to the summit.

    Gil McCormick*, Unaffiliated

    AAJ 1988
    Last edited by Mvanhaeren; 22-Nov-2019, 07:23 am.