(Photos also in this Flickr set.) After lots of waffling and a little pre-planning, we were agreed upon a target for our spring ski traverse: take 7 nights of food on the Drummond/Bonnet traverse with the aim of having some time to do a few summits.
Piling everything into Brad's golf, we left a duffle bag with extra clothes (and shoes! Florian's idea) at Castle Junction (in the hostel's woodshed) for the end and got suited up in the Mosquito Creek parking lot by about 11am. Such late starts would become a habit for the first few days, allowing us to dry out sleeping bags but also causing stress at the ends of the days.
The first day we toured up Mosquito Creek along good trails (it's quite popular) towards Molar Meadows and the up towards the pass which leads to Elk Lakes, our goal for the evening. We arrived quite late at the lakes, but had running water and decent camping. This was our worst megamid setup of the trip.
Starting an unfortunate trend for the first few days of the trip, we got up late and took a looong time to get on the skiis. We did dry out our sleeping bags, though. We toured down to the Pipestone river valley breaking out the repair kit for the only time on the trip to tighten one of the screws in my binding.
After a bit of a lunch stop, we got over the river and toured down the valley for a ways before contouring over into the creek draining the Drummond.
Chic Scott's "improbable climb" was indeed that -- but we gained the appropriate bench and found that we didn't have to traverse under the terrifying seracs (as we thought from the valley). As the light indicates, it is getting somewhat late at this point but we pushed on to gain the glacier.
A little bit of boot-packing avoided the heavy windcrust and the possibility of being over the glacier. It would have been nice to have ski-crampons here; unfortunately we only brought "real" crampons, which were never used.
The morning of Day 3 dawned like the others: cloudless, windless and warm. We again enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, dryed out the bags and checked out the maps to choose our objective for the day.
We decided to tour down the glacier a ways, dump the overnight gear in a snow-hole and climb Pipestone. We ended up with the consolation of the Pipestone as labelled on the map (instead of the "real" Pipestone) due to time constraints. Great view of our route ahead and the exit off the Drummond.
After getting back to our overnight gear, we had to skin up around some moraine crests to get to the correct exit (as scoped from fake-Pipestone). Some terror occured when Florian list one of his skiis, and we watched it zoom down the glacier fearing it was headed for valley bottom. Luckily, it stopped in amongst some moraines and Brad went and grabbed it.
We then suffered through the nast isothermal snow on the decent, found open water in the creekbed (Florian had spotted some from above) and we made camp, dinner and went to bed.
The next day was another big climb, this time onto the Triffid glacier. Another windless, cloudless and warm day meant lots of sweating. This time, some savage beasts had put an uptrack in (from valley bottom over the Triffid + Bonnet to nearly Johnson creek, it turned out).
A big notch in Lychnis' northwest ridge provided awesome views of the Ten Peaks and Mt. Temple. With no wind, we made the best kitchen ever right on the ridge at nearly 3000m. Awesome!
The morning of Day 5 was a bit of a shocker: the sun went away.
We toured along the Triffid, down the promised steep pass and had lunch amongst some hunk of what used to be the glacier. Touring onto the Bonnet in low visibility and increasing wind, we made a large megamid hole anticipating staying for a couple of nights. The plan was to climb some of the peaks on the Bonnet. We toured over to check out the ridge of South Bonnet, but extreme winds tried to blow us off, so we retreated to the Megamid.
The next day dawned with no improvement in the weather and lots more snow; we decided to get out of there, since our plans to climb were not going to happen. Luckily, we'd had a decent freeze, which is what was needed to get over the giant cornice of Baker Pass.
After a lot of fucking around in low visibility, we found a way over and got into a fun little creek which dropped us into the upper reaches of Johnson Creek.
As we descended, the snow became less and less supportive leading to our decision to camp at the intersection of Luellen Creek, giving us the opportunity to do the alternate exit if the weather co-operated.
We awoke to a cold, clear-looking morning; just the conditions we needed for the promised steep tree-humping ahead. Gaining the lake and our first glimpse of the headwall had us trying to find a "better" way up. We eventually faced the truth and headed into the steepest tree-bashing yet.
After gaining the bench behind Castle Mountain, we traversed Stewart Knob and followed Florian down to Rockbound Lake (he'd toured there recently with his family) and finally gained the fast, narrow trail out.
After grabbing our duffel and some beer, we released the dreadful deamons hiding in Brad's socks: