We woke up at 6am in the morning, and it was snowing outside. Maybe the world did end... However, we could see the outline of Crowfoot Mountain so the visibility wasn't too bad. At this point I was still optimistic about our primary objective, Mount Olive. Long story short, after breakfast, we left the Hut at 7:20. With headlamps on, we started marching up the headwall. It was dark, snowy, but not windy. After what seemed like a long time, it started to get brighter, but there was no sign of improvement on the weather. Our confidence level got lower and lower, and eventually our group members started to bail out one by one, and eventually it was only Kevin and I marching up the glacier. It wasn't a total white-out and we could see St. Nicolas Peak.
While contouring around St. Nick, the weather was slightly getting better and better, and we decided to get up St. Nick/Olive col and then evaluate the condition (we already downgraded the objective to Vulture Peak). The upper slope wasn't snow covered and we had to take off skis and carry them up, and that was really awkward.. Thankfully this wasn't long. Looking up towards Olive, orange colours, then sunshine!! It was indeed getting better.
So we kept moving on Vulture Glacier, and 2min later, we finally could see Vulture Peak. It looked quite far away though. We went straight towards the peak over a small bump. This section was mainly down-hill and on since we were skiing, it took us no time to arrive at the base of the final slope. Looking up, this slope reminded me the final slog up Crowfoot Mountain, and up Canoe Mountain.. We could manage to ski all the way to the summit, and meanwhile, more and more blue colour started to show up, and then Mount Thompson, Olive, Balfour, Crowfoot, and eventually, Collie, Baker, and Hector! Wow, given the condition, we felt like steeling something!
It was windy and cold, and we didn't even bother to sign the register. After a few photos, we soon started down. We both had the concern that the weather would move in again. Slogging back up the St.Nick/Olive col was quite a slog. We had a brief discussion whether attempting Olive or not. Again, given the unpredictable weather we voted for no, and we were right. Once back at the col, the weather closed in again. We also couldn't figure out where we went up as the tracks were covered, but we had to get down anyway, so we took off the skins, and picked a direct line down the col. The rest of the way down was so fast, 5 times faster than snowshoeing.. Too bad the slope down the headwall wasn't all fresh powder (thanks to Vern, Kelly, Bill, and Wietse), and those ski tracks created some challenge to me. I fell 2 times due to the unexpected "bumps"... Falling on soft snow wasn't hurt anyway and it was pretty fun.
We still had a lot of time and after a long break we decided to ski out. The weather wasn't getting any better and visibility was pretty poor. We also had no track to follow, and thus the ski out was quite challenging. Lots of route-finding, uphills, side-sloping, avalanche slopes, unexpected rocks and boulder fields. I had no clue where this route goes and I was just following. We ended up too high and had to descend a steep gully. It was beyond my comfortable level and after skiing in, I wasn't brave enough to force a turn. Thanks Bill again for teaching me kick-turn, and it worked out perfectly. And then more route-finding, we were back at the canyon, and the rest of the way out was a pure slog, as nobody was using wax.
The drive back home wasn't fun at all compared to the awesome trip we just had. The temperature kept dropping and it was -21 after exiting the mountains, and it started to snow too. The forecast for the following few days was pretty cold too, so I drove back home.
Overall, awesome trip. I'm looking forward to the next ski ascent.