September 10 – 13, 2020
~ submitted by Greg Deabler
John Young led the August rendition of the Augerpoint traverse, but as there were so many people interested, Greg Deabler, a very experienced mountaineer and fairly new Rambler member, was recruited to put on another trip in September. After cancellations and injuries, the group was down to six, but what a fine mix of six were we!
At 9:00 am, we met and awkwardly acknowledged each other at a COVID appropriate distance at the Raven Lodge parking lot. Jes commented that there were a lot less cars in the parking lot then a few weeks ago, when cars were parked all the way down the road. We headed up the trail towards Circlet Lake (bit shorter than the Battleship way) as conditions had been dry and the trail likely wouldn’t be too muddy. With some breaks along the way we were soon halfway up the ridge where John Y and his crew had camped. The debate was on – could we find water on the Jutland ridge outside the core area or do we camp here? As we wanted to climb Jutland that afternoon, and with the promise from Jes to run back down to fetch water if needed, we were off. Once on the ridge, tarns were spotted, packs dropped, and we were on our way to Jutland. Bill stayed at camp to guard our food and gear. It was an easy jaunt up to Jutland.
It was a warm lovely evening back at camp with a glorious sunset, in part due to smoke creeping north from the USA. Even the bugs left us alone. And the stars were spectacular.
We woke to a warm morning and dry tents! By 8:30 we were moving up the ridge towards Albert Edward with a brief photo stop at the Jutland directional cairn.
There was no snow on the AE ridge. We left our packs just as the slope increased near the top. Summit No 2, but we forgot to indicate it with our fingers for the photo! Oh well. Some smoke was spotted to the far south east.
So far, we hadn’t seen anyone that day. Heading down off AE, we soon spotted Ralph lake way down in the valley and Ruth Masters Lake nestled in a hanging valley.
There were tarns along the way for water. Down to the col to a swampy “tarn” we went, where we headed up to Ruth Masters lake. It is a spectacular spot to camp, and we were soon in the water. The satellite tarns might have been warmer. It was cooler than the previous evening as the camp loses the sun early. A father and daughter team arrived and told us they had mistakenly thought Ralph Lake was Ruth Masters Lake and they had headed down for what sounded like quite a ways before realizing they were not where they should be. The evening air was quite still making for a beautiful reflection of George V in the lake.
To throw a wrench into the plan, a couple of us approached Greg wondering if we could throw Syd Watts into the mix. With some trepidation, Greg agreed.
With our safety plan in place, Jes and I were on our way at 7:30 Saturday morning and the rest of the crew left at 8:00. We left our packs on the col and had a fun hike up to Augerpoint. The register was in good condition inside the Rubbermaid container. We met the rest of the crew on the col as they were getting ready to head up. Next objective was Syd Watts. We bypassed Peak 1760, west of Augerpoint Mountain, crossed the scree slope, left our packs, and we were at the top. From the summit, we could see the guys sitting on the high bluff above the Augerpoint col. It was getting smokier. The register was soaking wet.
We didn’t waste any time while returning to our packs and we headed directly up the high bluff to rejoin the main trail. Jes did a quick 5-minute run up Minor peak and then we caught up to the guys at the tarns in the saddle to enjoy our lunch and coffee.
Back on the trail, we stopped at the turn off for Jack’s Fell. There were no tarns there and it was pretty toasty, so we kept moving down, crossing the dry creek and continuing on to our camp just before the trail heads down to Buttle Lake. It was a beautiful campsite loaded with blueberries and a spectacular swimming tarn. The smoke was settling into the valley obscuring any view of Buttle Lake. With some unfinished business ie Jack’s Fell, Jes and I discussed with Greg the morning departure time to catch the bus. Thinking it might be too rushed in the morning, we headed out at 4:15 and in 45 minutes we were on Jack’s Fell and back for supper in good time.
Back at camp the guys had set up an amazing bear line for our food that night. Two women hiked in from Buttle Lake with their beasties and camped nearby.
The morning was foggy and smoky and at one point we could only see a few feet in front of us. Early in the morning, there had been a few sprinkles of rain. Good thing we went up Jack’s Fell the night before.
We were ready to go at 9:15. Our fellow campers warned us there was a wasp nest about 10 minutes down the trail and sadly, Greg took one sting for the team -Ouch! We made it down to the road in 2 hours and 15 minutes and contently waited for our ride back to the Raven Lodge.
It is interesting to see the discrepancies in the GPS data from different devices when we were on the same route. Compounding the problem, Jes and I did a little extra on day 3.
So, Ross’s GPS had 42.5km with 2,661m of climbing and mine had 47.6km with 3,847m of climbing. Either way, it was a great trip but a bit more sweaty on option 2!