Overseer Mountain - Southeast Slope, August 2009
Eli and I had time for one more Coast Range climb before making good on our already twice-revised plans and high-tailing it east for objectives in the Canadian Rockies. Sticking with a theme that had treated us well up until now, we narrowed our choices to a handful of selections from the Scrambles Guide. With the vast expanse of snow and ice surrounding the peak, I had always wanted to climb Overseer Mountain, preferably as a spring ski tour. However, approach and access considerations aside, the peak was just too far out of sight and mind to register on most of my Seattleite friends' radar. Hiking down from our Cirque Peak camp at mid-morning on a smoky Wednesday in August, it occurred to me that there was probably no better time than the present to go for Overseer. We had the time, favorable weather conditions, and were in the general area to boot. I could always come back in the spring sometime if I cared enough to 'board down it. Eli was of a similar opinion and so without further discussion we set our sights on the highest peak in the Pemberton Icefield.
So, what's the appeal? Save for perhaps the final summit tower, there isn't much in the way of 'climbing' to be had on Overseer's Southeast Face. Aside from an endlessly boring walk along a mostly flat glacier, the peak is really just a chosspile of epic proportions. Yes, there's a 4-pitch 5.8 rock climb on the peak's Southwest Face but that wasn't why we came. Looking up towards where we surmised the rock route starts I can say that there's an awful lot of loose and steep gully action just to get there in the first place. Given the length and arduousness of the approach to the Harrison Hut and beyond, not to mention the undeniably remote feel of the place, the idea of sketching up some vague and seldom climbed route on rock of dubious quality just wasn't calling us. Truth be told, all that's really required here is a fair amount of stamina, good route finding ability, and a passion for the path less trodden. Leave the gear behind and instead lose yourself in the isolation and grandeur of seemingly endless icescapes that harkens back to the Pleistocene. The reward is arguably one of North America's finest summit vistas within weekend range of a major metropolitan area. The cost? A brutal approach, a couple thigh-deep creek fords, and long, tedious battles with scree and talus. Is it worth it? Absolutely! (more...)
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