COMMANDER GROUP

This group includes the peaks which encircle the Lake of the Hanging Glaciers on the E, S, and W. Most of them can be climbed in one day from a camp placed at the N end of the lake although several are more conveniently reached from Farnham Creek. The group is bounded on the E by Farnham Creek, on the S by Jumbo Creek, on the W by the terminal forks of Glacier Creek, and on the N by the main stem of Horsethief Creek.

The Lake of the Hanging Glaciers is one of the most spec­tacular features in the Interior Ranges. The southern portion of the two-mile length of the lake is covered by a glacier main­tained by avalanches from hanging glaciers on the cliffs to the south. The ice front is approximately 100 feet in height; bergs calve frequently. The lake was discovered shortly after 1900 by Thomas Starbird, the first settler in the Horsethief Valley. In 1911 he visited the lake with his wife and a group of tourists and guides. During the 1920’s frequent parties of tourists were taken to the lake, but nowadays it is seldom visited by any but climbers.

Starbird Glacier, the source of Horsethief Creek, is the most extensive in the region. Of more importance to climbers, how­ever, are the other major glaciers, Commander Glacier, the chief source of Farnham Creek, and the Jumbo Neve and glaciers which feed the Lake of the Hanging Glaciers. These two systems are joined by a glacial saddle (10600) immediately S of Commander Mountain. All the glaciers in the area have retreated markedly from their positions in the early 1900’s when they were first visited. However, measurements of the Commander Glacier show that it advanced 800′ between 1954 and 1960. In recent years, it, too, has been retreating again.

ACCESS (1976). The good road extending W from Radium up the valley ofHorsethief Creek provides the principal access to this group, as well as to the Farnham Group to the E. The road terminates about 2 mi beyond the confluence of Farnham Creek as the result of a massive washout. A trail continues 3½ mi up the valley, fording Hellroar Creek and then Horsethief Creek (difficult on foot) shortly below the junction of the outlet stream from Lake of the Hanging Glaciers. Here was located “Thunder Camp,” the 1928 ACC summer camp. A short dis­tance upstream, Horsethief Creek is crossed on a log bridge (useable in 1976) or by a difficult and dangerous ford. Once across, work back downstream (trail indistinct in swamps), crossing the several channels of the outlet stream to pick up the horse trail again. This good trail winds steeply (26 switchbacks) up the E bank of the outlet stream to meadows at timberline (7000) at the foot of the lake, about 6 mi and 2400′ elevation gain from the end of the road (4 hr). Peaks on the rim of Commander Glacier are more readily climbed from a camp near the forks of Farnham Creek (see Farnham Group), while the isolated Egyptian Peaks in the SW part of the group are best approached by way of the road on Jumbo Creek.

To reach the Jumbo snowfield from Lake of the Hanging Glaciers, circle the lake on the E and ascend rocks to bench glacier 1000′ above lake. Traverse S into basin below Commander-Maye col, thus bypassing the lower icefall. As­cend the middle icefall, working from left to right, and then climb the more°difficult and dangerous final icefall to the neve (slopes up to 50°). About 5 hr, depending greatly on conditions.

Loose rocks fall from Commander Mt upon occasion. Although glacial recession has made this route considerably more difficult since it was first descended in 1928 by Cromwell, Hillhouse and Thorington, with Conrad Kain, its use much enhances the interest of ascents of Jumbo and Kar­nak, which are dull plods when approached over Commander Glacier. The most straightforward, if not technically the easiest way to go from Lake of the Hanging Glaciers to Farnham Creek, and vice-versa, is to cross the Commander-Maye sad­dle; about 7 hr in either direction.
Map: 82K/7E.

UNNAMED B   3002m   9850′
Double summit at N end of divide between Lake of the Hanging Glaciers and Farnham Creek.
From Lake of the Hanging Glaciers, follow up prominent valley to NE to col (9500) between objective and Granite Peak (3½ hr) and reach summit along S ridge in¼ hr more 

FRA A. Maki, R. C. West, 8/1960

GRANITE PEAK   3094m   10150′
Immediately E of N end of Lake of the Hanging Glaciers.
1. Contour E side of Lake to first meadow and then scramble the conspicuous gully leading to the saddle between objective and Mt Maye. Take S ridge to top.
FA Jul 1928, ACC party.
2. NE Ridge. Aug 1960, A. Maki, R. C. Reach col N of peak as for Unnamed B (which see) and then climb straight­ forwardly to summit, 1 hr from col.

3. NW Ridge. From Lake of the Hanging Glaciers, scramble W slopes to gain ridge which is followed to top.
R. Carter, Christian, G. Kamm, R. Varnam, 7/1971

MT MAYE   3246m   10650′
1½ mi N of Commander Mtn; E of head of Lake of the Hanging Glaciers.
1. As in Route 1 for Granite Peak to col between latter and objective (2½ hr). Ascend N glacier under NW ridge, making a long traverse E to avoid a prominent gendarme. Ascent 4½h.
Variations are possible on the N glacier.
FA M. Cassels, J. Corry, A. Galloway, A. A. McCoubrey, D. McGeary, A. Rolph,E. Feuz,Jr., W. Feuz, 7/1928
2. S Ridge. FA party, on descent to Farnham Creek via Maye-Commander col (see Commander Rte 1). Traverse in reverse direction has also been done. Dreadful rock.

UNNAMED A  3063m 10050)
Subsidiary summit of Mt Maye one mi NE.
From summit of Mt Maye via its N glacier and SW ridge of objective in ½ hr(CAJ 44-36).
FA D. Anger, R. C. West, 8/1960
The four peaks above have been traversed in various combi­nations and directions in going from Farnham Creek to Lake of the Hanging Glaciers and vice-versa, most often by gaining the N glacier of Mt Maye from one side or the other.

COMMANDER MOUNTAIN   3362m   11030′
Principal peak on divide between Lake of the Hanging Glaciers and Farnham Creek.
From forks of Farnham Creek, follow the N lateral moraine toward Commander-Maye saddle where steep cliffs are climbed to the col (this approach has become increasingly troublesome as recession of the glacier exposes ever more steep, polished slabs). Follow the N ridge until it abuts a tower which forces a traverse onto the W face some 300′ below the ridge. Regain the crest by means of chimneys and gullies. Pass a second tower on the E, ascend a steep snow crest and continue to the summit along the sharp, nearly level final ridge. 3 hr from col, 7 hr total. A good route.
FA H.0. Frind, A. H. & E. L. MacCarthy, B. Shultz, M. & W. E. Stone, C. Kain, 8/1915
Variant(now the normal approach). From Lake of the Hanging Glaciers, ascend near water­ fall in cliffs of Mt Maye to bench glacier 1000′ above lake (rockfall). Cross glacier and climb steep, boulder-filled couloir to Commander-Maye saddle (4 hr), thereafter following Route 1

E. Cromwell, C. Kain, 7/1928
2. S Ridge. Easy rock and snow; 1 hr from Commander-Guardsmen col.

Traverses in both directions are common
MacCarthy party(above) on descent. Ascent: Jul 1928, M. B. Byles, K. Gardiner, W. Feuz

THE GUARDSMEN
Three minor peaks between the Cleaver and Jumbo Mtn.
W Peak 3277m 10750′
A short easy climb from upper Commander Glacier.
FA C. D. Ellis, E.W. Harnden, W. C. Phelps(?), 7/1913
Center Peak 3246m 10650′

E Peak 3216m 10550′
E-W Traverse, con­tinuing over W Peak.
FA R. C. West and party.

THE CLEAVER 3255m 10680′
Prominent wedge-shaped peak at head of E lobe of Com­mander Glacier.
1. N Approach. Route no longer practicable because of glacial recession. N Approach. Aug 1954, R. West and party. The normal route. From forks of Farnham Creek, head S and scramble up the N-trending rock rib which separates the E lobe from the main Commander Glacier. Cross upper snow plateau and reach the summit by easy NW slopes. Ascent 5 hr; descent 3 hr.

FA C. Best, A. F. Shippam, C. Kain. 9/1922
2. Traverse.The SE ridge, reached from either the head of Farnham Creek or the N lateral branch of Jumbo Creek, is taken to the top in 5 hr. Descend NW (Route 1) to Commander Glacier. 

Cromwell, J. G. Hillhouse, J. M. Thorington, C. Kain. 7/1928

JUMBO MT    3399m   11150′
Second elevation of Purcell Range and long thought to be its highest summit; between Lake of Hanging Glaciers and Jumbo Creek.
1. NE Face. Reach the Jumbo Neve either from Farnham Creek over Commander Glacier or from Lake of the Hanging Glaciers by way of icefall just NW of Commander Mtn (see introduction), then ascend easy snow slopes to summit. Ascent 6 hr
FA MacCarthy party (see Commander). 8/1915
2. W Ridge. From Jumho-Karnak col, ascend the rock of the W ridge throughout. 3 hr col to summit.

F. Coffey, R. Pastor, A. Larson. 8/1974
Winter Ascent. From Farnham Creek on showshoes in 4½ hr!

C. Kain (alone), 3/1919

MT KARNAK   3399m   11150′
W summit of Jumbo massif; third elevation of Purcell Range.
1. From camp (5600) near head of Jumbo Creek, directly W of objective, ascend through trees and then over sliding shale of SW slopes to foot of final tower. Skirt this on S to a snow saddle just below the top. Ascent 5½ hr 
FA A. H. & E. L. MacCarthy, M. & W. E. Stone, C Kain8/1916
2. W Face. From Jumbo Creek initially as in Route 1, moving left (N) to foot of great slabby face. Climb more or less up the centre of the face, avoiding a rotten gully to the right. Near the top of the slabs, surmount an F4 pitch to gain the final ridge, several F3 pitches leading thence to the summit. Ascent 6 hr

R. Bandfield, R. Cuthbert, B. Hagen, 7/1975
3. NE Face. The normal route. Gain the Jumbo Neve from either Lake of the Hanging Glaciers or Farnham Creek (see introduction). Cross to foot of peak and ascend snow slopes, then a few hundred feet of mod­erately difficult rock, to the summit. RT from Lake of the Hanging Glaciers, 12 hr.

A. Maki, M. West, 8/1960
Traverses of Jumbo and Karnak have recently become popu­lar; ACC parties. Either W-E or E-W, about 12 hr RT from camp on Farnham Creek 5/1971.

THE LIEUTENANTS 
Massif forming the SW retaining wall of the Lake of the Hanging Glaciers.
W Peak (First Lieutenant)  3216m  10550′
1. From camp near outlet of lake, gain ridge along W border of lake, S of Glacier Dome. Traverse intervening bumps to foot of NW ridge of objective. Exposed climbing on steep, loose rock for the last 500′. Ascent 8½ hr.
FA D. Anger, A. Maki, M. West, 8/1960
2. E Face. Circle Lake of the Hanging Glaciers on the E and cross flat part of glacier to steepening slope NE of summit. Ascend a gully (with large talus fan) to top of lower cliffs which support an extensive snow/ice slope. Crampon diagonally left to narrow rock rib dividing lower snow slope from a smaller higher one to left (SE). Ascend upper slope directly to final wall (1000′ of lime­ stone), which is climbed (F4) to NW ridge near summit. Good natural belays but otherwise poor protection possibilities. 5 hr from S end of lake. Interesting climb.

F. Beckey, J. Rupley, 8/1971
Center Peak (Second Lieutenant) 3216m 10550′

Along ridge connecting to W Peak in ½ hr.
FA D. Anger, A. Maki, 8/1960
E Peak (Sergeant) 3185m 10450′

Ascend icefall above Lake of the Hanging Glaciers (just below Commander Mtn) to Jumbo Neve and then follow E ridge. 13 hr RT from camp near Lake outlet.
FA M. A. Broman, W. L. Putnam, A. Wexler, 8/1970

GLACIER DOME (Starbird) 3000m 9841′
Snow peak immediately W of Lake of the Hanging Glaciers. 
1. Ascend grassy ledges W of lake, traversing S along top of bluffs to reach a small glacier. Con­tinue working S below cliff bands, past the main peak, and ascend snow to ridge several hundred yards S of summit. Fol­low S ridge easily to top. Ascent 4 hr.
FA ACC party, 7/1928
2. W Approach. Jul 1928, ACC party. Many variations possi­ble on glacier to W of peak.

3. N Approach. From top of first bluff above lake, head directly up to sharp NE ridge which is followed until it is necessary to descend to glacier on N slope. Ascend this to summit.
A. Maki, R. C. West, 8/1960

MT ATEN 3002m 9850′
Twin snow domes immediately S of Mt Monica.
1. From head of Horsethief Creek.
FA J. Corry, K. Gardiner, P. Prescott, H. P. Thomson, W. Feuz. 7/1928
2. Traverse W-E.

A. Maki, R. C. West, 8/1960

MT MONICA 3059m 10037′
Directly W of the head of Horsethief Creek; S buttress of Starbird Pass (8000)
1. From head of Horsethief valley, cross Starbird Glacier in general direction of Starbird Pass, working up to NE snow/ice slope, which rises steeply to summit rocks. Ascent 7 hr 
FA M. Coffin, E.W. Harnden, J. Poorman, 8/1911
2. SE Ridge. Ascend Starbird Glacier from Horsethief valley, taking its left (S) branch to col S of objective, then climb tilted strata of ridge to top.

A. Maki, R. C. West, 8/1960

EGYPTIAN PEAKS 
A group of serrated peaks in the 9000′ class along the ridge extending N from Jumbo Pass to S margin of S branch of Star­bird Neve; between Jumbo Creek and terminal forks of Glacier Creek. Firm, high-angled granite on E side; exceedingly steep quartzite on W. Approach from old logging camp (5500) at end of Jumbo Creek road. Enjoyable climbs of moderate difficulty.
FA of all routes described (S to N) below: J. Jeglum, C. Wagner, 7/1973

MT ISIS    2819m   9250′
Directly W of Mt Karnak across Jumbo Creek
Ascend over small E glacier and up face to notch (8500) in S ridge about ½ mi S of summit. Shortly beyond notch, drop 100′ down couloir on E to avoid vertical step, returning to ridge by a chimney out of couloir. Continue along jagged crest (F3 & 4) to top. 2 hr from notch; 6 hr from camp.

MT STORUS   2789m   9150′
½ mi N of Mt Isis.
From Mt Isis via intervening ridge in 1½ hr. Final 100′ step bypassed by descending couloir and traversing onto E face where three exposed pitches (F3) lead to the summit. Descend E face to E glacier and camp in 4½ hr.

MT AMEN-RA   2911m   9550′
Highest and most spectacular of Egyptian Peaks.
From Jumbo Creek, ascend to glacier lying E of objective and peaks to N. Climb diagonally up to col (8900) N of peak (6 hr), then ascend good rock of N ridge (F2 & 3), reaching top in 1 hr more.

MT ATMU   2819m   9250′ 
Immediately N of Mt Amen-Ra.
Traverse from Mt Amen-Ra in 1 hr.

MT OSIRIS   2880   9450′
Nmost of Egyptian Peaks; on S margin of Starbird Neve.

About admin

I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am “home”, are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking.
I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.

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