MOUNT MONICA 3059m 10,037′
The dominant mountain on the north boundary of Monica Meadows, one of the easier 10,000 foot peaks in the West Kootenay to climb. It is an arduous climb, non-technical by one route.
1. Glacier and E snow slopes. Approach from the South. Big schrund and steep snow; not recommended for the inexperienced. Leads to the north just S of the summit;
2. SE Ridge. Approach via traverse over Mt Aten. Easy scrambling over solid broken rock and slabs with cracks, one fault in ridge being turned on right (exposed move, maybe class 4 this can be avoided by route 2), next, following ridge to obvious notch, descending 60 1 -70′, then finishing with an easy scrambling for the last 100′ to the summit.
3. Ramp to SE Ridge. An easy scree ramp below and to the L of the SE ridge, then ascending a gully to R and rejoining SE ridge (the easiest route) SE Ridge.
4. NE slopes. From Starbird Pass, ascend NE snow slopes to a glacier E of Monica; then follow route #1 above. It’s about 2.5 hrs. from Starbird Pass to the summit and is a mountaineering, not a hiking, route. This is the first ascent route of 1911 by Hamden and party and the route used by our 1977 party.
5. SW Face. Bushwhack up a creek draining SW from Starbird Pass. The 1977 party approached this way, a route that’s not remembered fondly by those who were there.
APPROACHES and ROUTES by Kim Kratky
As the Monica Meadows area becomes increasingly popular, more people are looking for ways to reach its surrounding peaks. With this goal in mind, I’ve prepared a friendly how-to guide for you to get to the top of the easiest-to-climb 10,000′ peak in the West Kootenay.
The information provided is based on a climb of Monica done by Mike Hryniuk and me on Sept. 26, 1993 and on a considerably less pleasant KMC trip of July 17, 1977 led by Ken Holmes. Implements needed: a reasonably strong constitution; an ice axe; a 9mm rope (maybe, depends on the route); “real” boots, not Hi-Tecs; the usual gear needed to enjoy alpine weather in the Kootenay.
From the South
Follow the Monica Meadows trail to a point where it becomes a “route” traversing to the right. From here, don’t take the Meadows “trail”, but travel straight up, following a faint trail and flagging tape. You will top out on a long N-S ridge with a few larches. Continue N and NE over open country, making for the prominent SSE ridge of Aten (the twin snow domes at co-ordinates 231-859 on map 82K/7). Head E and N around the base of this ridge, entering a large gully that leads NW to the snow col between the two domes of Aten). It’s best to ascend this gully by grassy ramps diagonally right; at the top of these grassy ramps, diagonal back L into the big gully and head up to the 9700 col. Alternately, ascend solid, clean dihedrals to the R of the gully; eventually, you will be forced into it.
Once at the col, ascend 100′ of snow to the summit of Aten W (last 60′ is steep); as a variation, you may, according to M. Brewster, traverse around the SW and W side of Aten meadows below.
Next, descend N on the glacier from the summit of Aten to the Aten-Monica col. From this pass, you have three choices for Mt. Monica:
(1) glacier and E snow slopes (big ‘schrund and steep snow; not recommended for the inexperienced) leading to the north just S of the summit;
(2) an easy scree ramp below and to the L of the SE ridge, then ascending gully to R and rejoining SE ridge (the easiest route);
(3) SE ridge, easy scrambling over solid broken rock and slabs with cracks, one fault in ridge being turned on right (exposed move, maybe class 4 this can be avoided by route 2), next, following ridge to obvious notch, descending 60 1 -70′, then finishing with an easy scrambling for the last 100’ to the summit (5.5 hrs. up from car park; 4 hrs return).
I want to emphasize that if route #2 is followed, this is a totally non-technical, although reasonably strenuous, outing. One last note: do not try to descend directly to the meadows from the notch below the final summit; it won’t go. Have a good time.
From Starbird Pass
The least painless approach to the pass is N through open country from the top of Monica Meadows trail, leaving the trail at the point mentioned above and keeping just on the edge of treeline (3.5 hrs. to the pass from the car park). From the pass, ascend NE snow slopes to a glacier E of Monica; then follow route #1 above. It’s about 2.5 hrs. from Starbird Pass to the summit and is a mountaineering, not a hiking, route. This is the first ascent route of 1911 by Hamden and party and the route used by our 1977 party.
The 1977 party approached via a bushwhack up a creek draining SW from Starbird Pass, a route that’s not remembered fondly by those who were there. NB: Aten (9,800′) was first climbed in 1928 by a party led by E. Feuz and including one of Fred’s favorite people, Miss Katie Gardiner.
MT MONICA – WEST RIDGE & TRAVERSE by Hamish Mutch
The traverse of Mt. Monica deserves to become popularThis is the rock ridge on the left side of Mt. Monica, which is so prominent from the MacBeth area. At the top of the Monica Meadows trail, hike north to the base of the west ridge. Stay close to the crest of the first step, climb the second step to the left, and you’re there. Well, almost– finish with a little ridge walk. I intended to descend the southeast ridge (see Karabiner ’93, p.16), using the Brewster Ledges shortcut, which avoids climbing up and over the so-called “Mt. Aten.” I missed this by being lazy and starting across too low, and eventually traversed the entire west face by a series of rocky ribs and grassy ledges, reminiscent of Lliwedd or Pavey Ark. A pleasant and nostalgic trip.
Hi-Tecs in the fall. Boots and axe in season. 10 hrs. return. A good day trip.
MONICA GLACIER-NORTH BUTTRESS by Steven Horvath
On June 30 Hamish Mutch and I walked into Monica Meadows, or – more accurately – we did our annual beast of burden impersonation [aka light climbing packs]. It was hot, humid and mosquitoes had a field day.
Next day we walked to Starbird Pass and up the Monica Glacier to North Buttress of Mt. Monica and were able to climb a new route up the Buttress. It went all the way up to the summit on steep quartzite. Rock was solid where it was vertical and fairly dirty/ messy where it was not so steep, thus we kept roped up. The route went at 12 [60 m rope] pitches of class 4 to middle class 5.
The descent was longer and scarier than expected. We were expecting to be down fairly quickly, however, the snow – it was by then a late afternoon on a rather hot summer day – was isothermal, steep and scary.
All in all it was a long 15-hour day.
PS: The summit register showed about one ascent every two years. Hamish and I have by now climbed Monica via 4 different routes [2 of them new routes] and don’t have to go back, however, it seems a worthwhile objective for a KMC trip. It might be a good idea to fly our flag in territory coveted by U. Oberti [he of Mumbo Jumbo “fame”], so to speak.