EMPEROR PEAK 3120m 10,250′
ARCHDUKE MOUNTAIN 3150m 10,350′
“We’ll do it differently this time,” said Ian. “There won’t be any rain.” These remarks or something like them, passed among Ian Hamilton, Bert Port and me as we sat in the Mariner Inn in Kaslo on the eve of Friday, Sept. 11th. For our goals, Archduke and Emperor some 5 miles west of Truce Mt., had been bathed in murk and rain on several of our previous visits this year, most notably on July 5th when we reached the 8,900′ level on Emperor before being turned back by a shower which lasted four days. Well fortified, we motored on that Friday night in Bert’s “Scout”, travelling up Glacier Creek road about 5 miles to the turnoff for Deep Creek, a north flowing tributary.
This “track”, which ascends 2,000′ in about 3 miles, has one of the worst surfaces imaginable, thanks to some diligent work on the part of a fiendish “Cat” operator. Nevertheless, by 10:30 we were peacefully snoozing in Ian’s MacKinley near the end of the “road” at 6,600′.
Saturday we were away at 6:30, tramping up a picturesque valley to the northeast. Above and to our right loomed the shattered claws of Fingerboard Pk., flanked by our goal, the west face of Emperor. To reach the rock, we had first to ascend a frozen tongue of snow, an easy feat with crampons. Once onto the rock, we enjoyed 1,500′ of high quality scrambling on grassy ledges, smashed ribs, and rotten gullies of the steep face. (Howie had predicted two months before that this route would go).
At 11:45 we reached the summit of Emperor (10,200′) after scrambling the last 15 minutes on the southwest ridge. Time for lunch, a survey of the scene, and an opportunity for me to hit Ian in the head with my ice axe. “Very good gentlemen”, Ian replied imperturbably, “shall we carry on to Archduke?”
An easy descent and a 25 minute plod across a col above a dizzingly-steep north glacier got us to our next goal. This 10,350′ summit gave us fine views of Howser Spires, Truce and Cauldron, and the Macbeth Icefield on a gloriously sunny day. Of course there was nothing for it but to continue to the slightly lower south summit of Archduke, an easy task. Retracing our steps to Emperor, we descended unroped from that peak in 2 ½ hours. As the late afternoon shone, each of us lounged by a glistening creek in the alpine meadow above our camp. Sunk in exhaustion after an 11½ hour day, we all savoured that moment.