Mt Sir Sandford
At 3519m, Mt Sir Sandford is the highest peak in the Selkirks Mountains of British Colombia.

It used to be an extremely remote area and its first ascent in 1912 was the outcome of five years of efforts of bushwalking through unspoiled wilderness and mountaineering. For the following 35 years, this big mountain remained unclimbed. Today, it remains relatively rarely climbed.

We have been the first team up the mountain this summer, on the 100th anniversary of the first ascent. We followed the 'classic' North West Ridge route which is graded AD.

Guided by Matt and Zac, we travelled to the high camp on Sunday through the Haworth glacier, Pallisade Pass and Sir Sandford Glacier. The first difficulty was to locate where the equipment for the camp had been dropped a few weeks earlier.

As Len, Josée and Stan stayed to chill in the camp, Zac and I went up, putting steps in steep snow for the following morning, to the Ravelin Sandford col where we met with Matt who left earlier to explore the ridge. As the day unfolded, we had an awesome sunset and stunning views of Mt Sir Sandford.

The ascent in itself was a great 17 hours day...

We left camp shortly after 4am, going up the col to get on the rock ridge offering good short roped scramble and a pitch of climbing. Shortly after sunrise, we arrived below the Hour Glass, one of the crux of the route. A steep 50° snow slope above a big bergschrund. After 4 pitches we arrived on steep bare ice which required an additional 5 pitches. Shortly after, we reached the exposed summit ridge with big cornices on the left/south east and a big drop on the right/north west.

We summited at noon. As the summit was too small for all of us, Josée, Matt and myself went up first before Zac, Len and Stan.

Amazing views, 360° over the Rockies, the Selkirks South and the groups around Rogers Pass and the Kinabasket lake. We also had great views of Tsar Mountain (3417m) which I climbed during the 2011 GMC and Trident (3136m) which I climbed in the 2009 GMC.

It was soon time to go down. A long descent.... through a number of lowers. We went over the Hour Glass by belaying down the rock face above the Minaret before reaching the North West ridge again.

We were back at high camp around 7pm for a nice soup prepared by the group who would be summiting on the Tuesday. Shortly after, we were back on Sir Sandford Glacier, crossing the Palissade Pass around 9pm. Back at base camp at 10 30pm with a welcome dinner!

A fantastic day out.

Thanks to Matt, Zac, Josée, Len and Stan
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