Mount Matier 9100ft - NW Face Via Anniversary Glacier
September 8, 2007


Photos and story by Jason

Canada is so close and yet a world apart. Peaks litter the skyline and new opportunities to explore captivate. For me, being there was a unique experience.

Work ended early and my brother Josh and I drove north to meet Sky. Due to a misunderstanding he was an hour and a half late. Traffic made the next hour hopeless so after picking up Ryan (who I’d skied with once on a haphazard ski-failure of Constance), we stopped to eat. Two hours more and we were meeting the infamous Dan Helmstadter in Bellingham. This guys living his dream and my hats off to him!!! He loves to ski and so that’s what he does…every chance he gets.

The border crossing went smoothly, but not the drive. Once Past Whistler, we managed to get misplaced (I wasn’t driving, so you can’t blame it on a Hummel). Not long after we were back on track with help from a gas station attendant.

That night we slept next to the road and in the morning we awoke to frost, temps having dropped to the mid-20’s and an annoying driver who honked his horn. I guess in Canada you get a wake up call if you are a climber?

 

 

The climb up the Anniversary Glacier was easy with no major difficulties. Harmonic collapses of the glacier did provide fear for Josh and I halfway up, but it was harmless. I’d had this happen before. Even so, it wasn’t much reassurance.

Two thousand feet up at the Joffre-Matier Col we circled toward our route which lies above the Matier Glacier. The NW Face (our objective) was intimidating, guarded by a schrund and dark shadows. These were just beginning to be chased away.

Trying to avoid going up, I drank some water and ate.







Sky and Dan climbing up the face. Photo: Ryan L.


Jason climbing up the face. Photo: Ryan L.


Jason beginning to climb up the face. Photo Ryan L.

Once on the face, the hard snow intimidated me. I’d been endeavoring to be more conservative, a continually confusing battle for me. Some fights are fought well while others are not. Any balance is hard to come by. Would the sun soften the face? Will my knee stay strong? Will I stumble? At one point all came to terms as I sat in the final schrund just minutes below the top of the NW Face. With feet dangled down from it I considered whether or not I should continue. This process was put aside as I looked down at the slope to the flat snowfields 1500-ft below. It was a crazy feeling, always is. Vertigo dismantling my balance, shattering my confidence and thoughts of that day’s freckled-enjoyment finally came full circle. My stubbornness took over and I finished the last bit off. I had my answer.  







Going to the summit was very easy, nothing more than second class rock, a boon for me by that point. On the summit I stared off into grand views I’d never seen before, suddenly caught up in a nostalgic feeling I’d not felt since my early days in the Cascades, where every peak offered new vistas so rarely seen anymore. All now wrapped up in one sweeping three-hundred and sixty degree head-turn. WOW! Canada rocks. I was so glad I continued by that point. Glad and happy, that’s why I climb. It is a chance for me to suck up fear and realize the consequence of decision and to trust in my skill to see myself through the day.

Back at the top of the NW Face Sky said, “The snow is going to be perfect.” He was right. All my worries were put to rest as Sky led the procession tearing up the face all the way to the bottom. After two hours of waiting, in a flash, I felt like a fool for worrying. Was it pointless? I don’t think so. Sometimes what keeps you thinking is all that keeps you alive.

Skiing the face was so effortless that at the bottom looking back up the route, I felt everything was simple again. Chasing the sun on the Anniversary Glacier we cruised hardening snow down to the trail where within another hour or so we were back at the car, 10 hours after we had left. On the road looking back, having skied so much terrain in September, I think we all felt like we were cheating somehow.



This story would be remiss if I skipped the drive. We spent more time at that than actually climbing! The bears, lakes, valleys indescribable, and rivers and canyons and CANADA. There’s something different about it??? I just can’t place it yet, which certainly warrants many revisits. What a place! What an experience…


Thanks for coming and thanks for the trip Ryan, Sky, Dan and Josh. Good times.

Jason Hummel

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