Two 11’ers in a day, sounds brilliant right? Mt Woolley and Diadem are two big summits sharing a nice, high col. Doing them both at once only seemed to make sense.
Ian and I headed out from Golden and started the trek up toward Woolley shoulder, setting camp below Mt Engelhard at 2100m on a dry bivy site. It was on and off spitting rain or snow all the way up, and once we set up the shelter big fat flakes started pounding down, awesome!
We got up nice and early the next day and started toward the Woolley Glacier. Skinning up before the glacier got wild, there were a ton of big, hard snow chunks. Maybe a cornice failure off Diadem? We ascended the little couloir on the climbers right side of the glacier, with overhanging serac. In snowy conditions though, the couloir walls are filled enough you can climb up the side with actually relatively little risk from the serac. It didn’t take long to get above the serac though, and once out the top of the couloir and onto the glacier, we skinned to the col between Woolley and Diadem. Then we kept skinning up the N ridge of Woolley, keeping well back from the huge cornice and probing frequently for the easily masked windswept crevasses on the glaciated ridge. Views were fleeting, teasing, as clouds passed by we were treated to partial views of Mt Alberta’s incredible bulk, Cromwell and the impressive icefall in the Twins area.
Then we skied back down the ridge, I descended a part of the east face I liked the look of which had a great blanket of pow on hard crust, and Ian went straight down the ridge. We skinned back to the col, then scrambled along the nicely put together SW ridge of Diadem, mostly dry rock at this point covered in a recent skiff of snow. Then a bit of skinning on the summit ice crown to the top. We dropped down the same SE couloir Ian skied years back at the same time of year, but then they had snow all the way from the car, even skinning across the Sunwapta River without issue! Snow was the general mixed bag you expect on a solar aspect this late in the year, the fresh snow that had just fallen had already become mushy, but so was the surface beneath, so skiing was pretty good. There was a big crown in the couloir near the top I wasn’t able to see yesterday through the snow and passing cloud, but it didn’t rip to ground anywhere (I would’ve seen rock if it did go to ground). So that’s what all those chunks were!Then ski all the way to the tent, pack up and walk back down. A very productive quick trip.