The Southwest Face
was climbed for the first ascent of Mount Assiniboine. James Outram borrowed two guides from Edward Whymper's Canadian Pacific Railroad sponsored crew. Other strong teams had already tried Assiniboine via the North Ridge.
Outram's team instead climbed to the Sturdee-Assiniboine Col and then found a kep traverse ledge that connects to the Southwest Face below Lunnette Col, without loosing much elevation (purple in North Face photo). Outram insisted upon descending the North Ridge in order to tick both routes at once. This was the highest peak yet climbed in Canada in 1903.
The Southwest Face, is the way to do the mountain fastest and without fees. Some have called this less glaciated aspect the ugly side
, but this 2010 photo seems to prove the route as worthy.
This is grizzly bear country and a party of four, armed to the teeth with bear spray, is wise. LUNETTE LAKE, SOUTHWEST FACE
Drive the Settlers Road approach from Radium Hot Springs to the Marvel Pass/Assiniboine Creek trailhead. (red on trail map
) The more obvious trail, up Aurora Creek to Marvel Pass, is not the way to Assiniboine's Southwest Face. (black on trail map)
To get to the Assiniboine Creek trail from the Marvel Pass parking, follow a logging road west and cross a clear cut northwest. An "outfitters trail" is found after the clear cut. This trail is reported as good, except for slippery bridges. (Nancy Hansen, Canadian Alpine Journal, 1999) Have your harness ready to via-ferrata the cable on one bridge.
On the trail to Assiniboine Lake, keep an eye out for the Lunnette Lake trail. Look close along the green dashes to find Lunette Lake on my ancient trail map
After reaching Lunette Lake, cross the outlet and begin climbing brushy slopes, scree, traversing benches, finding slots through cliffs, and climbing snow. The key is traversing right to dodge a big cliff. Once through the cliff band, change direction, traversing climber's left towards the main summit. Don't climb up to the Assiniboine-Lunette Col.
If the terrain becomes fifth class, then look for a way around. The story is, after traversing around from the Assiniboine-Strom Col, Outram's team could tell from below that a better route had been found. Soloists say the whole route is more scramble
than rock climb. Meghan Joyward's trip report mentions several pitches and rappels from so-so anchors during a spring ascent. ASSINIBOINE LAKE APPROACH, NORTH RIDGE & SOUTHWEST FACE
Another variation to approach the Southwest Face has been done, via Assiniboine Lake. From the far right end of the lake, climb about 1,000 feet of scree gully on Mount Sturdee. More distracting than trail-side huckleberries, trilobites made of fools gold can be found in the scree. As soon as the gully opens up, traverse left to the of the glacier that is followed to the Assiniboine-Strom Col. Don crampons and dodge crevasses up to the glacier until a final 200 feet of scree ends at the Assiniboine-Strom Col
. From the col, either traverse to the Southwest Face or descend to the Hind Hut.
More than one team has used Assiniboine Creek to approach the hut and North Ridge, then descended via the Southwest Face route and Lunette Lake approach. Good information about on-sighting the descent in this trip report @ Summitpost