Failed Attempt: Mount Albert Edward

Well, it’s not much of a trip report but I wanted to log my feelings around the experience I had yesterday, anyways.

Yesterday I attempted Mount Albert Edward under blazing hot sun (24 C!) and quite nice spring conditions. In no way was the difficulty of the task (the mountain is basically a walk-up) nor the weather a factor in my decision to turn around.

It was a much more mental game yesterday than anything. Truth be told, I was just scared. Scared of being alone. This is not the first time that this has happened in this very same area. I really don’t know what it is, but being in the mountains alone is a hard thing for me to get over. It’s even more upsetting to me when I dwell upon the fact that this trip was supposed to be a warm-up to get me comfortable with doing more solo trips into the wilds. The intention being to enable me to do lots of trips alone during my time off from work in 2015.

I made excellent time and got to Circlet Lake from the parking lot at Mount Washington in under 3 hours, this was on really soft and quickly melting snow. When I got there I checked out the standard route up to the ridge-line and spied the other ridge to the right that Josh and I had descended about two years ago. Both, for some reason, looked sketchy. Maybe it was the quickly melting snow on the ridges or the fact that it was really really quiet that turned me off of trying the climb. I hadn’t seen anyone at all the entire day. I got a bad vibe and turned around.

I made good time back to my dad’s car in the parking lot but was exhausted by the time I got there. The snow had become really (almost too) soft in the heat of the day. Some of my tracks had already melted out! All in all, I think I walked about 24km in soft snow yesterday. My body did me proud, but my mind seems to have failed me. Then again, maybe it has served me well – maybe I was not meant to go up on that ridge and my mind has prevented something really terrible from happening to me. I don’t know, really.

Here are some things that I learned, that I do know for sure:

  • Go lighter than you think that you need to. (I had, again, way too much stuff with me yesterday. An idea would be to take the down sleeping bag in not-so-wet conditions.)
  • Put sunscreen on your legs even if you are wearing full zip pants! (If you end up opening the zippers up all the way because it is a super hot fucking day, the sides of your legs will get sunburned!)
  • Try to relax and enjoy the trip when you are alone.
  • Trust yourself. (This is a point that I don’t really need to “learn” – I actually did do just this yesterday! I feel though, that it’s worth mentioning. Something was off about the idea/trip from the get-go, I should have listened to that.)

I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this time around Albert, but you and I will have some alone time soon enough…

Everything can always be better or worse.

  • Hi Jonathon,

    I haven’t done any solo hiking and was going to attempt to work my way towards hiking to Mt Albert Edward this summer. It’s nice to read your honest words about someone being scared to be in the mountains on their own, because I get that way too and haven’t hiked much, so am hoping it goes away with experience.

    There is always next summer :)

    • jonathan

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I’m getting better at being solo in the hills. I worked on this feeling this summer. I haven’t had time to post about it though. Here’s a GPS track from a solo trip I did last month.

      Take care!

    • Jonathan

      Appreciate that comment, Susan. Yeah, there is always next time :)

  • dave

    Hey Jonathan,

    I’m thinking of doing this hike in a couple weeks on June 9th. Considering the amount of snow you went through, how do you think the trails will look?

    Will snowshoes and walking sticks be necessary?

    Cheers!
    Dave

    • jonathan

      Hey Dave,

      Thanks for reaching out! On June 9th they’ll for sure still be snow at the higher elevations but I don’t really know if you’ll need proper snowshoes or not. Probably you will want them for the long ridge walk once you get up onto the ridge from Circlet. A good trick is to watch the Mount Washington web cams: http://www.mountwashington.ca/index.php/weather/web-cams.html?cam=nordic&cam-id=1 They have one that points right at Albert Edward. I always like treking poles (even without snow), so I’d say bring those. If you’re trying to go light, I’m sure it’d be doable without snowshoes and if you got good snow. The snow I had was really soft as it was the first really hot day of the year. I hope this helps, feel free to email me at jonathanbell.ca@gmail.com if you like or post a link back to a trip report.

      Have a great time!