This climb was scheduled as Iceberg Peak via Iceberg Notch, but not surprisingly the Iceberg Lake trail was closed for bear traffic just before the climb. After discussing circumstances with the climbers, we switched our destination to Edwards Mountain with the goal of also attempting Gunsight Mountain. The standard route up these two peaks begins with gaining Comeau Pass via the Sperry Chalet trail. This pass positions the climber between the peaks, providing a choice of doing either peak or both. Comeau Pass is almost 19 miles roundtrip by itself, so we definitely had big plans this day with two peaks added to the mix. With a small but entertaining group of David Koel, Denise Grabowski, Tony Brown, Dr. Richard Briles (the importance of this title as it relates to this story will be explained!), and me, the long trek to Comeau Pass seemed very short. At the pass, we discussed which peak to tackle first and decided on Edwards via the East Face route. Less than half an hour up the ridge, Denise sustained a fall after losing her balance on a short Class 3/4 pitch; unfortunately, she hit her head on the rocks below with enough force to cause bleeding. Prior to this incident, Denise had never fallen on a climb!
Always a trouper, Denise never once complained and was cracking jokes immediately afterwards, but it was providence that Dr. Briles - an emergency room physician - was along. He was able to check vitals on Denise and, after ruling out the possibility of concussion, used “skin glue” provided by Al Hofmeister to touch up Denise’s scalp (Al happened to be in the area that day). After we determined Denise’s climbing was over for the day, I accompanied her back to Comeau Pass while the other three climbers headed for the summit. After dropping off the east ridge halfway up, the three climbers took a steeply undulating approach to the summit, cutting south along the east face. Denise and I rested at the pass feeling like George Kennedy’s character Ben Bowman in The Eiger Sanction as we watched our friends on the entire climbing route eventually achieve the summit of Edwards. As you can tell from the summiting climbers’ expressions, the 5,800 ft/20-plus mile effort was worth it. With the group reunited but morale slightly shaken, we decided to abort the Gunsight option. The descent was uneventful, and somehow we even made it to the Lake McDonald Lodge in time for beverages and burgers. The value of wearing a climbing helmet in steep terrain was not lost on our climbing party this day. Denise immediately invested in a helmet (choosing “kiwi-green to match her bruises,” she says!) and used it on a climb of Mt. Gould the following weekend. This whole incident also motivated Denise’s husband Joe to donate a climbing helmet to the 2009 GMS Winter Potluck raffle – thanks Joe!
Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Tim Anderson at email@example.com. Please note that we prefer to receive the photos in approximately 640x480 or 750x500 pixels - do NOT send original high-res photos. If you have a LOT of photos, please submit up to twenty of your favorites (only) for a day event, or up to forty of your favourites for a multi-day event. Thank you.
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