Clemenceau Icefields, Grassi Hut

Jim Frankenfield;; 1-877-604-0166

[Climbing and Mountain Recreation Page]

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More detailed reports than I have here:

By Alan Kane: Summary, Full
Report from Calgary Section website (a distillation or combination of the above 2)

In August of 2000 my friend Iain and I joined up with a group from the Calgary Section of the Alpine Club of Canada which had two seats left flying into the remote Grassi hut. In June we had been in a major rockfall on Mt Hood in which I lost a small fragment of hip bone that was shattered, and this was the first major trip I took after that event. While I climbed both Tusk and Clemenceau I couldn't do more than that. I started out for Shackleton with Rob and Iain but the hip was bothering me at that point. We returned to the hut and the other two climbed Shipton with some of the others.

Many of these photos are mine, some are not. Immediately after the trip I offered some server space as a central repository for photos from anyone wanting to send them. I began to sort them but before I finished Alan had written up his report and selected photos for it. This page was created after the fact in the summer of 2003 and the photo sources are not all clear anymore.

Flying In
Helicopter Taking Off Helicopter Parked for Loading Helicopter Drop-Off A typically smooth trip in by Alpine Helicopter. Vehicles need to be secured from porcupines using chicken wire in this area.

The Hut

The hut itself is one room but very spacious. It is not quite ideally located for climbing, pre-hut camps used to be across the Tusk Glacier near or past Mt Clemenceau. The hut location is the only non-ice area which was feasible. Access is still pretty good, although the climb back up onto the moraine ridge after a long day is annoying, especially in the dark when the routefinding is tricky.

ACC Grassi Hut ACC Grassi Hut Grassi Hut Outhouse Grassi Hut Inside Grassi Hut Interior

The Area, Views

On the left is the long glacial runoff waterfall below the hut. The second photo shows the only treed area around, behind the hut and below the outhouse. In winter this might offer the only tree skiing, assuming one could access it safely and locate the hut when returning. The middle photo shows Mt Clemenceau reflected in one of the ponds along the ridge where the hut is located. In the right picture Mt Shackleton is in the background. The route described in the book goes up the rocks right of the icefall to gain the glacier for the most direct access from the hut. Nobody liked the looks of it although it should be on the order of 5.6. The alternative is via the Tusk glacier in what looks to be a very long approach duplicating half the route up Tusk just on the approach.

Clemenceau Icefields Waterfall Trees Behind Grassi Hut Mt Clemenceau and Reflection View from Grassi Hut Mt Shackleton

Climbing Clemenceau

During the week everyone summited Mt Clemenceau on one of three days, with the exception of one guy who had done it before and was mostly interested in Tusk (which he did). Most of these photos are from the second group of us - Iain, Rob and myself - to climb it. We took a different route which proved to be very interesting.

To borrow from Alan Kanes report - "On Clemenceau, meanwhile, Rob, Iain and Jim had deviated from the normal route and climbed directly up the steep snow face to the heavily corniced south ridge, also in a storm. Whether this variation, (the Largiarder route), was intentional remains a mystery, but their progress did entertain those at the hut watching by telescope."

Every trip deserves to have its lingering myths and mysteries, so I see no reason to disclose here whether our choice of route was intentional or not! However, after descending the standard route I can assure you that our ascent route was far more interesting.

The left photo shows one of the crevasses along the relatively flat glacier approach towards Clemenceau and Tusk and could be from almost any day. The top center is of the first group and was taken through a telescope from the hut by James.

Crevasse Iain in front of Tusk Climbers on Clemenceau Summit Ridge of Clemenceau Rob on Clemenceau
Rob on Clemenceau August Weather on Clemenceau Rob and Iain on Clemenceau Rob Descending Clemenceau Tusk

Climbing Tusk

The second "prize" in the area is Tusk. Six of us did this the first day, while the other four did Clemenceau. Some of them later tried Tusk and I had thought everyone ended up doing this as well, but according to Alans report they were stopped short of the summit by a squall.

The left photo has the route up the glacier marked (from the top it more or less follows the ridgeline). The next three are from the actual trek up the glacier. The ice face in the second photo has only been done twice according to old registers in the hut. I looked this up because it seemed very appealing. The right (top) photo is looking down onto the infamous Tusk-Duplicate icefall. At one time it was the standard approach for Shackleton, although today it is considered impassible. When it was commonly used two climbers from an ACC camp were killed in a serac fall, and there are now peaks in the area named for them - Sharp and Morrison.

The two left bottom photos show Shackleton in the background. It has difficult access in addition to a challenging route and is probably not climbed often. Several of us agreed that it would be the true prize accomplishment in the area, especially from the hut. The next two are from the crux section of the rocky ridgeline, and the last is the typical summit photo of the rest of the group.

Route on Tusk Ice Face by Tusk Climbing Tusk Climbing Tusk Tusk-Duplicate Icefall
Mt Shackleton Mt Shackleton Belay Station on Tusk Climbing Tusk Summit of Tusk

Climbing Shipton, Some Panoramas

Sim, Anthony and Alan climbed a ridge on Shipton one day. I'm not familiar with the details, use the link at the top to read his full trip report. The panoramas are (left to right) Mt Clemenceau, the treed bowls behind the hut, and the peaks south across the glacier which are non-technical but still significant endeavors.

Mt Clemenceau from Shipton On Mt Shipton Clemenceau Panorama Panorama - Trees behind Grassi Hut Panorama

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