Thursday, April 05, 2007

"Returning To Mt. Niblock....."




Mt. Niblock is located very near Lake Louise in Banff National Park. It is the peak on the right in the picture of the double summit above...
J. Waterman wrote: "No climber, active or inactive, young or old, can help but look back to one of their earlier climbs with a sense that they had touched something beautiful and elusive, and found movement upon rock and ice as creation... In these remembrances most climbers find necessary definition for the rest of their lives."
How I've mused over the meanings within this quote when remembering the days of adventure out with Mt. Niblock. Over the years I have gone back three times; two solo trips, and one with family and friends. It re-minds me of the essential concepts of 'returnings'...
Mt. Niblock is 2976 meters or 9764 feet in height, while its sister peak to the left is Mt. Whyte, which is 2990 meters or 9810 feet. Niblock was named after John Niblock, an early traveler in this area.
My first visit was to complete a double solo summit traverse of both, and doing so in one day gave me a real sense of the nature of sustained scrambling. With an alpine start (as if there were any other kind in those early days) meeting nobody on the usually busy path up from Lake Louise, there was cool air and cobwebs letting me know I was first up. The full moon was still out, and I often have thought with such alpine starts, that I must either be some nocturnal creature or a lycanthrope... After much route finding and traversing upon loose rock, the day was to be mine alone on the summits of Mt. Niblock & Whyte, as were many during seasons where I was out solo...
That day too was one that seemed to be of 'Flow' as Csikszentmihalyi has written about, where gravity was working in reverse, and things got lighter and faster the higher I went...
My mantra was one of practicing a Mountain Guide's musing of remembering 'Posture & pace; breathing & rhythm'...
The second return to Mt. Niblock was with family and friends, where I was able to lead, and experience the mountain in yet another way... My third day upon Niblocks' rocky slopes was a further solo, where I returned again, somewhat older, definitely slower... but welcomed back as if by an old friend...
I was also to try a classic technical climbing route on Mt Whyte in later years to gain even other vistas...
I believe we all have our own special mountains and days out upon them... I imagine myself returning to Mt. Niblock once more in future seasons... But if I don't... the memories of these adventure experiences have made impressions upon me as lasting as those made upon rock by the passing of countless seasons...
DSD


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our Summit Stone was found on the best scramble in Lake O'Hara.
We were on the first bus up and hiked up past some small lakes up to the route on Mt Yukness.
It was a cloudy day but we made it to the summit by the middle of the day.
We couldn't find a summit register but did discover a Summit Stone in the large cairn up there.
It was a superb climb made better by your gift.

Pat said...

"Adventure Musing"
What a great idea!
Pat

Douglas Wilcox said...

I like this story of a wonderful mountain and your plan to return. I would love to return to the Skye Cuillin but my arthritis is bad. Someday, like you I hope to be able to return, but in the meantime the memories are good.

SummitStones said...

Thanks Pat!
Yes, Douglas, the concept of returning is often in my thoughts.....
And as for Yukness, in Lake O'Hara, I might have to return there this year.......
DSD

Peter A. Niblock said...

I note that John Niblock is said to be an early traveller in the area. He was in fact the superintendent of the C.P.R. (Mountain Division) extending from Swift Current, SK to Field, BC from 1887 to 1910. The division office was in Medicine Hat until 1900 and after that in Calgary. The mountain received its present name in 1904. He was my great grandfather. I climbed to the summit on July 24, 1965 at the age of 36.

SummitStones said...

Hello Peter,
Thank you so very much for commenting and adding greater perspectives on your Grandfather.
It is always wonderful to learn more about the person whom such mountains are named in respect of. You were an early climber too of a summit that has its own amazing history for mountaineers.
I plan to return yet again this summer. It is a favorite place...
All the best Peter!
D