Conquering the mountain
Hay River trio climb Mount Robson

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 06/99) - Five-year Northerner Dale Enzenauer has been mountain climbing on and off for the past 12 years, but no climb was as arduous as the one earlier this month.

Along with two other Hay River residents, Clell Crook and Rafe Smith, Enzenauer made it to the 3,954-metre summit of British Columbia's Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

"We mitigated the danger by climbing at 2 o'clock in the morning," Enzenauer said of the climb to the top of the mountain.

"Because it was so warm, the snow was sliding."

The trip started on Aug. 2 and the trio took three days to climb to what they called the dome -- a place at about 3100 metres where the three could camp.

Three days later, the trio were still at the dome because of bad weather.

For Crook and Enzenauer it was much like the year before when bad weather kept them from attempting a climb to the summit.

But unlike 1998, this year would be a success, though not before a seven-hour gruelling hike kick-stepping up the face of the mountain.

Finally, at 2 a.m. on Aug. 6, the three decided to make a go of the climb to the top.

All were connected by ropes.

"Mostly you propel yourself upwards with your legs by making kicking steps and we protected our position with our ice axes," Enzenauer said.

"We climbed the face in the dark, then daylight broke and we went maybe a kilometre along a steep ridge."

Enzenauer said the group all used their ice axes and sunk them the full length of the shaft into the mountain.

To help with the kick-stepping, the group all had crampons -- or steel spikes -- on their feet and made it to the top at about 9 a.m.

"We met some young Yammaska mountain guides at the summit as well," he said.

"They had three clients with them, but they all weren't part of our group."

After about an hour at the summit the group decided to start the descent.

But by noon the high temperatures had started to melt the snow and snowslides seemed to be coming down all around them on the upper part of the mountain.

"So we were stranded and had to wait until 6 p.m. because it was too dangerous to move anywhere," Enzenauer said.

"Where we were there was no danger of slides from above us."

The group camped overnight at the dome before making it down to the parking lot in another day.

"My goals are to climb either Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in the United States, or Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada within the next five years," Enzenauer said.

"There's no official mountain climbing club in Hay River, but people can contact me."