Crevasse falls stalled Mt. Saskatchewan climb
Weather-delayed helicopter picked up Saskatoon team Friday
Falls into crevasses stalled a team of Saskatoon-based mountaineers who were trying to reach the summit of Mount Saskatchewan.
Conditions on the Yukon mountain, in Kluane National Park, prevented the four climbers from being the first to reach the peak.
They set out May 18.
"There was avalanche danger," team leader Steve Whittington told CBC News on Friday after the team was safely plucked from a camp where they were waiting for weather conditions to improve enough to allow for a helicopter pick-up.
"The snow conditions were sugary," he added. "We fell in crevasses. I think we totalled it at 12 crevasse falls."
Whittington said the attempt challenged all their skills.
"We had to be on our game," he said. "Every step we took on this mountain had increasing consequence. The terrible weather was just one factor."
The team stopped their ascent earlier in the week after two attempts to reach the summit. They could not make the final 300 metres to the 3,500-metre peak.
Whittington said they considered making a third attempt but weather conditions were bad and they decided to put safety first.
"We decided our summit bid was over," he said.
They retreated to a point about 2,300 metres high on the mountain where they huddled in tents.
Their helicopter pick-up was delayed by weather and took place Friday in a narrow window of opportunity.
An experienced guide operator, Lance Goodwin of Icefield Ranges Expeditions, said it has been a difficult season for climbers.
"There's been a continuous barrage of different systems coming through," Goodwin told CBC News.