The Sir Sandford Group is deeply tucked away in the middle of the Northern Selkirks. Seven sub-ranges block access from the Rogers Pass area. To the north, the Adamant Group and three other sub-ranges screen easy viewing of the most impressive and highest summit of British Columbia's Interior Ranges, Mount Sir Sandford (11,580'). The common analogy is 'The Robson of the Interior Ranges'.
Named after Sir Sandford Flemming, the man who invented time zones in 1884 (David P Jones, Selkirks North, 2001). First climbed in 1912 by bushwhackers extraordinaire Aemmer, Fuez Jr, Holway, and Palmer. This kind of detail would normally be in a route description, but their line is now a serac bowling ally.
The rock is not the best. Marble, micaceous schist, and phyllite predominate. Sir Sandford is famous for it's sharp but rotten ball-bearing marble. The 1955 first ascent team of Palisade Peak, described unreliable rock that: ..."resembles an overhanging sand dune." Luckily, much of the group is covered by numerous (retreating) glaciers. On the positive side, David Jones states: "Rockfall is not a big problem, since surface rocks disintegrate into sand as soon as they start moving."
There are only two recommendable ways to get into Sir Sandford, helicoptering or Moberly Pass.
There is an outdated and very difficult way third way that crosses the Adamants. Washed out roads and glacial retreat are making the old way less fun. Let's hope the logging roads used to get to near Moberly Pass don't get washed out or decommissioned.
ROUTE DESCRIPTIONThe Northwest Ridge didn't catch on until the 1980s, after several near misses with serac avalanches crashing down the 1946 Hourglass route. Why did climbers keep choosing the obviously dangerous lower Hourglass Route? Probably because of the easier approach from the Great Cairn Hut (approx 6,250'). The Northwest Ridge is a safe way to reach the 50 degree ice pitch of the actual hourglass feature above most of the big ice cliffs. From the hut, traverse to the Sandford ...[more]Browse More Classics in International