Trip Date: August 11, 2016
Trip time: 8 hours
Distance: 11 kms
Elevation Gain: 2,200m
Still reeling from rejection on the SE ridge of Lady Mac two days prior (read that account by clicking here), and having scrutinized the three very conflicting trip reports available on the net (Dewit/Bou & Kane) my scrambling confidence was admittedly shaky heading into Vaux solo. Treeing two black bear cubs about 150m up the veritable berry patch that is the lower Vaux gully didn’t help, but thankfully momma bear let me pass in a wide sweeping arc. Bring your spray and try to yell over the highway noise!
Luckily, and thanks to the benefit of route beta from trail blazers like Kane, Dewit & Bou, Mount Vaux is an enjoyable outing and making it to the summit was a more straightforward affair than expected. The first 1700m of Vaux is steep hiking on unusually firm terrain for a gully, making for quick travel. The next 350m is moderate scrambling and if you stay on the rock to the left of the snow patch it’s safer and faster. After crossing the extremely soft snow arete the crux is fairly gentle compared to other difficult scrambles like Wapta or Smuts, certainly nowhere near a climbers scramble. The final 150m or so to the summit are again moderate scrambling but on very loose rock. Descending is simply a matter of returning the same way and the route is fairly easy to recognize in reverse.
If you’ve had plenty of practice route finding and are used to difficult scrambles Mount Vaux is a completely reasonable outing (contrary to what others are saying online). The exposure on Vaux is never gut wrenching or extreme and if you take your time picking lines it’s easy to feel in control the entire trip. Vaux is a very long route so it’s hard to give good comparison scrambles; Mount Bosworth is probably the most similar trip I’ve done (but Vaux is obviously twice as long).
Mount Vaux is certainly not an easy, benign objective; there are no cairns, trails or paths of any kind on the route…yet…and it would be a terrible idea to attempt it without some solid difficult scrambles that require route finding under your belt. If you chose a bad line on Vaux it could become a climbers scramble or worse very quickly. If you’re heading up Vaux be safe and have fun!!