It's a been awhile since I've been out with my friend, Ben Nearingburg - great times on Mount King Edward - but he has just completed his incredible 5.5 record push to complete all the 11,000ers in the Canadian Rockies! This is an amazing feat and beats Nancy Hansen's previous record by 2 years. This would already be a helluva thing on its own but Ben made it much more difficult by refusing to use mechanical assistance (i.e. helicopter) for any of these peaks, including the most remote and his last one, Mount Tsar. He even managed to climb another very remote giant and one of only four Rockies peaks over 12,000 feet, twice - Mount Clemenceau. I really don't think most people can understand the level of commitment and pure drive an accomplishment like this takes. 6 or 7 years ago, Ben hadn't even worn crampons as far as I know! He practiced his climbing skills both indoors and out, including a ton of ice climbing last winter to prepare for climbs such as Robson and The Helmet. He made himself into an alpinist through sheer will and drive and practice.
All I can say is WOW. Congrats man, you've managed to do something that will be very hard to best, and in a world of very driven and competitive people you're one of the nicest mountain folks I know which makes your accomplishment even sweeter. You can read all about Ben's many incredible climbs and adventures at his website, BenThereClimbedThat.ca.
I've been asked many times for a list of my top 10 hikes, backpacking trips, scrambles, climbs and so forth. I thought about it for a bit and decided that it would be best to separate my top 10 lists into several categories, so here goes. Please note that I will update these lists as I continue to find "better" options. ;)
After a great bivy at the lovely Lyall Tarn, Wietse and I awoke at around 06:00 to an extremely windy, cloudy and dark sky beneath the brooding rock walls of Mount Lyall. We both commented on the quality of our sleep - the night was very calm and quite warm for September and we both got over 9 hours of shut-eye.
After our ascent of Beehive Mountain, Wietse, Phil and I started a delightful traverse across brightly colored alpine meadows leading under towering cliffs to the west towards the NE shoulder of Mount Lyall.
Once our original plans fell through for the weekend of September 7-9 (thanks to forest fire smoke), Phil Richards, Wietse Bijlsma and I had to think fast on Thursday night to come up with an alternate trip that still satisfied on some level. I remember years ago, Wietse telling me about a few peaks in this area including Beehive Mountain, Mount Lyall and Mount Gass.
I spent 2.5 days over the 2018 September long weekend on a canoe trip with two brothers-in-law (Mike and Calvin) and our sons on the Red Deer River, canoeing from Content Bridge to Tolman Bridge. This is a fairly nontechnical, low consequence river canoe trip that is perfect for families or novice canoeists.
The only "peak" remaining along the ridge after scrambling up Mount Townsend, Epic Tower and Mythic Tower was about as unofficial as a peak can get - "Little Mythic Tower" - so dubbed by Bob Spirko back in July of 2008 while on his scouting trip to find and document the Mythic Towers mentioned by Gillean Daffern in her famous Rockies hiking guide.
After the easy to moderate ascents of both Mount Townsend and Epic Tower, I turned my attention towards the much more involved traverse and ascent of Mystic Tower. I was not about to take this peak too light after hearing from Cornelius that it was one of his most difficult ascents - he usually makes difficult terrain look pretty easy!
After approaching and scrambling Mount Townsend, I descended its slabby summit block and down the only obvious break through its intimidating cliffs before heading along a sheep track towards Epic Tower. Initially I worried that I might have to gain and lose some elevation on this traverse, but it went much quicker and easier than I expected.
My first good look at Mount Townsend was from Cougar Peak earlier in 2018 upon reaching its summit after a fun, early season scramble in mid May with Wietse - and it looked pretty darn impressive! After getting home and doing some research I also became interested in two unofficial peaks next to Townsend along the ridge towards Mount Fable dubbed, "Epic" and "Mythic" towers.
After bailing on my original plans for the weekend thanks to an unstable weather forecast, I was sitting at home in front of my computer with a long face when my wife, Hanneke walked downstairs and said, "why don't we go for a hike instead"? Indeed. Why not go for a hike instead of moping around the house all day?
After the easy (hot and lengthy) scramble to the summit of Pyriform Mountain and its fly-covered summit cairn, Wietse and I turned our collective attention to the alluring ridge joining it to Junction Mountain. I was feeling "on point" for this traverse for some reason.
After a couple of very long and full days spent on a 5th recorded ascent of Mount McConnell, deep in the heart of Banff National Park, Phil Richards and I awoke at 05:00 on Friday morning, August 17 2018 with tired bodies and minds, unsure of our abilities to ascend another peak before exiting.
Mount McConnell is one of those peaks that got onto my mountain list somehow and just stayed hovering somewhere near the top of it but never seemed to actually get done. Why was it on my list? As one of the most remote and hard to access peaks in Banff National Park with a summit over 10,200 feet high, it is rarely done (we were only the 5th recorded ascent) and gets the explor8ion juices flowing.
After completing an 11 day canoe trip in the NW wilderness of Ontario, I was ready for a good dosage of Rockies scenery again on Monday, August 13 2018. There was a huge issue with this plan though. Wildfires in British Columbia, one province to the west, were once again conspiring to ruin lungs and views throughout the Rockies.
Phil and I felt a wee bit burned out after our monster approach and scramble of both Brussilof and Alcantara the day before and we both wanted to turn off our brains and do something a bit easier than our originally planned 1.5 days on Mount Eon. We decided pretty quickly to do the hike into Marvel Pass and check out some of the scrambles around there.
After a successful, and fun, ascent of Mount Brussilof we almost had to take advantage of good weather and a shared col to ascend Mount Alcantara's south ridge. Previous parties have used easy SW scree slopes to ascend Alcantara, but the south ridge looked absolutely fantastic from Brussilof and was a no-brainer for us to attempt, considering where we found ourselves late in the afternoon of July 20, 2018.
I've had Mount Alcantara and Brussilof on my peak list ever since reading about them in Rick Collier's trip report on Bivouac. They sounded huge, remote and challenging - especially Brussilof. I was very excited to finally tackle these two mountains and it made sense to plan a bivy to give us two full days to tackle them both if necessary.
After getting a request from Grant Myers to scramble Mount Potts (we couldn't get the timing right) and also after looking at it on our approach to Mount Denny earlier in 2018, it was on my radar for an ascent at some point this year. Kane describes this peak as "much more difficult than Denny" and even suggests combining it with that peak for a long two peak day.