On March 05, 2016, after we successfully scrambled End Mountain, Mike Mitchell (Giant's Gate Journeys) and I set our sights on my second and Mike's third summit of the (long) day. There is no good reason not to hike to the summit of Association Hill if you're in the area anyway and you're a peak bagger. Personally, there was no way I was going over the Yam shoulder for a 5th time so I had planned End and Association Hill from the start. Mike figured he might as well have a nice three peak day and joined me.
[Association Hill seen from east slopes of Association Peak while descending from an ascent of End Mountain and traverse to Association Peak before bagging our third peak of the day. Admittedly a small peak - but hey, whose counting... ;)]
[Hiking up Association Hill in a temporary blizzard.]
The best part of Association Hill is that it actually gets you part way back to the parking lot so other than the 100 meters of height gain from the col, it's pretty much a free summit with better views than expected. We started our hike in a mini blizzard - accurately predicted by SpotWX.com to within 30 minutes! Just as predicted, by the time we reached the summit the views were back and the sun was out. That is the most accurate forecasting I've experienced in a while. After a few photos at the summit it was time to turn our attention to the long way out, especially as sunset was in about an hour.
[Mike comes up behind me - the weather has really moved in now!]
[The storm is already clearing as we work our way to the summit of Association Hill. ++]
[The pathetic summit cairn is worse than Channel Ridge's effort (sorry Wietse!)... The views towards Yamnuska, EPOW, Wendell and Morrowmount (L to R) are pretty good though. ++]
[Yamnuska on the left and Wendell on the right.]
[The twin summits of Morrowmount.]
[Looking back along the summit ridge of Association Hill with Association Peak and End Mountain (R) looming above. ++]
[Black Rock Mountain]
[Interesting views off the south ridge of Association Hill looking towards Yamnuska - where we have to go next!]
We quickly exited the light forested slopes on the south end of Association Hill before linking up with the approach track from Old Fort Creek. At the creek we filled our empty water bottles before slogging the rest of the way to the truck. We needed head lamps for only the last 10 minutes or so. All-in-all this was a great 11.5 hour day in perfect spring-like weather and conditions. I didn't need gloves or a toque all day, even at the various summits, other than the last 20 minutes or so. Can't complain about that in early March!
[The easy south slopes of Association Hill and our escape route to Old Fort Creek. We have to hike all the way past the mountain in the far distance here - Yamnuska - hopefully before dark!]
[Telephoto of the north side of Yamnuska, note all the scramble trails up to the summit from the left.]
[Light birch forest and dead grass. For some reason, I really love this type of terrain.]
[Melting snow and green mossy carpets define the lower forest near Old Fort Creek.]
[Taking a break just before linking back up with Old Fort Creek.]
[Association Peak (R) catches the last of the sun's warm rays as we exit the CMC valley via the Old Fort Creek.]
[Last views of Association Peak (L) and End Mountain (R) as we exit the valley and enter the maze of old roads and trails up and around the Yam shoulder.]
[Thankfully our approach track was pretty supportive even after a very warm day! This section would have been HELL if the snow went isothermal on us.]
[Don't expect fully clear roads - they're quite over grown in places.]
[The roughest section of road runs across the east nose of the Yam shoulder.]
[Yam's south face and evening light as we round the shoulder and head for the shortcut route back to the truck.]