On Wednesday, September 27 2017 I was joined by Trevor Boyce for an easy hike and traverse of Odlum Ridge, deep in Kananaskis Country just east of the Continental Divide and south of Highwood Pass. Our plan was to take advantage of the great weather with views of larches and aesthetic mountains in the background. We were not disappointed! Why such a tame objective? First of all, this was our first time out together. Trevor is the person responsible for getting Cornelius Rott into scrambling. After recently scrambling Lougheed I with Cornelius, I was keen to meet the guy who'd gotten him so interested in our favorite pastime. The second reason for a rather tame outing, was that Phil and I had some big plans for the following few days, and I wanted to save some leg strength for that. I'd already been out on Howard Douglas, Eagle and Consummation Peak over the previous few days, so taking it "easy" wasn't a horrible idea.
At first Trevor was a bit hesitant to commit to such an easy outing, but when I showed him Matt Clay's photos from the area in larch season, he was in. We met at the trailhead around 07:30 and started off along the obvious trail. The trail was obvious but there are many other trails in the area to avoid, making a GPS track very handy on this outing. We crossed the Highwood River about 20 minutes from the parking lot with no issues and continued along the very overgrown track towards Odlum Ridge. We chatted a lot this day as the terrain is fairly benign - it was a fun way to cover the elevation and distance. At the beginning of the day the conversation was about ourselves but by the end of the day we were into wide-ranging topics such as philosophy, religion and politics! I found Trevor's intelligent, engaging and non-judgmental attitude refreshing. More people need to learn how to debate without de-hate. Our world would be the better for it IMHO.
[Trevor brought waders to cross the Highwood but I didn't bother as it wasn't even knee deep this late in the year.]
The dang approach road was a lot more bushy than I thought it'd be. It wasn't too long, thankfully, but it made me glad I didn't drag anyone close to me into this hike like my wife or aunt Edna. Neither of them would have been very impressed from the get-go. Less than an hour after starting out we arrived at a good place to start our steep ascent to the first summit. Trevor led the way up the steep slope on a mix of grassy and lightly forested terrain. There were a ton of trails on this slope and we usually managed to stick to one or another before finding a better one. They switchbacked, so I doubt they're from non-human animals. Trevor is in good shape, and he managed to keep quite the conversation going as we sweated our way up the never-ending steep slope to the first summit! Between the views and the talking, it seemed like no time at all and we were on top. It took us 2.5 hours. We still had tons of time left and neither of us wanted to quit the stunning views we were experiencing, so we dropped down the west ridge leading to the center summit.
[Really?! This is a ROAD?]
[A slightly less bushy section of "road".]
[Starting up the steep slope to the first summit.]
[It is going to be a lovely day.]
[This is why you do Odlum Ridge in late September. Mount Bishop (C) and Mount McPhail (L) with Horned Mountain between them. ++]
[Looking back down our approach from a less-angled section of the ridge. They're hard to see against the morning glare but at left lie Patterson's Peak, Serendipity, Head and Holy Cross.]
[The terrain eases off as we start the traverse to the first summit - Mist Mountain at right with snow.]
[What a morning! Already in t-shirts and not a hint of wind.]
[Pleasant hiking towards the first summit.]
[Lovely larch forest along the ridge. ++]
[Almost at the first summit.]
[Views south (L) and west (R) from the first summit. The second summit at far right. Peaks include (L to R), MacLaren, Strachan, Muir, McPhail, Horned, Bishop, Loomis and Odlum. ++]
[Looking west (L) and north (R) the view includes Odlum, Storelk, Tyrwhitt, Lipsett, Mist, Eagle Ridge, Mist Ridge and Gibraltar. ++]
[Slightly zoomed in pano looking south (L) and southwest (R) towards peaks I'd done earlier in 2017 such as MacLaren, Muir, Hill of the Flowers and McPhail. The two closest peaks at right are Horned Mountain and Mount Bishop. ++]
[Mount Loomis (L) with it's approach and ascent lines visible. We briefly considered adding it to our day but I had to limit my enthusiasm or risk missing my next few planned days. Plus, it's possible to do Loomis and Odlum (R) in one long day, so we preferred that option. Mount Abruzzi in the distance beyond Odlum. ++]
[Highwood Peak (C).]
[Unnamed Peaks to the north of Highwood Peak.]
[Mount McPhail at left center with Horned to the right and Bishop at far right.]
[Mount Abruzzi pokes over the Odlum Col.]
Although the map names the first summit as the highest, official one, I debate that. From the second summit the first certainly looks a tiny bit lower. No matter, because the traverse between the two is worth it if you have the time and energy. Just remember that you either have to drop to valley bottom to exit, or go back up the first summit. Traversing beneath the high points on return would be side-hilling but might work. The views kept improving as we walked and talked. Mist Mountain was especially impressive, but I was also intrigued by lesser known (to me) summits to the east such as Highwood Peak, Lineham Ridge, Lineham Peaks, Patterson's Peak and Serendipity. Obviously peaks to the west such as Bishop, Loomis and Odlum were also engaging.
[Looking back at the first summit from the traverse - there are some easy scrambling bits if you stick to the ridge crest. ++]
[Looking back over the first summit from the center one. I think this one's a tad higher.]
[Great views north from the center peak include Mist and other peaks around the Highwood Pass area. ++]
[Stunning views over the Divide include Odlum (R) and Loomis (C-L). ++]
[Views south to Bishop and McPhail.]
[Looking south over Hill of the Flowers towards Muir, Strachan and MacLaren with Courcelette and Cornwell in the far distance.]
[Grizzly and Highwood Ridges with Tyrwhitt and Pocaterra in the distance.]
[Storelk looks fierce from this angle!]
[I believe these are Mount Minton (L) and Marconi (R).]
[Lying just to the east of Odlum Ridge is the impressive Highwood Peak (C-R) with equally impressive unnamed summits at left and an impressively shaped Junction Mountain just visible at distant right.]
[A better view of Junction Mountain just visible to the east.]
[Looking far to the northeast now, towards Banded, Glasgow and Outlaw peaks.]
After taking in the great views from the center peak we decided to continue a bit further along the ridge to see if the views improved. The third bump was obviously much lower than the two summits we'd already been on, but the views from it were worth the extra height gains and distance. After snapping too many photos we reluctantly turned around.
[Great fall scenes.]
[Looking north off the third summit, up the Highwood Pass.]
[Looking west from the third summit.]
[Speckled with gold.]
[Filled with gold.]
[Looking back along Odlum Ridge and our return route. ++]
Matt didn't sell the return via the creek below in his trip report very well, so Trevor and I agreed we'd rather keep enjoying the gorgeous views and suck up some extra height gain rather than get into bushwhacking and limited views. Our seemingly endless appetite for chatting didn't stop for the rest of the return over the two summits and back down the manky approach road. Which is very odd, considering we both professed to not liking people very much!!
[Storelk at left and Tyrwhitt / Pocaterra at center right with Highwood and Grizzly Ridge to the right.]
[Interesting terrain along the return ridge.]
[In between the two high summits along the ridge.]
[There's gold in them hills!]
[Taking a break on the ridge with views forever.]
[More views west to Abruzzi and Odlum.]
[Highwood Peak at center with Lineham Ridge at right.]
[A last look at Mist Mountain with Eagle Ridge at right foreground.]
[Descending the long ridge back into the trees.]
[Looking south down hwy 40 (L) from the descent ridge. ++]
[Not a shabby way to spend a day off.]
[Crossing the obvious drainage on return that you do NOT ascend - go about 200m further.]
Within 7.5 hours of leaving hwy 40, we were back at the vehicles. Trevor and I both enjoyed this easy outing. We could have done it a bit quicker but why rush things on such a gorgeous day? Trevor actually added a second summit (Mount Gunnery) to his day and I wisely rested my legs for Dr. Phil and my subsequent venture.