I was happy with the outcome of Friday's scramble up Devil's Thumb and instantly began planning another objective for Sunday. As the weekend progressed, the weather deteriorated for the Bow Lake area and soon the date slipped to Monday. I didn't want to go Monday due to the expected hordes of folks returning to Calgary after a long weekend of camping so Kaycie and I agreed that we'd get up at 04:45 and try to be off the mountain by around noon - hopefully beating the mad rush from Banff / Canmore to YYC.
We started from the Bow Lake parking lot in crisp, cool air at around 08:00 and were soon looking at our ascent slope from the trail. We donned Gore-tex jackets and pants to fend off the dew-soaked vegetation and proceeded to make our way up the easy bushwhack to more open avalanche slopes half way to the lower cliff band. The lower slopes on Jimmy Junior are bushy but it's Alberta bush, in other words not really "bush". :) The route was sort of obvious and we ended up more or less following a shallow drainage which became an obvious drainage the higher we went. Raf told me he'd seen a Grizzly up near the lower cliff band so we made sure to do lots of yelling on our way up.
[Kaycie on the Bow Falls trail with Jimmy Jr. at upper right.]
[Obligatory shot of Bow Lake from the shoreline trail, which we followed for about 5 minutes. ++]
[Can this really be considered "bushwhacking"? It's more like "bush hiking".]
[Hints of the views to come from the drainage.]
[It's a bit of a grunt to get to treeline, but nothing worth complaining about and look behind us here. It's going to be worth it!]
The views started opening up behind us almost immediately after reaching the main drainage and exiting the thicker bush. Of course, as we worked our way higher, the views only kept improving and distracting us. As we broke treeline, I could see an obvious break in the first cliff band on its SE end and we contoured back around towards it, avoiding the low Krumholtz that was blocking a direct line from our drainage. As usual, once we got closer to the break it was even easier than we first thought and soon we were standing on top of the cliff band, looking down on Bow Lake and taking in the gorgeous morning scene around us.
[As we near the thinner top of the avy slope, the views start to really open up behind us.]
[The break in the lower cliff band is obvious at left.]
[Looking SE across the slope we traversed above to avoid the Krumholtz. We ascended the slopes at left, not the center one. The break through the cliff band is at right. ++]
[Kaycie is enjoying the beautiful morning.]
[Kaycie stands on the south end of the ridge above the low cliffs with a grand view over Bow Lake. ++]
From the top of the first cliff bands the route to the summit was obvious, follow the south ridge up! So that's what we did. We ventured a bit further west to take in a gorgeous little tarn and some waterfalls in the gully to our left but other than that, we stuck right to the ridge which included some easy scrambling on fairly solid rock. Near the very top there was another easy scrambling move or two to get up the summit block from which we wandered to the apex cairn exclaiming at the wonderful views that continued to open up in every direction.
[The rest of the route up is obvious - follow the ridge.]
[Apparently folks have gone up this drainage, just west of the south ridge of Jimmy Jr. in order to access this peak but it's not recommended due to loose terrain. It is lovely to photograph though. The hiking route to Bow Falls and approach to the Bow Hut is visible just left of center here. ++]
[The south ridge starts off very broad and open to amazing views.]
[The terrain is easy hiking at this point.]
[The lovely tarn between Jimmy and Jr. is visible as the terrain becomes more scrambly. Iceberg Lake is also visible at far right in the distance. ++]
[The terrain gets a bit more interesting near the top.]
[Looking back down the spine of the south ridge.]
[Kaycie is tiny in the huge terrain around Bow Lake. Iceberg Lake visible here with The Onion rising above it and St. Nicholas above that. Olive to the left and Gordon to the right.]
[The short, easy, scrambling bit just before the summit.]
[KC approaches the short scrambling step.]
[Looking down the step.]
I enjoyed pointing out many peaks that I've summitted on the Wapta and across hwy 93 to Kaycie. Lots of good memories in the Bow Lake area! After enjoying the views for around 30 minutes we decided to head down as clouds were starting to build already and as indicated earlier, we really wanted to avoid the long weekend return traffic to YYC. We took a bit of a shortcut down from near the summit on the east scree slope which sped things up a bit. From there we retraced our ascent line to the parking lot. Our round trip time was 4:20 including a few nice breaks.
[KC approaches the summit. ++]
[Great views east and south over Bow Lake include (L to R), Observation, Cirque, Dolomite, Andromache, Bow, Crowfoot and Vulture among many others of course. ++]
[Looking towards the Wapta, visible peaks include Vulture, Balfour (in clouds), Olive, St. Nicholas and now Gordon is also in clouds. The peak at right is Portal Peak and you can see the loose, steep cliffs that must be scrambled before contouring around its south slopes before ascending crumbly west slopes to the summit. ++]
[Molar Mountain has a very distinctive shape.]
[Dolomite Peak is also very distinctive.]
[A tele-pano of Olive, St. Nicholas, Gordon and Portal (L to R). ++]
[Little Crowfoot is an excellent ski objective in winter.]
[Iceberg Lake at the toe of the Bow Glacier is a major source of water for Bow Lake and Calgary. It's also a lovely hiking destination that is harder to access than you'd think due to several river crossings that aren't bridged. ++]
[Bow Peak rises over the south end of Bow Lake and Crowfoot Pass to its right.]
[Recondite Peak just shows up to the east. ++]
[Willingdon and Crown Peak are lovely 11,000ers to the east.]
[Caldron Peak rises to the north of Jimmy Jr.]
[KC on the summit.]
[Another shot of KC and the wonderful views. ++]
[Coming down the loose easy scrambling section just under the summit.]
[We shortcut the south ridge here (L), descending the open scree slopes on the east side of it.]
[Spot the Marmot? (lower right)]
[Lovely terrain in the drainage between Jimmy and Jimmy Jr.]
[Can't get enough of the views even though it's getting cloudier. ++]
[Looking down the easy access chute in the lower cliff band.]
[One last view from just below the cliffs before descending back to Bow Lake. The lower cliff access is at right via the obvious scree gully. ++]
Jimmy Jr. is a nice short outing, close to a major highway with mind blowing views that doesn't see that many visitors compared to many other peaks in the area. It gets skied quite a bit in the winter but you shouldn't avoid it when it's free of snow either - the views of Bow Lake are worth the short hike and it competes with its neighbor, Jimmy Simpson for views despite being much shorter and easier.