After reading Bob Spirko's and So Nakagawa's trip reports on Mount Lougheed I really wanted to give it a go in 2012. For some reason it's already been a pretty popular peak with other's this year so I knew it was in good shape. When Wietse and Kevin Papke were throwing around the idea of heading out on Sunday, July 22nd I proposed peaks II and III of Mount Lougheed and they quickly agreed.
Why didn't I also include peak I and do the traverse? I'm not sure. I wasn't really in the mood to challenge the "5th class terrain" just under peak II and didn't have the energy for the whole traverse. I'll do peak I as a separate scramble another day. Kevin already had peak I too, so he wasn't motivated to repeat it either.
After hiking Headwall Lakes in crappy weather the day before, I was delighted with the clear, crisp air and the wonderful forecast for Sunday. We found Spencer Creek and the trail following it on climber's left without any issues (11km past the Goat Pond bridge from Canmore). The trail was very pleasant and I enjoyed sticking well behind Wietse and Kev and taking pictures of the flowers and just enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery.
[Gorgeous carpets of moss near Spencer Creek.]
[Twinflowers are one of my favorite small flora.]
[These are called White Camas.]
[A waterfall coming into Spencer Creek.]
[The trail stays out of the creek on climber's left.]
[A lovely summer morning.]
[It's hard not to simply lollygag around these meadows all day rather than bother with the hot and sweaty business of peak bagging!]
As we approached tree line and the end of the trail the route finding became a wee bit tougher - but not much. The sublime hanging valley which is tucked between Lougheed II and III and Wind Mountain and the north face of Sparrowhawk was the highlight of the day for me. This great little spot reminded me of some of my favorite scrambles / bivies including Mount Ball and even my all time favorite, the Mount Chephren bivy location. Carpets of wildflowers and bright green meadows greeted us as we worked our way higher along the upper environs of Spencer Creek.
[Looking over carpets of wild flowers down Spencer Creek and our approach route.]
[Kev comes up the rocky drainage of Spencer Creek.]
[Spencer Creek has carved an interesting niche in the upper hanging valley.]
[I could live in this valley forever! Wind Mountain directly ahead here.]
[More meadows - we would descend this slope from directly ahead, we climbed it out of sight to the left here.]
[We are tiny compared to the huge wall of rock coming off Mount Sparrowhawk.]
[Looking up the scree slope we must ascend before crossing over to climber's right.]
We started up the grassy slopes on the southwest flank of Lougheed II and soon were topping out on an upper bench with the scree cone clearly visible. The rest of the route closely followed Nugara's description and we all agreed that the ascent route for Lougheed II doesn't go much above easy scrambling if you're on route with good conditions.
[It's a heckuva grunt!]
[Looking down the scree cone - note the green meadows far below! Sparrowhawk looming to the south.]
[Wietse searches for the trail that eventually goes climber's right to gain the upper ridge.]
[Getting into cliffs now.]
[Starting to trend right, sticking to easy terrain - note the pinnacle high above us.]
[Threading our way up through low cliffs.]
[Wietse and Kevin approach the only real scramble on this peak and it can be avoided on the right.]
[Not as hard as it looks - note the large cairn at the top.]
[Looking back at Sparrowhawk from above the crux - note the large cairn.]
[A chopper flies through the bowl between us and Sparrowhawk.]
[The upper mountain is easy but still a scree grunt to the peak.]
[Looking back across the slope we traversed. ++]
[Damn! This mountain is high!]
[Starting to get some nice views looking south at Spray Lakes.]
[Summit views over Nestor (L) and Old Goat (R) to Assiniboine, Eon and Aye.]
[Wietse heads for the summit at right, Lougheed I at left. ++]
[Incredible summit views south, west and north include (L to R), Sparrowhawk, Spray Lakes, Nestor, Old Goat, Big Sister, Rimwall, Windtower and Lougheed I. ++]
[Traversing the summit ridge, looking towards the front ranges. ++]
[Looking along the scary ridge to Lougheed I]
[At the summit looking over Lougheed I with Canmore at lower right. Kind of neat to have the Spray Valley on the left and Bow Valley on the right. ++]
[Great views to the west over Spray Lakes. ++]
[Nestor and Old Goat in the fg, Aye, Eon and the mighty Mount Assiniboine beyond.]
[Mount Sir Douglas with King George in the far distance.]
[Peaks as far away as Mount Ball (C) show up on this clear day. ++]
[Looking along the ridge to Lougheed II and Wind Mountain. ++]
After enjoying a great view and a bite to eat (and forgetting to sign the register!) we continued down to Lougheed III from the summit.