On Sunday, July 07, 2013 I was joined by Steven and Ben for a long scramble up Resolute Mountain near the White Goat Wilderness north of the North Saskatchewan River valley and up Thompson Creek, just east of Mount Cline.
After a pretty long outing on Friday, we apparently thought we were ready for an even longer outing on Sunday! Resolute is not often summitted, if for no other reason than it's a bloody long day and sits right beside an 11,000er (Cline) so is not seen as a worthy summit. After completing it I can say that it IS worth the long day and the many meters of height gain.
[An early morning photo over Waterfowl Lakes towards Chephren and Howse.]
We started early, anticipating afternoon thunderstorms, at 04:40 from the Thompson Creek bridge (near a campground). The trail on the right side of the creek was obvious even in the pre-dawn light. What also became obvious right away was the recent flood damage to the creek bed and parts of the nearby trail! Almost immediately we were forced off the old trail onto a new one, which was really only beat-down grass at this point. Considering the flood was only 2 week previous, I was impressed that there was a new trail already forming! I think this first section is the shared approach with Cline, so it makes sense that it sees more traffic.
Eventually we had to bail out of the creek due to flooding and debris and we almost immediately found flagging and the track again. I'm calling it a 'track' because from this point it's not always obvious where to go. Basically if you stick to climber's right of the creek and stay high above it (but about 100 vertical meters below any rock bands above), you'll be fine. There are many cairns marking the route up and around a steep hillside (far above the creek here) but even then the track is quite easily lost, especially when you come to the shoulder-high growth in the slide paths!
Once we worked our way along the hillside we saw where the creek splits for the last time, and knew we had to descend and take the left branch. Here we found the track again and followed it up a very steep embankment to access the upper hanging valley above tree line and in sight of the high col, Mount Cline and our destination - Resolute.
[Early morning grass-whacking beside Thompson Creek]
[We've gained a lot of elevation already and can see the North Saskatchewan with Murchison and Corona Ridge in the Alpineglow.]
[Mount Murchison and its impressive Towers]
[Picking our way up the drainage.]
[We can finally see our branch in the distance, the track goes climber's right of the stream.]
[Crossing the branch in the upper stream to the upper hanging valley between Cline and Resolute.]
[Looking back down the wild stream.]
[Glacier Lily - bears love their roots apparently.]
[The faint trail winds through some light forest.]
[The upper hanging valley comes into view as we gain tree line. Lion on upper right and Cline on upper left with the col in the middle.]
[Steven fooling around on a boulder in the valley.]
[Gorgeous scenery all around this area.]
[The upper route is clear now. But it's a LOT further than it looks from here. There are still a few km's just to the col and hundreds of meters of height gain yet.]
[Looking back from the alpine valley.]
[Traversing rubble slopes to the end of the valley.]
[We started to encounter snow in the valley. It looked innocent enough but was rock-hard. Without crampons it was very tricky to cross.]
Once we were above tree line in the upper hanging valley we started to encounter steep snow patches that we either had to cross or avoid by ascending or descending around them. We kicked steps across a few low-angled ones before it was time to don the crampons. The snow was rock-hard and we were all wearing light footwear in anticipation of the long hike so we couldn't easily kick our way across or up the slopes. Ben didn't have crampons and started to look for ways around the snow while Steven and I took full advantage of the great conditions and went straight up to the col on steep, firm snow. I love snow climbing in gullies! So much better than scree slogging up!! After topping out I commented to Steven that Ben was surely 45 minutes behind us. To our great surprise when we gained the broad ridge above the col, Ben was right below us already. We were shocked at how quickly he came up the scree slope and all he had to say in return was, "I gave 'er because I didn't want to slow you guys down"! That's a good line... :)
[Views along Cline's intimidating east face start opening up.]
[Snow is better than scree!]
[Climbing steep snow to access the col.]
[The snow becomes ice.]
[Ben starts up behind us.]
[Incredible views from near the col of Cline and it's nice south ridge. ++]
[Looking north over the Cline / Resolute col at two peaceful tarns nestled under the White Goat peaks.]
[The summit block of Lion. This is actually the false summit that you circumvent to climbers right (higher up).]
[Ben with White Goat peaks in the background.]
[Ben comes up the broad ridge with Cline looming high above him.]
[Steven on the ridge with Troll Peak in the immediate background and Mount Huntington (Cirrus) in the distance.]
[What a day!]
[Steven on the ridge.]
[The ridge has some mild exposure if you go straight up it - which you should!]
The views in all directions were gorgeous, with Cline and the three White Goat peaks stealing the show. We ascended the ridge the whole way to the summit of Lion, except for a brief detour around the false summit. There was some exposure and small 'notches' to deal with but nothing hard. The views kept getting better and better as we went higher and the scrambling on the ridge was good fun. The weather was perfect with some clouds building but no wind and cool temps. 6 hours after leaving the car we were on our first summit of the day.
[The three White Goat peaks from L to R are: Troll, Dasent and Gruff.]
[Cirrus in the distance.]
[Wilson shows up over Cline's shoulder on the right, Forbes at left.]
[Traversing just beneath the true summit.]
[Looking for a way up. We traversed over to climber's right to gain the true summit block. ++]
[Vern on the summit of Lion Peak - false summit visible in foreground]
[Panorama looking north to the White Goat wilderness towards Mount Stewart in the far distance. ++]
[Panorama looking at Cline (left) and east over to Lioness (right). ++]
[A gorgeous day to be in the clouds.]
[Looking down Shoe Leather Creek and over Purple Mountain towards Abraham Lake in the far distance.]
[Clouds cover Murchison now.]
After enjoying the views for a while it was time to traverse over to the second summit of Resolute - Lioness Peak.