After struggling up Old Baldy in more snow than I was expecting I started the traverse over to McDougall - against my own better judgment I should hastily add! The ridge looked fairly straight forward but the amount of snow combined with the total elevation gain wasn't looking attractive.
I descended the steep scree slope in snow up to knee deep and continued the traverse to the first bump. I ascended the bump no problem and continued on to GR362405 - a higher bump before the final slog to McDougall. Nugara says that the traverse from Old Baldy to McDougall should take about an hour. It looks much farther from Old Baldy but even with snow and slippery conditions it took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to do the whole traverse.
[Descending the traverse after avoiding a steep slab on my way over to McDougall from Old Baldy - this is looking back up to Old Baldy.]
[The ridge looks pretty serious, especially with snow on it but it wasn't too bad. I have to ascend two intervening bumps before finally getting to McDougall. ++]
[The ridge is easy for the most part, with some short exposed sections.]
[Looking north towards Old Baldy (right) and out to the west (C) from the a bump on the ridge traverse to McDougall. ++]
[Looking towards the summit which is easy from here!]
[Final slope to the summit of McDougall - a little less snow for some reason.]
[Looking back along my approach ridge to Old Baldy. ++]
[Chester, Fortress, Gusty, Galatea, Tower (L to R) from the summit.]
[Looking west and north with Old Baldy on the right. I could have descended down the west slope (left) but then I'd have to bushwhack out of the valley in knee-deep snow. Instead, I was hoping to descend the ridge in the center of the photo to the left and then off the end of it to rejoin my uptrack but that didn't work out. ++]
[Looking east and south off the summit of McDougall. From right to left includes the Opal Range, Fisher, Howard, Fullerton, Compression Ridge, Bryant and others. ++]
[Looking over Mount Allan and the Nakiska ski resort to Sparrowhawk in clouds on the left and the four distinctive peaks of Mount Lougheed including, Wind, Lougheed III, Lougheed II (main) and Lougheed I.]
[From left to right, Bogart, Ribbon and Sparrowhawk loom over Mount Kidd Junior.]
[Looking towards the eastern Kananaskis peaks including Compression Ridge and Mount Bryant.]
[Snow squalls are moving in over Barrier Lake with Baldy, Midnight and Midday Peaks to the right.]
["Volcano Peak" is in the foreground, just right of center and looks tiny from here. Peaks in the distance include everything from the Opal Range at left to Sir Douglas and King George in the far distance to the Chester Lake peaks at far right. ++]
[A possible escape route but I'm worried about all the fresh snow.]
After snapping photos of the gorgeous snow covered peaks in the Kananaskis Valley and front country I had a decision to make. I decided quickly that I didn't feel like messing with a steep unknown route down the west side of McDougall and also didn't feel like wading through the snow in the valley below. I traversed back to GR362405 (first bump on the return to Old Baldy) and began the traverse to GR357404 instead. The traverse started out OK and slowly became more serious until I found myself looking down at an exposed and slippery slab with nothing but air underneath. Under dry conditions I would have attempted it but being solo and given the water ice on the slabs I reluctantly turned around and slogged back up the ridge...
[The orange line is where I was hoping to descend, but I got turned back part way along that rib, somewhere above the "D".]
[Traversing back along the ridge to Old Baldy.]
[More height loss down the ridge.]
[Looking back up McDougall from the ridge that I tried traversing. I was turned back after the bump you see straight ahead of me here. ++]
[Turning back on the rib - I have to regain all this height to the ridge before turning left to Old Baldy.]
[One more glance down the rib as I back track.]
By now I'd been on the move for hours on end of snow slogging and was starting to get a bit tired of the peak bagging game. I decided to try one more thing before I'd give up and re-climb Old Baldy. I've had good luck with following sheep lately so I thought I'd try following goat tracks across the south face of Old Baldy. This worked for about 10 minutes but goats apparently don't mind water iced slabby rock with exposure! Crap! I really didn't feel it but I had no more choices. I had to re-climb Old Baldy!
[I tried following goat tracks to the right here - to no avail! I could have maybe descended the slopes under me but with the snow and ice and the fading daylight it wasn't worth the risk, considering I was solo. ++]
[My tracks which followed a goat trail to the right but I had to turn back again before giving up and heading up to the main ridge which is above me to the right here.]
I took a while to ascend the 300 meters to the summit ridge of Old Baldy but eventually I made it and followed my tracks down the mountain. I was a bit frustrated again on the way back - I still couldn't find the right trail with the all the fresh snow and ended up side-hilling and bushwhacking a bit before descending enough to have less snow and a good trail again.
[Urgh!!! I have to re-ascend almost to the summit of Old Baldy thanks to the slab cliffs and the upthrust on the left!]
[Looking back at my tracks ascending almost to the summit of Old Baldy on return. The rib beneath me here is the one where I followed goat tracks before running into ice / snow covered slabs and giving up any thoughts of an efficient exit!]
[Finally on top of Old Baldy again - looking back at the traverse and McDougall left of center.]
[More obstacles on the ridge, descending my Old Baldy ascent tracks now.]
[Back in the snow gully that I ascended from the McDougall Tarn in the morning.]
[Finally off the ridge! Looking back up ascent slopes to Old Baldy.]
[The day is getting late as I work my way through light bush to the broad and easy Evan-Thomas Creek trail.]
[A pleasant walk back to the truck on the Evan-Thomas trail.]
Overall the day was wonderful, with some really amazing views, but at 20km of hiking / scrambling and 1800ish meters of height gain it wasn't an easy stroll, that's for sure! I recommend this trip for drier conditions than I had. :)