After big days on Akamina Ridge / Forum Peak and then Newman, Spionkop and Avion we were ready for a third big day on Sunday, June 21 2009.
Since Wietse and I wanted to be back on time (it was Father's day after all!) in Calgary we decided to get up at 4:45 and be hiking by around 6-6:30 after having breakfast, cleaning up camp and driving to the Red Rock Canyon trailhead parking area.
Just like the Snowshoe Trail, the Blakiston Creek Trail is probably a good candidate for your bike, if you have one. Unlike the Snowshoe Trail, this one is quite scenic and does a better job of distracting you from your aching feet, assuming you've already done 5 peaks and about 40km in the previous 2 days! ;-)
We hadn't seen any bears while hiking yet on this 3 day trip, which is just as surprising as the lack of wind we were continuing to experience. Waterton is literally crawling with both Black and Grizzly Bears and on any given visit you are pretty guaranteed to run into some bruins on the trails. Hiking next to a rush creek seemed to open up a bear encounter so we continued our practice of yelling "hey bear" every 50-100 meters. This method certainly seems to work because I've never surprised a bear or any other intimidating animal while practicing "safe yelling" in the mountains.
Again I was glad I had a map and after the second major drainage crossing I knew that the third was our way up Anderson. On hindsight we should have just headed up that third drainage as soon as we crossed the creek because we ended up traversing from Nugara's photo location to climber's right, towards that creek, anyway but Andrew's directions worked fine too. The lower slopes of Anderson are covered in a blanket of low shrubs and trees, making the first 30 minutes sweaty and sore. The weather was very warm but the clouds were already starting to build. The lack of wind was becoming downright disturbing - maybe global warming? :-)
One thing you should know about Anderson Peak. It's a LONGGGGGG way up from the Blakiston Creek Trail. I know it doesn't really look like it but when Nugara says it's a foreshortened slope you should believe him 'cause it is! After gaining about 400 meters of vertical elevation it looked like we 'only' had another 300 to go but my altimeter watch said otherwise! (It was more like 500 to the col and 700 to the peak!)
We took a route up that trended climber's right. This worked really well as I kicked steps up about 250 vertical meters on a nice snow slope. Again, the ridge looked like it was right there, but it wasn't! We had to scramble up some horrible scree and then some fun hands-on stuff before I finally popped out near Anderson's northern outlier, about 50 vertical meters higher and a few hundred meters away from the col beneath the true summit hump.
The clouds were really starting to come in now and I could barely make out the summit. I was on my own and decided to at least wait for one other member of our group to catch up before heading off in the clouds and mist. The weather was warm enough for thunderstorms but we hadn't heard any booming yet so I wasn't too worried about that. I waited for about 15 minutes before spotting two and then three figures coming over the ridge. At that point I headed up the last 150 vertical meters to the summit of Mount Anderson, which was covered in a thick layer of cloud.
Soon the others joined me on the summit. I was getting a bit concerned about the darkening sky and since I was feeling great I told the others that I was waiting till the summit of Lost to eat lunch. Keith and Anne (Speedy)-Marie stayed at the summit of Anderson for a few minutes while Wietse and I continued on to Lost Mountain.
Sunday starts off very pleasant!
Even the flowers are into it...
Hiking beside Blakiston Creek means a lot of bear-yelling:
Ascent gully from the trail:
Ascent gully once you've bashed through the first 100 meters of undergrowth! :-) We ascended to the right of the falls but others have gone left - more difficult terrain is left.
This snow patch looks small. It's actually at least 250 vertical meters of gain! The ridge is at least 400 vertical meters yet from this point which means the peak is still over 550 vertical meters from here.
A view back as we climb higher:
The snow made travel easy and quite fast but we ended up going too far along the ridge and had to lose height before getting back to the summit mass:
Looking ahead to the summit mass - covered in cloud:
Anne-Marie coming down the ridge:
Vern on the summit of Anderson Peak:
Keith and Wietse slog up to the summit:
The cliffs are impressive just below the summit:
Everyone on the summit:
Summit panorama (click to view full size):
Keith and Anne-Marie on the summit of Anderson Peak:
Heading down Anderson Peak and towards Lost Mountain: