On Saturday, September 20th 2008, Keith, JW and I scrambled up Mount Bosworth in beautiful, sunny weather - the summer weather we never had in 2008! Originally we were supposed to be making an attempt at North Victoria Peak on this day but since the weather forecast was pretty good we decided to wait for a cloudy day to enjoy that 11,000er.
(In case you're having a slow day and missed the sarcasm, there was actually other reasons for not attempting North Vic this day. I was still sore from my Mistaya / Cauldron outing on Wednesday and JW was feeling a bit gun-shy after a close call with falling rock on Mount Louis that same Wednesday. Maybe very fortunate timing because a friend did Narao Peak on Saturday and claimed to see fresh avalanche evidence right near the rock step on North Victoria.)
We all met in Calgary and JW drove through Banff and then 2.3 km past the Yoho National Park sign before parking alongside the highway. The weather was gorgeous already this early in the morning and we could tell that we were going to have a very nice day for this late in the season. The first challenge was figuring out which gully was the actual ascent gully. There was a choice of two and we chose the left one, knowing that it was probably not the Kane route, but liking the way the rock looked. It was solid and steep. In keeping with our Fisher Peak policy, difficult scrambles can be made easier if you first go up some terrain (off route) below the crux that is actually harder than the crux! The crux seems less of a big deal that way. This was no different. I followed JW up some low 5th class rock. Eventually, after two or three small rock bands, we worked our way climber's right onto the normal Kane route and then up and around the first buttress below the ridge on Bosworth.
Bosworth is a fun mountain, but horribly loose. The day after we climbed it there was a rockfall in the area that covered the trans-Canada highway. We probably started that slide on Saturday already! You'd think with all the avalanches that run off it in the winter, the loose rock would be off by now, but such is not the case. Don't do this mountain with a large group - you'll regret it.
After the first buttress, we traversed rubbly slopes under another buttress (I like the word buttress in case you didn't notice) before angling up towards the ridge. Once on the ridge we pretty much climbed over any other obstacles (upper moderate to difficult scrambling) before coming to the final black cliff defending the summit. This final bit was exposed and difficult scrambling but was very solid compared to the rest of this heap of choss! We really enjoyed all the difficult scrambling on Bosworth because it felt safer than the moderate / loose terrain - you just couldn't fall on the difficult stuff. The views were stunning the whole way up - although slightly marred by smoke / haze. As you get higher and higher (and I'm not referring to the weed that the boys from Golden were smoking at the summit here), you get better views of Cathedral, Stephen, Victoria, Collier, Daly, the Wapta peaks, Hector and other summits.
We finished the climb with a "Mount Cline lunge" (interesting notch in the ridge) and settled in for a long summit stay since it was warm and windless at the cairn. The views had the potential to be some of the best around, even though Bosworth is relatively short compared to all of its neighbors, but the smoke or haze ruined the panorama a bit. We took our time exploring the summit area (so who put that stupid 'Permit' sign there anyway?!) and reading the register. Apparently there are a few ways up and down this heap of rock - none sounded quite as much fun as our route up though.
After 1.5 hours (that's the record for me this summer) at the top we reluctantly headed back. At first we tried the gully right under the summit but it was very loose with slabby terrain and just wasn't fun so we traversed back to the ridge and down climbed our ascent route. JW and Keith insisted that we try the gully further to the east than the Kane gully (OK, maybe it was my suggestion) so we ended up doing a bit more side-hilling and bushwhacking than necessary on the way back. At least we saw a cool waterfall and drank some clean, cold steam water on the way back! The fall colors were also more prominent in our descent gully than on the way up. One very weird discovery on the way down left us a bit puzzled. What was a 7 iron doing on the descend route? Keith found it and I lugged it down on my backpack. This mountain seems to be a bit of a dumping ground for random bits of park trash! The summit has a "Permit" sign and some wire and re-bar, and the descent route has golf clubs?! Hmmm.
My advice would be to follow our route up small cliff bands on the lower mountain (there were some cairns so we aren't the only ones to go this way) and the Kane route down this lower section. If you are uncomfortable on the lower section of 'our' route, you should just turn around - you certainly won't like the upper mountain! Traversing too far skiers left on the way down is only complicating things unnecessarily, something I've learned to love this year! Mount Bosworth is a highly recommended scramble, lots of hands-on scrambling and views that are hard to beat with no approach and a short day.
Amazing fall colors on the approach to the cliff bands.
The cliff bands were mercifully solid, but steep and difficult scrambling in places. It turns out that we went climbers left of the Kane route on our ascent and skiers left of the Kane route on our descent.
Between cliff bands. We aimed climbers right here and broke through the upper cliff band in the upper center of the photograph where you can spot a weakness. There were some cairns in this area.
Scree bash, back on the Kane route.
Cool chunk of rock - could see right through it.
JW on the upper ridge of Bosworth with Mount Stephen in the background.
Keith explores a cool section of the ridge (and also slightly over hanging...).
JW approaching the black cliff guarding the summit. We scrambled right over the buttress before the black cliff band and got to experience way more difficult (but solid) scrambling that way.
JW clowning around. What you can't see is how he pulled off this pose!
The terrain is steep and loose on the upper mountain - but you get the occasional solid piece.
JW just pulled out a rappel / belay pin with fresh cord attached to it. It wasn't very hard to pull out. A good reminder to triple check your anchors in the Canadian Chossies.
The "Cline move". I didn't get a good shot of the exposure, but it's not quite a "Cline exposure" here. Of course we're also not on a rope! JW's legs are bloody long because I tried doing what he is here and there was no way I could stretch that far! :-)
Cathedral Mountain and Craigs as seen from the summit of Mount Bosworth.
JW reads the register.
That's where we were supposed to be! North Victoria Peak. You can just barely make out a fracture line in the snow around the rock step on the upper slopes. Maybe a good thing we weren't there?
Mount Hector and Little Hector.
Mounts Carnarvon, President and Vice President.
Unnamed and Mount Daly.
The President and Vice President show up through the Permits sign. Don't ask...
Keith, Vern and JW at the summit of Mount Bosworth.
Wide-angle shot into the Bath Creek Valley.
The descent gully is not cool.
This is much more exposed but also much more solid! This is where the anchor was used (or at least placed) on.
This is both steep AND loose! From this angle, Keith is nuts to be standing there and I'm even more nuts to be standing where I am taking this picture!
More steep traversing.
Heading back down to the highway on loose scree. We should have stayed in this gully but we ventured skiers left above the trees on the slope to the left.
Too far left but at least we have colors and a stream!
Even some small waterfalls to break the monotony of rough terrain.
I love fall in the mountains. It doesn't last long enough though.
A look at the avi gully from our parking spot. We went straight up the left gully / cliff bands and then traversed out to climbers right once we were above the third one (contoured around that black buttress - fourth bump from the top right of the photo.). The Kane route goes up the next gully to the right of ours and our descent route came out of the far right-hand gully.