On Saturday April 12, 2008 I joined Wietse and Keith on a tramp up the east ridge of Yamnuska, down into the CMC valley and then up the southeast ridge of the East Peak of Wendell.
[I was a bit early for the morning meeting place so I snapped this shot of the mountains from near the Cochrane / Hwy #1 turn off. ++]
The forecast for the day was for highs around 20 degrees and sunny. This is the only reason we decided to go for this trudge instead of staying home and watching the Masters... ;-) Seriously though, this is not a trip for the easily bored or casual peak bagger. You'd be much better off bagging a different front-range peak if you are not serious about attaining lofty (ok this one's not even lofty...) heights.
[Wietse and Keith head up the trail on a beautiful morning. It really felt like spring.]
[Yamnuska looks majestic - it's been a while since I've gone up that one.]
While the CMC valley has some very interesting and beautiful scenery, so do most other hikes I've done in the Rockies. The hike up the east ridge of Yamnuska is kind of depressing because it's so worn out and dirty. Once over the ridge (make sure you make your way almost to the start of the scrambling section on Yam) you should turn to climber's right at the first big meadow on the north side of the ridge. I've tried to find this meadow for a while and we never went up the ridge towards the scramble route far enough. As a matter of fact, we were busy heading back down the ridge to the east because we thought we were off route, when we ran into 5 people, also heading into the CMC valley! They quickly assured us that we were in fact supposed to go further west along the ridge, so we gamely turned around and followed that group.
[Finding our way into the CMC Valley with Wendell in the bg.]
[East Peak of Wendell (L) and Association Peak (R).]
[You can make out the trail into the CMC valley. From left to right you can see Morrowmount and the main peak of Wendell Mountain with the East Peak of Wendell on the right.]
The group we met was planning on tackling the difficult route on EPOW as detailed in Andrew's book. Wietse and I both agreed that they would need some good luck on a difficult Nugara route with snow and ice on it! :-) (As it turns out the group did not make it to the summit.)
[Nice views back to Old Fort Peak.]
[Interesting canyon features along the south face of EPOW.]
[Wietse and Keith with the imposing walls of the EPOW rising above them, reflecting the warm morning light.]
We had an enjoyable time scouting out the giant rocks next to the CMC wall. It's almost tempting to go back with rock shoes, those rocks have some fun little lines on them! I said almost worth it! That whole area back there probably deserves more rock climbing focus. It's difficult to get in there but once you're in, you're on your own for the most part. There look to be a lot of routes too.
[Interesting terrain around the south side of EPOW.]
[More interesting terrain - looking east along the south cliff face.]
[Keith and Wietse hike along the south cliff face of EPOW.]
[Keith does some bouldering.]
[More fun terrain around the south cliffs.]
[The snow made things interesting when we walked through this boulder field.]
We traversed around the base of the cliffs to the east side of the mountain and then proceeded on snow and rock to an interesting slabby section. This was a pretty cool little traverse up angled slabs along the base of a cliff. If you didn't know that there was a route through this section you'd be wondering why you were bothering trying it - thanks to the first people who bothered, you don't have to worry!
[Coming around the west end of the EPOW. The group ahead of us continued up this valley to the col between the main peak and the ridge coming of the EPOW.]
[Grunting up to the upper cliffs on scree.]
[Keith and Wietse head up to the cliff traverse. Bob went climber's right to avoid the slabby bit.]
[The slabby section by the cliffs, just before getting up onto the final ridge to the summit. Good thing there wasn't more ice here or we may have regretted not bringing the crampons!]
The rest of the route was the best of the day both for views and for terrain, with some moderate exposure and some very pleasant ridge walking. The summit sported a great view and we spent quite some time watching the other group struggle towards the difficult section of the alternate ascent.
[Keith comes up behind me with great views of Yamnuska in the bg.]
[Keith contemplates the final section. This was the part that was by far the most enjoyable with clear skies, good views and warm temps.]
[It was strange to see a 737 jet flying this low over the Bow Valley. It kept looping around so I think it must have been some kind of training exercise.]
[You can just spot Wietse coming up the ridge. A nice panorama is starting to open up behind him.]
Eventually a couple of local scramblers joined us at the summit. Both Rob and Chris were familiar names from the RMBooks web board but we had never met them so that was cool. You can see Rob's trip report here.
[Keith comes up to the broad summit of EPOW with Moose Mountain and Yamnuska in the bg.]
[Can you see the other group nearing the bottom of the Nugara route? (Hint: bottom right corner - look for the person on the snow.)]
[Mountains along the front ranges to the south.]
[Summit panorama looking west includes Townsend, Epic Tower, Wendell, Morrowmount, Fable, Big Sister, Gap Peak, Old Fort, Lougheed, Bogart, Old Goat (R to L). ++]
[Another panorama looking west and north includes, Association Peak, End, Orient Point and Saddle (R to L). ++]
[I think that's Epic or Mystique Towers in the upper left corner of this image (that's according to Rob Eastick). With that kind of name, I want to try scrambling that one. The upper right is Mount Townsend.]
[Great view of Wendell to the west with Morrowmount, Mystique Tower and Townsend (L to R) in the bg.]
[The other party takes a break. I'm not sure that they made it much further than this.]
[Wietse and Keith descended a bit to the wide plateau just below the summit of EPOW to get out of the wind. I wanted to get some photos of the other group on the difficult traverse to the summit but they never did start their traverse while I was watching. Rob and Chris have caught up to us and are chatting with the others before joining me on the summit. You can see the casino under development at the hwy 40 Kananaskis turn off in the distance.]
[Starting our trek back down - Yamnuska and Old Goat (R) in the bg.]
[Looking back at the summit ridge as we descend.]
[Ginger steps required here as you don't want to slip while descending the slab.]
[Enjoying a break on the way down EPOW.]
[Fall colors in the spring? Hmmm. Descending around the west end of the shoulder of EPOW back in the CMC Valley.]
[The cliffs are impressive in the bg.]
[Interesting path back down from Yamnuska's shoulder.]
The hike back was a bit long and quite nasty going back over the east ridge of Yamnuska, but the weather was gorgeous and the sky was clear so all-in-all this was a nice spring scramble and it felt quite good to get back into it again.