For some reason, I've wanted to scramble Mount Hood for quite a while already. So when Wietse and Kelly were thinking of which scramble to do around the Kananaskis Lakes area I was quick to suggest that one and invite myself along. We set out at around 08:00 from the King Creek parking lot on a gorgeous July 19 2008. Many previous trip reports on this mountain indicate that people have a tendency to get lost on the approach. We briefly considered ascending King Creek Ridge first and then descending the 200 meters to the saddle between KKR and Mount Hood just to avoid the hassles but after reading Dow William's trip report we decided that if the creek wasn't ridiculously high we would just follow it.
The creek wasn't ridiculously high so we set off. The air was remarkably crisp for late July. We ran into frost on the ground almost right away. This wasn't a big concern except for all the trees we had to balance across the creek on! They were very slick because of the thick dew and frost - thank goodness for hiking poles. After about 10 creek crossings that were all quite reasonable we came to the fork in the creek. Following the left one (north) we encountered no major difficulties up to the headwall. There is a trail that crisscrosses the creek but technically you don't really need it, especially for the first bit. You should never be far from the creek and whatever else you do, do NOT follow trails or cairns that lead away from the creek until you are at the headwall.
The headwall is very obvious. By the time you reach it you should be looking up at the summit of King Creek Ridge on your left and the saddle straight ahead of you. Up to your right Mount Hood and the scramble route up. The grassy slopes on the left side of the headwall are the best way to get above it. These slopes are a great way to gain height very quickly and the views get better and better the higher you go. Opal Mountain and the whole Opal Range are amazing as usual, and the green color of the valley running alongside this mountain range is stunning. We had a blue sky with puffy white clouds which made the views extra special.
[This is as bad as the bushwhacking got. Not too bad!]
[This is the headwall. Go up the climbers left and then straight for that 'dirt patch' you can see in the photo - it's actually brown scree.]
We reached the scree cone that leads up to the base of the scramble route and ground our way up it fairly quickly too. There were smatterings of a trail here and lots of sheep sign. Once at the base of the cliffs and slabs that lead to the Hood / Brock col we found a trail heading up to climber's left. We followed this trail and eventually ended up traversing to the right as indicated in Kane's book. We actually trended a bit too far to the right because when I popped out on the Hood / Brock 'col' I was actually on a knife-edge ridge! This was difficult scrambling that reminded me of the rock fin on Compression Ridge but much shorter. I safely negotiated this ridge to the real col and joined Wietse and Kelly who had done a slightly better job of route finding.
[The view starts to open up a bit as we grind our way up the steep, grassy slopes. King Creek Ridge is in the immediate background. (Kane's 'unnamed ridge to the west...)]
[Hiking up from the col.]
[At the Hood / Brock col, Wietse surveys the mountains to the east. Brock rises up in the background. We're already higher than Opal Peak.]
From here there was roughly 250 vertical meters of easy scrambling just under the ridge leading to the summit. I'm sure you could follow the ridge but there was such an obvious trail just below it to the east that we couldn't resist following that instead. The summit was quite cold but the views more than made up for the temperatures and we lingered there for almost a full hour, just enjoying the scenery.
[Kelly and Wietse on the summit of Mount Hood.]
[Amazing view looking towards the Kananaskis Lakes over King Creek Ridge and Opal Peak.]
[I kept thinking that this amazing mountain deserves a name! It looks so inviting. It's unofficial title is "Evan-Thomas East" but I think it can do better.]
[Vern, Kelly and Wietse on the summit of Mount Hood.]
[Vern with Mount Packenham in the background.]
[Panorama looking east and south from the summit of Mount Hood. ++]
[Panorama looking west and north from the summit of Mount Hood - Kananaskis Lakes visible left of center. ++]
The descent was quick and uneventful. We arrived at the cars for a total time of 7:41 including an hour at the summit and many stops along the way (especially on the way out to dunk our heads in the creek). I loved this scramble and would highly recommend it - just stick to the creek on the ascent!
[Kelly gets ready to leave the chilly summit.]
[Mount King George tries to show himself.]
[Mount Joffre and some of the Aster Lake area peaks.]
[The dramatic east face of Brock with Tombstone Mountain in the background.]
[Wietse and Kelly survey the descent route from the Hood / Brock col.]
[Descending loose, chossy terrain. Hey this is the Rockies - get used to it!]
[Some unintended upper moderate scrambling because we didn't traverse far enough to skiers right while descending. Oooops.]
[Gorgeous green and blue earth tones in this area. This is looking towards Little Packenham and Grizzly Peak.]
[The summit of King Creek Ridge is about 200 vertical meters above the saddle and can be easily climbed from here for a two peak day. Wild flowers abound here.]
[Another view of the headwall with Mount Hood on the left and Mount Brock on the right.]
[Wietse and Kelly descend back into the King Creek valley.]
[Kelly hikes out along King Creek.]