King Creek Ridge
After scrambling up Mount Romulus the day before, I was in the mood for something a bit tamer on Saturday, November 04 2007. Originally Wietse and I were going to give Mist Mountain a shot, after reading a trip report from the previous week. We wanted to tackle this peak from the hiking route because of the late season conditions.
On the drive up highway 40 we stopped to take some pictures of the gorgeous sunrise on the surrounding Kananaskis Mountains. The wind was quite intense already in the early morning hours and we found ourselves second guessing our objective for the day. I wasn't sure that I was in the mood for 1300 meters elevation gain only to be stuck with no views (the clouds were covering all the higher peaks already) and we were both not convinced that we wanted to do the hiking route anyway. As we were barreling down the highway I suddenly had a thought (hey - it can happen to anyone). Why not bag Kind Creek Ridge? Wietse always mentions it every time we drive past because of a failed winter attempt with Antri a year before. Wietse thought it was a great idea and soon we were parked across from the Kananaskis Lakes turnoff and making our way to the base of the ridge.
I really didn't have any big expectations for this short hike but found myself very pleasantly surprised by it. First of all, the weather cooperated beautifully! The sun came out in bursts of light that made photographing the surrounding landscapes a lot of fun. The wind was blocked by the line of mountains to the west (at least till we were on the ridge top) and the scrambling on the lower section of the ridge was quite fun. You might wonder why we were scrambling at all, as there is a well defined trail all the way from the bottom of the ridge to the summit. We didn't have right version of Gillian Daffern's book, so we were off route all the way to the top of the ridge. We ended up going too far north before cutting to climber's right. This was actually a good thing because it made the hike more of a challenge. Because of the much shorter trip than planned and because of the great weather, we both felt really good on this trip. We made steady time and were on the summit within 2 hours of leaving the car - including lots of stops and pictures. We both wondered if we could access the beautiful valley to the east of the ridge from the summit and after reading the guide book it looks like we could have! We also could have bagged Mount Hood, which probably wouldn't have actually happened but you never know... I think we both kind of regret not knowing that little tidbit of information earlier. After reading all of the stories of people getting lost on the way to Mount Hood I'm actually considering bagging that peak via King Creek Ridge.
By the time we started back down the weather was closing in on us. Just over an hour after leaving the top we were back down - the trail is quicker than the scramble 'route'! I highly recommend this little hike for a great off season objective with stunning views of the Opal range and some familiar Kananaskis peaks. At over 700 meters of elevation gain it still gets the heart pumping and is a great alternative (much nicer scenery) to some other smaller peaks that you may only have time for like Baldy or Heart Mountain.
A firey sunrise. Fisher Peak is just visible on the right hand side of the photo.
Not quite as exciting as Mist Mountain, but still it's a 720 meter height gain!
Wietse, with Mount Wintour behind him.
Mount Wintour and Mount Elpoca in the softer morning light.
The slopes were steep and loose. The trail would have been easier and faster but it was more fun this way! (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)
That's the wind we were avoiding by hiking something a bit lower! It made for good photos though, this is a view to the west.
Wietse and the trail on the ridge.
It's not often in the mountains that the view east is so nice! From far to close we have Evan-Thomas, Packenham and Mount Hood.
Wietse with the summit cairn (and flag) above.
A great view of Wintour (straight ahead), Elpoca, Jerram, Burney and Blane (the closest and left).
Intense lighting over the Kananaskis Lakes.
Vern on the Summit of King Creek Ridge.
More dramatic lighting, looking from the slightly higher north summit back to the south.
Looking north, up the Kananaskis Corridor along highway 40.
The north summit.
Another shot down the valley between King Creek Ridge and the Opal Range mountains.
From close to far we have Mounts Hood, Brock and Blane.
From left, close to far we have Mounts Brock, Blane, Burney, Jerram and Elpoca.
From the north summit looking north and east to Mounts Hood, Packenham and Evan-Thomas.
Wietse stands on the south summit as I hike from the north back to the south.
Wietse descends the ridge.
More intense lighting effects on the way down.
A shaft of light gets the summit of Mount Wintour.
Wietse looks for some fun scrambling on the way down!
Looking back where the trail comes off the ridge. You should traverse above the collapsed cliff and then to climber's left up a worn path.
One last look. The true summit of King Creek Ridge is not quite visible from here but is beyond the second bump.