On May 30, 2008 I joined Kevin Papke on the 'mighty' Limestone Peak in Kananaskis Country. So far the year 2008 has been pretty slow for me and mountains. Most of this is due to a priority shift on my part and the copious amounts of snow on the weather's part. I tried getting up Limestone a few weeks ago but turned back because of the snow.
On my first attempt I tried the Northwest ridge route. This is a hiking route - no problems at all but pretty boring. Kevin and I decided that the Nugara route sounded like more fun so we parked just past the Rocky Creek bridge and started up the left hand side of the creek, following flagging towards the Southeast ridge.
It didn't take long to lose the flagging as the trees got a bit thicker and the trail got a bit thinner but we managed to make our way Northeast through moderate sections of bushwhacking - I've done much worse but it was thicker than I would have liked. Eventually we ended up scrambling steep grassy slopes up to the rocky outcrop of the Southeast ridge route. I could see right away that this was going to be more fun then the Northwest ridge. First of all the views are much better. Secondly, there is actually good, solid rock to scramble on. Third, I think the solid rock makes the route even faster than the Northwest one.
[View of Mount Kidd with Rocky Creek in the foreground.]
[Kev on the Southeast ridge with the scramble section above.]
I was right. The Southeast ridge is a lot of fun. It's a bit exposed and steep in places but we went right up the rib. If conditions are dry it is possible to bail to climber's left any time you get tired of the fun bits. Of course with a height gain of less than 600 meters, there isn't very much rib to scramble up! It didn't take long and we were on the summit with great views to on every side, except East, which was blocked by The Wedge.
[Are we on route? ]
[Looking down a section of the scramble route. This is where the route starts becoming moderate in nature. ]
[More of the fun section. Sticking to the top of the ridge is best but you can avoid some of the fun stuff by going up on climber's left. ]
[Kev's enjoying himself! ]
[Vern and Kevin on the summit of Limestone Mountain with Mount Kidd in the background. ]
[Kev with The Wedge looming on his left.]
[Summit panorama. ++]
[From left to right we have The Fortress, Gusty Peak and Mount Galatea. ]
[Looking North up highway #40 from the summit of Limestone Mountain. Wedge Pond is in the foreground. ]
[Mount Kidd. Both the South and the North summits of Mount Kidd. ]
[The Wedge as seen from the summit of Limestone Mountain. ]
[Looking Southwest down highway #40 from the summit of Limestone Mountain.Visible peaks include Lawson, Inflexible and James Walker among others.]
After about 20-30 minutes of soaking in the views we decided to try an alternate descent. Instead of going down to the Wedge / Limestone col, we only went down the first rib and then proceeded down between the two ribs on the east side of Limestone. This worked out pretty good - better than we thought it would! What didn't work out well was the creek.
[Kev climbs down to the alternate descent of Limestone. ]
[Interesting rock wall on the alternate descent (our version of the alternate descent!). ]
We were about 15 minutes from the car, along the right hand (skier's) of the creek when we arrived at an impasse! Steep, rocky cliffs blocked our route. Kevin has bad experiences with fast flowing water, so I was surprised when he wanted to boot it across the raging Rocky Creek! Upon closer examination we decided it was too risky and instead we climbed up and around the cliffs that were blocking our route. This gave us around 150 extra vertical meters if nothing else.
[Kev makes his way down our descent route with The Wedge looming up above him. ]
[The stream LOOKS innocent enough at this point of our alternate descent... ]
[Innocence lost! Now it's a raging torrent. We briefly considered crossing on that flimsy tree you can see in the background, but quickly abandoned that dumb idea! We ascended slopes to the right about 150 vertical meters to bypass this section, only 15 minutes from the car. Limestone Mountain ]
The rest of the descent was uneventful. Highly recommended trip for fast days (we were 1 hour 10 minutes up) when you want a summit. Don't bother with the alternate descent unless you like bushwhacking and streams.
[View from the parking area. The Wedge is on the right, under the big cloud. The ridge (Peakfinder's 'Limestone') is under the smaller cloud in the middle. Limestone Mountain is on the left under blue sky. The skyline ridge on Limestone is the ascent route. ]