On Saturday, March 25 2006 I headed down to K-country to do a front range scramble. One mountain that I've wanted to do for a while already was Mount Lorette. This mountain is normally climbed via an exciting ridge, but this required rock gear and is not really a scramble. The climbers descent route was my ascent route for the day. Originally I thought that I only had about 900 meters vertical to reach the summit but on completion realized that 1050 meters is a more accurate number.
The crux of this trip is probably crossing the Kananaskis River! I had a few nervous moments as the water got deeper and faster the closer I came to the opposite bank - but I made it through ok. Next was a bit of a bushwhack but nothing too serious. I simply headed for the outlet creek on the bottom of the descent gully and soon was toiling up the dry creek bed.
I actually really enjoyed the gully. There were steep walls all around me and the weather was beautiful. After starting out under thick clouds, some patches of blue sky were now appearing and the sun was very warm on my face as I continued to climb. I was surprised by the number of falling rocks in the gully - apparently Lorette is in the process of crumbling down to nothing! The scree wasn't too bad either and as I got higher I actually found a beaten trail which made the hiking even easier.
[A lonely tree makes a nice foreground subject as I start up the long gully on Lorette.]
[The weather stayed nice for most of my ascent up the gully, making for some fantastic scenery. This is looking south past the climbers ascent ridge.]
[A very fore-shortened view up the ascent gully from about half way up it. That section at the end is very steep and loose and the sky did not stay that blue either!]
[Looking back down the ascent gully towards Wasootch Peak from about half way up.]
As I got to the top of the descent gully I noticed that I could go left or right. The left way was more direct and avoided a bump on the ridge but there were signs of recent snow slides and cornices were overhanging the whole route so naturally I chose the right hand gully. This part was not fun at all. The rock was very loose and the gully was very steep. Once I finally got to the top of the gully I realized that the 'bump' was quite large and since I knew I'd be losing elevation on the other side of it I was not happy climbing it! ;-)
[Looking ahead at the unexpected ascent bump that you discover at the top of the right-hand gully. The left-hand gully was choked with snow and over-hanging cornices so it wasn't an option for me.]
[Looking back down the top of the ascent gully from the bump that nearly killed me! ;-) That brown colored scree marks the top of what you see along your ascent up the gully.]
Soon I was over the bump and realized that the elevation loss wasn't that bad. The remaining route to the summit looked a bit more challenging than I thought it would be but I kept going. Because of the snow, I stuck to the ridge rather than traversing, which would have been much less exposed. Sticking to the ridge actually produced some fantastic scrambling and I quite enjoyed the final section to the summit. After spending some time on the summit, soaking in the views it was time to head down.
[From the bump, the route to the summit looks a bit challenging. With the snow I was forced to stick to the ridge which made the scramble upper moderate in my view - with lots of exposure and cornices to the left.]
[A panorama to the east from on top of the bump. The lighting was better here than at the summit. Peaks include (L to R), Mary Barclay's, Baldy, Midnight, Porcupine Ridge, Wasootch, Fisher and The Wedge. ++]
[Vern at the summit of Mount Lorette.]
[This is the ridge that I took to the summit - don't slip to the left!]
[The summit is guarded by some pretty impressive cliffs on the northeast side. The summit is the furthest high point in the picture. ++]
[The dark brown scree of the bump (middle of pic) from the summit ridge descent route.]
[Vern descends off the summit ridge.]
[The summit as seen on descending the bump.]
[Good timing! The weather socks in the mountain as I take one last look back from the car.]
On the whole I really enjoyed the mountain and some day I'll be back to climb the 'real' route!