As part of a 3 day trip to Waterton Lakes National Park in the spring of 2009, Wietse, Keith, Anne-Marie and I completed a wonderful traverse of 3 peaks along a stunning ridge hike / scramble - Newman Peak, Spionkop Ridge (actually not in Waterton) and Avion Ridge.
Saturday June 20, 2009 started off with calm and sunny skies as we made our way up the Snowshoe Trail towards the Goat Lake turnoff. We should have brought the bikes for the first 4.6km on the Snowshoe Trail but we didn't feel like packing them when leaving the day before and since Wietse would have had to rent one we just didn't bother. Take my advice though - it's worth it! Basically you're walking 10km that you could be biking and the terrain is a fire road and very easily biked... We're just idiots sometimes! ;-)
After reaching the turnoff to Goat Lake the terrain became very interesting and much steeper. There were cascading waterfalls, fresh flowers, cool mountain air and the sound of birds everywhere. It was very refreshing to be back in the mountains in spring. The trail to Goat Lake is one of the coolest I've been on in Waterton - although all of the main trails in Waterton are pretty great. I just love it when you look up at a wall of loose rock and don't see any way though it but then follow a great trail the whole way along. The waterfalls below us and the great views across to other peaks and valleys kept us from noticing all the height we were gaining.
[We should have biked the first 4.6km.]
[The trail up to Goat Lake off the Snowshoe Trail is pretty cool.]
Eventually we came to Goat Lake and started encountering good patches of snow near the campground. "Good" means that the snow was supportive for the second day in a row and we easily walked on top of it without post holing too much. The upper valley above Goat Lake was still blanketed in a heavy white coat and we lost the trail several times while negotiating our way through the two headwalls. This was an issue only where there was recent avi debris since the bushwhacking was intense with no trail!
[The views start to open up behind us as we climb the trail to Goat Lake. This is Anderson Peak which we'll climb the next day.]
[Lots of deadfall and avi debris on the trail above Goat Lake. You can see the Avion / Newman col in the center of the photograph.]
[We are now above the first cliff band and heading for the col.]
The headwalls were fun and easy scrambling and eventually we were standing at the Avion Ridge / Newman Peak col and for the second day in a row we had no wind - simply unheard of in Waterton! Unlike Akamina Ridge the previous day though, we also had a mostly sunny sky. The day was simply outstanding and we were enjoying ourselves immensely. Because we were a bit leery of the continued good weather (ok, we're a bit pessimistic at times...), we decided that Newman Peak would be our first objective since Spionkop Ridge was next and it was furthest from any sort of reasonable bailout route.
Wietse took off for Newman while Keith, Anne-Marie and I took some time for brunch and a drink. Anne-Marie ended up smoking past all of us to claim the summit first, followed by the rest of us. "Speedy-Marie" became her nickname for the rest of the trip! Newman was a bit strange since it's actually quite a bit lower than a connected GR. Good thing I bought a map in the information center and had it along for reference or we would have spent a lot of energy bagging a GR and calling it something it isn't!
[View from the col showing the first part of Avion Ridge on the left and Newman Peak on the right. ++]
[Vern on the summit of Newman Peak.]
[Looking back down our ascent route from the summit of Newman Peak. Avion Ridge is in the foreground.]
Next up for the day was Spionkop Ridge.
[Descending Newman Peak on the traverse over to Spionkop Ridge.]