What a day! With the weather reports predicting a perfect scrambling day on Saturday, Sonny and I hooked up to do the north peak of Mount Kidd. I took my brother-in-law along. We started out in some seriously crisp morning mountain air and about 1/2 an hour after starting we were staring up the drainage gully of Kidd. Sonny set a blistering pace and as the sun rose behind us our sweat helped swell the stream we were ascending. Some mountain sheep helped distract Sonny and gave me and Josh a break. They just looked at us curiously but didn't seem too concerned about our presence. I guess if I had horns like that I wouldn't be too worried either.
Eventually we worked out way up through the headwall, above the waterfalls in the gully on some very enjoyable ledges and stair-like rock. From here we noticed someone following us and he was making Sonny and Josh's pace look slow! As we ascended higher I started using the old avalanched snow in the gully while Josh and Sonny kept mostly to the rock. The guy behind us was also coming straight up the snow in the gully and as he leveled with us we started to find debris in the avalanched slope. Human debris. NOT human remains (thank goodness) but still very eerie. First there was a helmet. Then a toque. Then a glove. Then some shattered sunglasses and a sunglass cord. Hmmm. To find out more about the accident we were finding evidence on check out this site.
[Please forgive the awful purple tinged color of these photos - I had a weird white balance setting. This is Mount Kidd seen from the Kananaskis River crossing right near the parking lot.]
[These sheep seemed unconcerned.]
[Josh and Sonny trudging up on snow already in the lower gully.]
[Looking down the headwall that we used to gain access to the huge upper avalanche bowl.]
[Awesome mountain scenery from the ascent, looking past South Kidd towards the Opal Range.]
[Josh and Sonny taking a break on the ascent.]
[The Wedge looms over Limestone Mountain.]
[Josh going up climber's right of the avalanche path where we were finding random bits of gear earlier.]
We quickly gained elevation after breaking free of the avalanched snow and we all moved onto rock at the right side of the gully. The guy ahead of us simply kept to the snow - we were a bit concerned about slipping on the snow and sliding down out-of-control. The snow was still pretty frozen and we thought we'd save it for the way down! The rock was a lot of fun anyway. We were on steep ledges and some loose scree but I found it quite fun and fast. We worked our way up through a small cliff band and found ourselves looking up at the huge, open slopes below Kidd's summit. At this point Josh decided he'd had enough and patiently waited for the next couple of hours for Sonny and I to return.
Scrambling with another experienced guy is fun. You really don't have to worry about his route or whether or not to follow or be followed. Each guy just picks a route that suits him and heads up. This resulted in Sonny heading up a rock ridge just to the left of the ascent gully and me picking my way up the gully on the right - just off the scree but close enough to the scree that the hardened snow wasn't too hard to kick into. I got some fabulous pictures of Sonny heading up the ridge and eventually we got high enough that we could no longer avoid the open snow slopes below the summit ridge.
The guy ahead of us was already on his way down as we kick-stepped up to the ridge and we talked briefly as he passed. He promised excellent views and proceeded to prepare for his fun slide down. We were tired but managed to trudge up onto the ridge and the promised view did not disappoint! As you can see from my pictures this was probably the best view we'll have all year.
After Sonny falling asleep at the summit and me taking enough pictures to almost fill my camera we decided that Josh had probably waited long enough and started preparing for the glissade of the year. What a rush! We lost about 1500 feet in elevation in about 5 minutes or less (with some breaks) before sliding past Josh on his perch. He quickly joined the fun and we proceeded down the mountain, taking advantage of every opportunity to slide. It got a bit painful once we were in the avalanche debris because of all the rocks but it was still worth it!
[Eventually we cut over to climber's left and ascended the ridge.]
[Sonny comes up to a snowy summit with Eon, Aye and the mighty Mount Assiniboine in the distant background.]
[What a view! Sonny on the final ascent ridge - we came up from the left.]
[South Kidd rises in the distance.]
[A cool window in the cliffs to the south.]
[Vern and Sonny at the summit of Mount Kidd.]
[One of my first summit panoramas. Too bad I screwed up the white balance, but it's still pretty fantastic! Peaks include (L to R), Fisher, Wedge, Opal North, Spoon Needle, Lawson, James Walker, Fortress, Gusty, Galatea, Kidd South, The Tower, Engadine, Eon, Aye, Assiniboine, Bogart and many others. ++]
[Assiniboine with Lunette to the left.]
[Mount Bogart is a great scramble.]
[Fisher Peak is one of my favorite Kananaskis Scrambles.]
[Fortress with Sir Douglas rising on the right.]
[Mount Joffre is another 11,000er visible from this summit.]
[Sparrowhawk, Ribbon, Lougheed (II and Wind) and Mount Allan.]
Eventually we made our way back past the waterfalls in the gully (now rushing at a very full rate compared to the morning) and made our way back to the car. My best scramble so far this year and would rate very high in my books overall because of the views and the awesome glissade.
[Looking down the huge avalanche bowl.]
[Many waterfalls in the upper bowl, feeding into the Kananaskis River far below.]
[Signs of Spring lower down.]