On Tuesday, August 09 2011, Wietse and I scrambled to the summit of Mount Noyes in Banff National Park. This scramble is uncanny in it's similarities to Mount Weed, the mountain just to the south of Noyes. As awesome as the views from Weed are, I would have to say that Mount Noyes is a more enjoyable scramble, or it certainly was for me.
The main difference between Weed and Noyes is that Weed is pretty straightforward route-finding and a fairly typical Rockies approach. The route finding on Noyes isn't nearly as straightforward and there are some hidden gems along the way. I had more fun on the Noyes approach than I can remember on any recent approach over the past couple of years.
We started from the overflow camping area on hwy 93 (roughly 10km north of Bow Summit) and went about 15 minutes along Silverhorn Creek before the terrain forced us up to climber's left. I can't possibly describe our route accurately, but suffice it to say that if you don't have a good route finding 'nose', you will do your most difficult scrambling in the trees!
[We hiked along Silverhorn Creek for about 15 minutes before cutting up to climber's left. You can only avoid the steep elevation gain so long! It's 1400 meters over 3.3km!]
[There is no trail through the forest - only smatterings of animal routes.]
[Looking back at Mount Patterson across hwy 93 from a break in the trees where we crossed a rocky slope.]
[We found a nice break in the cliffs.]
We were very fortunate to discover a great little break in the upper cliff band which led us over the first ridge. I marked our exit on my GPS because there's no way we'd find it back otherwise! The thickest bushwhacking of the day brought us to the beautiful upper hanging valley, leading towards an obvious cliff / headwall with a waterfall plunging down the middle. We walked to the cliffs and turned up to climber's left where we saw our first cairn (at the top). Sticking to the bottom (right of) the upper cliffs, we worked our way up and to climbers left before a route to the SW ridge of Noyes became obvious. We took advantage of a semi-permanent snow field to reach the SW ridge.
[Looking down at Wietse coming up the break in the cliffs.]
[Yellow Columbine seem to easily cross pollinate with purple Asters]
[Looking back across hwy 93 towards Howse, White Pyramid and Chephren (L to R) from the lower scree bowl.]
[Obviously no easy route through the curtain wall ahead, we contoured left just ahead before proceeding to the summit at upper left.]
[The summit rises far above - we cut left here.]
[Looking left of the previous photo, Wietse is gaining height on loose scree to the upper mountain - he will soon traverse back to the right.]
The face of the upper mountain looked very intimidating on the approach, but like many other Rockies peaks, it's bark was certainly much worse than it's bite! The moderate chimney felt more difficult than it should have due to snow and ice and wet rock. If there is any snow on the upper face you should consider bringing crampons. That would have made this section MUCH easier. We were following fresh tracks to this point and thought for sure someone had beat us to the summit for 2011 - this was not the case according to the register and I think they turned around at the crux.
[Looking back down our route - Patterson in the bg.]
[It's a steep scree grunt!]
[Following cairns as we work our way climber's left above the curtain wall to the summit.]
[The terrain is loose so caution is encouraged with large groups. Wietse comes up behind me now.]
[Finally the route to the summit comes into view at left.]
[Looking back at Wietse traversing over to the ridge leading to the summit.]
[Taking advantage of snow patches - a nice break from scree.]
[Views over Waterfowl and Chephren Lakes. Bison rising at far right.]
[Does this pile of rubble ever end?! :)]
[The snowy / icy crux isn't too bad - just slightly awkward.]
After the crux it was a steep and loose grunt to the summit cairn. The views were outstanding - too many peaks and valleys and ice fields to mention! After 40 minutes on the summit we casually descended, using my GPS to find the break in the cliff band and finding the way down a bit more bushy than we remembered it from the morning! :-)
[Outstanding views looking south, west and north along the hwy 93 corridor including Peyto, Mistaya, Waterfowl and Chephren Lakes (L to R) and numerous summits such as (L to R), Peyto, Caldron, Patterson, Barbette, Breaker, Ebon, Aries, Stairway, Midway, Aiguille, Howse, White Pyramid, Chephren, Epaulette, Kaufmann, Sarbach, Bison, Murchison. ++]
[Looking north and east off the summit of Noyes includes (L to R), Bison, Murchison, Hall Tower, Spreading Eagle, Cline, Corona Ridge, Marmota, Loudon. ++]
[White Pyramid, Forbes and Chephren]
[Surprisingly good view of the Lyells, (L to R), Christian, Walter, Ernest, Edward, Rudolph.]
[South and North Twin Peaks show up.]
[A great telephoto looking up Corona Ridge's beautiful summit ridge. Steven and I were the 4th party in many years to ascend that peak in August 2015.]
[Mount Weed just to the south.]
[Mount Hector with Andromache and Little Hector in front.]
[Waterfowl Lake and the Mistaya River. ++]
[Zoomed pano of White Pyramid and Chephren's scramble slope. ++]
[Vern on the summit of Noyes]
[Looking south down hwy 93 with Weed in the fg.]
[Time to head down.]
[I love these huge boulders and the views!]
[Back down scree off the ridge to the summit.]
[Alpine Buttercup with Mount Weed in the bg.]
[Lovely alpine valley as we approach tree line.]
[Flowers with Noyes at upper left.]
[Nice flowery alpine meadow - Chephren in the bg]
[Back down the break in the lower cliffs.]
Noyes is a top 20 peak for me. Just a wonderful day in a beautiful area. Wildflowers were everywhere including but not limited to Camas, Saxifrage, Aster, Paintbrush, Arnica, Avens, River Beauty, Blue Bells and Columbine.