Sean and I did this scramble on a perfect scrambling day. The sun was out for some of the time, it snowed a bit, rained a bit and generally just did the mountain weather thing! We started off by parking on the wrong end of Bow River Dr. but eventually we found the right place and headed for the peak. After a long winter of no scrambling our heart rates went through the roof quite quickly!
We met up with some ramblers as they were cutting up to the main ridge. We went our separate way up to gain the ridge, Sean and I headed a bit more East and they went straight up the long scree slope. When I do this one again I will make it a point to gain the crest of the ridge as soon as possible. That scree is fun coming down, but terrible going up. It's also dangerous if there are parties climbing ahead of you because of the steep slope and the rocks raining down it.
The scree slope seems very long and is not fun to climb. On the way down we met up with a group of 4 who wanted to know 'how much further'? I always enjoy telling people that they are only around 1/3 of the way or less. The expressions of disbelief are quite comical - but to their credit they kept trudging up! Eventually we gained the ridge along with a guy from the ramblers. We could see about 10 or 12 people coming up the slopes behind us.
[Squaw's Tit as seen from the bridge on the road from Harvie Heights to Canmore. This is where you should start from. You want to work your way up the forward-facing ridge.]
[Shawn comes up the lower ridge. You should stay off the scree and stick to the ridge as soon and as much as possibe to save yourself a lot of grief!]
[Shawn passes some cliffs on the way up ST.]
The higher we got the more interesting the scramble and the more interesting the weather. If you don't like climbing slabs and edging up some small cracks with a nice cliff on one side and loose scree on the other, don't attempt this one! We almost turned back when it started snowing because on wet rock this would rapidly turn from scrambling into stupidness. When I looked at the clouds though, it looked very scattered so we took the risk and kept going. At the base of the summit block it seems impossible to get up. An obvious trail to the right was inviting but thanks to the guidebook I knew to go around the back to the left.
[Vern passes the same cliffs on the way up the same mountain...]
[Shawn with the final scramble to the top of the nipple in the background.]
After going around the base of the summit to the left there are a number of chutes that take you to the top. I took one of the first ones I came across and topped out just below the summit. After stepping across a narrow connecting ridge I was on top of the world! I guided Sean up a more sensible route and he joined me at the summit. Since the register was full we used a page from our guidebook (photocopy) and stuffed it into the register tube. After a few pictures we headed back down and had a very pleasant hike back to the car.
[At the summit of ST.]
[Lady MacDonald's summit ridge as seen from the summit of ST.]
Two things about the day were slightly bizarre. The first was the bear-warning that we ran into. There was ribbon strewn all over the place warning people to stay out of an area. If the bear was really that aggressive that warning tape had to be strewn everywhere, why let anyone in the area at all? I just hope that the tape gets cleaned up when/if the bear moves on... The second thing was that the mountain is confusing to access from Harvie Heights (which is where everyone tries to access it from). It's not impossible, but a much easier way to negotiate the lower slopes to the ridge is to take the service road from Canmore to Harvie Heights, or just turn off to Harvie Heights and instead of heading into the hamlet just turn right, onto the service road to Canmore. Drive until you see a major drainage coming off of ST under the road. Pull over and proceed up the drainage until the banks get steep. Then 'simply' climb the bank and bushwhack to the ridge.