So I decided that a nice 1500 meter elevation day was in order. Huh?
OK, originally I was going to do Copper Mountain with Harvey but he decided to do another objective that I've already done so I decided I would do Mount Burgess in Yoho National Park, solo, instead.
On my ride out to do Burgess I noticed quite a bit of fresh snow along some of the divide peaks and started to rethink Burgess as my objective. Burgess is rated 'easy' in Kane's book but his South Peak (main) option is considered by many to be 'difficult' and with fresh snow / verglass it didn't seem wise to do a difficult scramble by myself.
I pulled off onto the Castle lookout along the Trans Canada and mulled over my options. The weather forecast was calling for a sunny day but so far it didn't look too positive with low cloud along most visible peaks. I was optimistic though, and figured it would probably clear out. Considering where I was, I had two options. I could go up Storm Mountain or Vermillion Peak. Vermillion seemed far easier but I didn't like the Grizzly odds and I kind of want to ski up Vermillion so I choose Storm instead - even though my leisure day just changed to almost a vertical mile of height gain on an off-trail scramble... ;-) I phoned in my change of plans (I always alert my wife where I'm going, especially when solo) and headed up hwy 93 for the second time in two days.
Kane mentions a parking spot off the highway, 0.8km from the divide parking lot, but I found a nice gravel pullout a wee bit further on the east side of the highway and pulled in there instead. This worked out excellent - I ended up with less bushwhacking this way.
As on Inglismaldie a couple of days earlier, a faint trail on the climber's left side of the creek provided me with a huge sense of relief and a much shortened approach time. The trail was rough and there were still plenty of trees to duck under and scramble over but having that faint trail was a morale boost and helped avoid the worst of the bushwhacking. If you attempt this mountain you should try to find this trail, it is hard to miss, especially at the beginning of the trip once you're through the bottom flats before the drainage that Kane mentions.
Once on this trail, I made good time, occasionally losing it in thick growth and fallen trees but always finding it on the edge of the drainage again. Eventually I found myself right in the drainage, looking at a gap into the upper environs of the Storm Mountain basin and LOTS of fallen rock / scree!
I was kind of taking my time because I knew I had all day and rather enjoyed myself through this upper drainage / basin. The view is VERY foreshortened though. It took me another good hour before I was at the end of the basin and by then I was getting a bit sick of loose rock and rubble. Kane's suggestion to do this scramble with snow is bang on. I would highly recommend waiting for late spring to do this scramble.
(Skiing Storm Mountain would be very dicey IMHO - there is significant avalanche danger throughout the approach and upper slopes!)
After two hours the misery started for me. The weather closed in so even the promised views weren't a motivator anymore. It started to snow and the wind grew cold. The scree on the upper part of Storm, just under the final slopes to the summit, is some of the loosest, nastiest, crappiest scree I've been on in a long time! Considering people have been coming down this way for 100 years, I'm very surprised by how loose it was. Maybe most people wait for snow or something. Sometimes half the slope was moving on me.
Once on the upper plateau I grew more concerned about summitting. There was no way I was turning around after all that quality suffering for the past hour but the visibility was all but gone and the upper slopes are pretty big! I figured I would simply slog up hill and keep to skiers right on the descent and would probably make it fine. After fighting the wind and snow for about 20 minutes I was on top of Storm Mountain with absolutely no views whatsoever. :-| Not cool, but I've been pretty blessed with views this summer so I'll take it all in stride. I was really looking forward to the views of Ball's north face too!
My fingers and face were rapidly going numb in the cold wind so without any dalying I scurried back down the mountain. Of course the clouds started lifting on my way down but there was no way to predict if it would last or not and I was too cold to stick around to find out.
The walk out was fairly quick with the weather improving slowly the whole time. The upper scree was very loose but after that it was a pleasant walk with improving views. Once back at the car I gazed longingly back at the summit, wondering at the great views I had missed out on. Oh well.
Recommended scramble for those desperate for a Banff peak off the beaten track. Supposedly the views from the summit are worth it. :-) In all seriousness, there are great views already in the upper basin and the tarns look like an interesting distraction too. I might even go back some day.
From the parking lot I crossed an open gravel pit area and then looked down a sandy drainage at the rest of my route. You can see the flat bottom area with the drainage in the background - the trail is on the left side of the drainage and is marked with a cairn at the bottom.
The weather was a bit better on Mount Whymper the day before...
Once above the drainage you enter this cool little area just before the upper basin.
The upper basin is much bigger than it appears. It took me over an hour to get to that upper part of the slope.
Looking back down the route you can see the weather moving in. The rocks were interesting here.
Still not there! But I am getting higher. I think... ;-)
Now the day becomes a dreary trudge of sorts. The weather is closing in and I'm left with quite a nasty scree bash to the upper slopes.
Ah well. You can't win 'em all can you? CAN you?
I'm getting higher and colder.
I think the summit somewhere in this cloud...
YES! I see the cairn that marks the summit!
Vern soaks in the awesome views on the summit of Storm Mountain. Well, he's getting soaked anyway.
Could the clouds be parting?! Of course this happens on the way down.
My views improve slightly (click to view full size):
This scree is some of the nastiest, loosest I've experienced in a long time.
One of the tarns that Kane mentions - and my long route out. (click to view full size)
The clouds continue to dissipate as I get lower. Looking back at the upper slopes as I work my way through the boulder fields.
The boulder field was interesting. I went up on climber's right and down on climber's left. Both worked.
A last glance back.
Nice views before I start my bushwhack again.
At least there's a trail - but it's a rough one! Don't say I didn't tell you!