Summit Elevation (m): 2935, 2970, 2850, 2934
Trip Date: Sunday, September 26, 2004
Round Trip Time (hr): 14.5
Elevation Gain (m): 2500
Total Trip Distance (km): 35
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: Most of the traverse is easy to moderate scrambling. This is a long day at high elevation and stable weather / conditions is key. Our descent from Outlaw was via difficult scrambling terrain to the valley below.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps
On a beautiful late September day Sonny and I headed out to the Little Elbow Valley to scramble our way along the Glasgow to Banded Traverse. We intended to leave our bikes at the Glasgow trailhead and then proceed to summit Glasgow, Cornwall, Outlaw and Banded before heading back out via a long valley between Cornwall and an unnamed outlier to the west. From this valley we planned to walk down the Little Elbow trail to our bikes. The plan worked fabulously, the only wrinkles coming on the way out.
Mount Glasgow was up first. We promptly ended up on the wrong side of the drainage. We detoured around a ledge in the stream and ended up trying to negotiate the right-hand side ridge. We soon realized that this was no fun and soon entered the creek bed again. From there on the only real problem was the mental game as we struggled up the scree slopes to the final summit block of Glasgow. For some reason I wasn’t feeling that great and it was demoralizing to realize we were only just starting a very long day.
Once I got a bit higher I started feeling better and soon the sun came out and the world looked like a much better place! Sonny joined me at the summit and we both looked at each other and then at the remaining three summits and someone said, “Who’s idea was this again?!”. We took the obligatory pictures and headed down to the col between Glasgow and Cornwall.
There was no real difficulties on the way down Glasgow, only some short cliff bands and some tilted, rubbly slabs – I would say an easy/moderate scramble.
Once at the col we had some gorgeous views up Cornwall and back at Glasgow and then it was time to hike up our second summit of the day.
After ascending Mount Glasgow we continued down to the col between Glasgow and Mount Cornwall and started ascending the 350m to Cornwall’s summit. For some reason this ended up being the second toughest slog of the day. This is the most elevation gain not including the initial 1340m to Glasgow’s summit and it really seemed to drain both Sonny and I.
The direct ascent of Cornwall can be seen from the Glasgow / Cornwall col and it looks really really long! The ascent was basically a hike and as soon as I popped out on the summit ridge I got a real burst of energy. The snow only came up to the ridge so we were actually just walking on scree and the glorious views were more than enough to make up for the aches and pains!
We took some summit photos, had a bite to eat and were off to the summit of Outlaw Peak.
After summiting Mount Cornwall it was time to descend to the Cornwall / Outlaw col and then back up Outlaw Peak. There was no issues at all descending Cornwall and soon we were starring up at some interesting cliff bands on Outlaw. Again, these posed no problem. Sonny went straight up the bands and I negotiated them to the left as I didn’t have the energy to haul myself over them.
It was very windy on Outlaw Peak for some reason – much windier than on Cornwall. I don’t know if that was just our timing or if that’s actually a common occurrence. Nonetheless we soon topped out and enjoyed some more wonderful views and the accomplishment of our third summit of the day.
We quickly wolfed down some food and soon began the descent to Banded Peak.
We were getting tired from all our hiking and Banded Peak looked fairly intimidating as we got closer. Of course we only had about 300+ meters of height gain so it wasn’t that bad but your mind starts playing little tricks on you sometimes!
We decided to tackle the slopes head-on and Sonny went straight up to a small cliff band while I tried to look for a good trail through the scree that I knew had to be somewhere to my right. I found a trail of sorts but it was more suited to the way down so I ended up bashing scree like everyone else does on this mountain.
Eventually we both summitted and enjoyed a quick look around before gazing off in the distance towards the col we knew we still had to ascend before heading down the valley back to the Little Elbow. The wind was howling pretty good so we set off back down the mountain to find a sheltered spot to grab a bite to eat.
All I can say about the trip to the col is that it really really really sucked. We had to side slope the whole way on nasty scree and it just wasn’t that exciting for some reason. Finally we reached the col and began following a sheep trail down the steep slopes towards a line of cliffs that looked impenetrable. Luckily the sheep trail did break through the cliffs but I’m very surprised by the difficulty they can go over.
After getting through the cliff bands it was a long and interesting walk out along the creek and then down the Talus Lake trail to the Little Elbow trail.
After finally exiting to the Little Elbow Trail from the Talus Lake Trail, it was still over 3km back to the bikes on foot, followed by an interesting bike out by moonlight. This was a highlight day in the Rockies for me with stunning views, four peaks and lots of interesting and fun conversation.