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Richardson, Mount & Ptarmigan Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 3086
Trip Date: Monday, September 5, 2005
Elevation Gain (m): 2200
Round Trip Time (hr): unknown
Total Trip Distance (km): 18
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: No major difficulties. Mostly an easy scramble with some minor route finding. Combined with Ptarmigan made for a moderately long day.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps


Jon, Rod and I scrambled Mount Richardson under a cloudy, snowy sky on September 5. The weather didn’t look very promising at first and for most of our ascent we had no idea where the actual summit was! The day had started out great however, when we got a ride up the 4 km Louise fire road so we were in excellent spirits despite the gloomy start to our 3 day trip.

Mount Richardson & Ptarmigan Peak Route Map

Our plan was to stay the first night at the Hidden Lake campground while bagging the three Kane peaks in the area (Richardson, Pika and Ptarmigan). The second day we’d move our base to Baker Lake for two nights. From there we’d complete the Kane Skoki scrambles, provided that we had the energy and the weather of course! The first part of our hide to the Hidden Lake campground went quickly and soon we were setting up camp and heading out to attempt our first peak – Mount Richardson.

Mount Richardson

Even though we couldn’t see the route most of the time it was pretty obvious from cairns and a faint trail. The upper mountain was covered in cloud and it even started snowing on us at one point but we made it up. There was quite a bit of snow at the top but the views were still incredible.

Hidden Lake.

After the obligatory summit photos we continued on the upper ridge to scope out the alternate descent route to the Richardson / Pika col. One quick glance down to the col had us convinced that this would not be the day to attempt it. The clouds would move in quickly and when the clouds were around us we would have no idea where the snow slope was or where we were. Since none of us had axes along (or crampons for that matter) we probably wouldn’t have done the traverse even in clear weather.

Lake Louise from Richardson.
Redoubt at center right with Boulder Pass at lower center left and Ptarmigan at left. Peaks in the distance include Bonnet and Hickson at left, Pulsatilla at center.

I highly recommend this peak. Not an especially difficult scramble but great views at the top and a chance to bag the highest scramble in the Skoki area. This trip could also be done in a day from the parking lot, especially with bikes on the 4 km approach road.

Looking west over the Pipestone River and South Hector towards Daly and the Wapta Icefield.
Looking at the ascent slope for Pika Peak (L) on descent of Richardson. The traverse to the col at left is above the obvious cliffs here and not as steep as it looks.

After bagging our first peak of the trip, it was time to try the second one – Ptarmigan Peak.

Mount Richardson
The "half way hut" is a day use cabin only - no overnight stays allowed!
The "half way hut" is a day use cabin only - no overnight stays allowed!
It's a grey day as we head up the Boulder Pass trail to the Hidden Lake turn off.
It's a grey day as we head up the Boulder Pass trail to the Hidden Lake turn off.
Wildlife on the ski runs.
Wildlife on the ski runs.
Vern and Rod cross Corral Creek.
Vern and Rod cross Corral Creek.
Hiking to the Hidden Lake Campground.
Hiking to the Hidden Lake Campground.
Hiking to the Hidden Lake Campground.
Hiking to the Hidden Lake Campground.
The Hidden Lake campground.
The Hidden Lake campground.
The Hidden Lake campground.
The Hidden Lake campground.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Looking back at Redoubt Mountain.
Looking back at Redoubt Mountain.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Hiking up the Hidden Lake outlet stream.
The Hidden Lake outlet stream.
The Hidden Lake outlet stream.
Jon at Hidden Lake.
Jon at Hidden Lake.
Starting our ascent of the south shoulder of Richardson from Hidden Lake looking over at Redoubt.
Starting our ascent of the south shoulder of Richardson from Hidden Lake looking over at Redoubt.
Jon on the ascent with lovely terrain opening up towards the Lake Louise ski hill.
Jon on the ascent with lovely terrain opening up towards the Lake Louise ski hill.
Rod grinds his way up to the south shoulder.
Rod grinds his way up to the south shoulder.
Snow squalls move through.
Snow squalls move through.
Pika (L) and Ptarmigan (R) from the south scree ridge on Richardson.
Pika (L) and Ptarmigan (R) from the south scree ridge on Richardson.
Jon ascends Richardson.
Jon ascends Richardson.
Pika Peak.
Pika Peak.
Vern ascends Richardson.
Vern ascends Richardson.
The half-way hut.
The half-way hut.
Ptarmigan looks a bit snowy.
Ptarmigan looks a bit snowy.
Lake Louise from Richardson.
Lake Louise from Richardson.
Rod grinds up the snow covered scree on Richardson.
Rod grinds up the snow covered scree on Richardson.
An outcrop on ascent.
An outcrop on ascent.
Taking a break on ascent.
Taking a break on ascent.
Ascending the south ridge.
Ascending the south ridge.
Hidden Lake from the summit slopes with our campground nearby and Redoubt in the background.
Hidden Lake from the summit slopes with our campground nearby and Redoubt in the background.
Redoubt at center right with Boulder Pass at lower center left and Ptarmigan at left.
Redoubt at center right with Boulder Pass at lower center left and Ptarmigan at left.
Great views from the summit! ;)
Great views from the summit! 😉
The clouds swirl around us at the summit.
The clouds swirl around us at the summit.
At the giant summit cairn.
At the giant summit cairn.
Rod and some lingering snow on the summit of Richardson.
Rod and some lingering snow on the summit of Richardson.
Looking down at the Lake Louise ski hill with Lake Louise in the far background.
Looking down at the Lake Louise ski hill with Lake Louise in the far background.
Looking west over South Hector towards Daly and the Wapta Icefield.
Looking west over South Hector towards Daly and the Wapta Icefield.
The impressive "Wall of Jericho" stretches NE from the summit.
The impressive "Wall of Jericho" stretches NE from the summit.
Lingering snow to the summit.
Lingering snow to the summit.
Lake Louise from Richardson.
Lake Louise from Richardson.
Views across the Pipestone River to Mount Hector.
Views across the Pipestone River to Mount Hector.
The lovely Lake Merlin.
The lovely Lake Merlin.
Mount Victoria.
Mount Victoria.
The clouds start clearing over Mount Redoubt.
The clouds start clearing over Mount Redoubt.
Hidden Lake and Mount Redoubt as the clouds clear off.
Hidden Lake and Mount Redoubt as the clouds clear off.
Looking at the ascent slope for Pika Peak (L) on descent of Richardson.
Looking at the ascent slope for Pika Peak (L) on descent of Richardson.
Looking back up the south ridge of Richardson as we descend towards Hidden Lake.
Looking back up the south ridge of Richardson as we descend towards Hidden Lake.

Ptarmigan Peak

Ptarmigan Peak was the second peak of the day for Jon and I. Rod decided to head back to our Hidden Lake camp for a break while we continued on. Earlier we had climbed Mount Richardson and now we found ourselves plodding up the scree slopes of Ptarmigan from Hidden Lake. We didn’t see any of the mountain’s namesake but we did see lots of bear sign on the lower, grassy slopes above Hidden Lake and Boulder Pass!

Looking up the scree ramp on Ptarmigan to the summit.

Ptarmigan is an easy scramble and other than a very short bit at the top it is a mere slog up scree slopes that don’t seem to end quickly enough. The fun occurs right at the top where you briefly have a bit of a ridge to contend with and some slight exposure – nothing to worry about if you’re a Rockies scrambler though.

Douglas (L), Fossil, St. Bride, Lychnis, Tilted, Brachiopod, Bonnet, Hickson, Anthozoan, Heather Ridge, Avens, Pulsatilla, Protection, Armor, Bulwark, Redoubt, Lipalian (R). Visible lakes from L to R include Baker and Redoubt.
L to R, Fossil, Douglas, St. Bride, Tilted, Lychnis, Brachiopod, Bonnet, Hickson, Anthozoan, Heather Ridge.
At the Hidden Lake campground. Look at the luxury camp gear and food! Things have changed in my pack over the years… 🙂

Note, if you’re coming to Ptarmigan from Pika I think it is possible to cut up to Ptarmigan from the Pika side-slope before coming all the way down to the meadows. Consult your map and look carefully at the slopes before hand.

Ptarmigan Peak
Traversing to Ptarmigan Peak with views towards Redoubt and Lipalian (R).
Traversing to Ptarmigan Peak with views towards Redoubt and Lipalian (R).
Views over Hidden Lake towards Redoubt, Purple and Lipalian (R).
Views over Hidden Lake towards Redoubt, Purple and Lipalian (R).
Traversing to Ptarmigan Peak.
Traversing to Ptarmigan Peak.
Incredible late afternoon views over Whitehorn towards Lake Louise.
Incredible late afternoon views over Whitehorn towards Lake Louise.
Summit cornice on Ptarmigan.
Summit cornice on Ptarmigan.
Views past Redoubt over Lipalian towards Lake Louise.
Views past Redoubt over Lipalian towards Lake Louise.
Douglas (L), Fossil, St. Bride, Lychnis, Tilted, Brachiopod, Bonnet, Hickson, Anthozoan, Heather Ridge, Avens, Pulsatilla, Protection, Armor, Bulwark, Redoubt, Lipalian (R).
Douglas (L), Fossil, St. Bride, Lychnis, Tilted, Brachiopod, Bonnet, Hickson, Anthozoan, Heather Ridge, Avens, Pulsatilla, Protection, Armor, Bulwark, Redoubt, Lipalian (R).
Vern and Jon on the summit of Ptarmigan Peak.
Vern and Jon on the summit of Ptarmigan Peak.
Looking over Redoubt and it's namesake Lake.
Looking over Redoubt and it's namesake Lake.
Lake Louise with the impressive Mount Victoria looming over it.
Lake Louise with the impressive Mount Victoria looming over it.
Redoubt at left and the Corral Creek approach at lower right.
Redoubt at left and the Corral Creek approach at lower right.
Our camp is down there somewhere.
Our camp is down there somewhere.
Hidden Lake.
Hidden Lake.
Views over Whitehorn towards Lake Louise.
Views over Whitehorn towards Lake Louise.
The Hidden Lake campground at lower right.
The Hidden Lake campground at lower right.
The half-way hut.
The half-way hut.
Ptarmigan Lake with Redoubt Lake and Heather Ridge above.
Ptarmigan Lake with Redoubt Lake and Heather Ridge above.
Baker Lake.
Baker Lake.
Looking down on Zigadenus and Myosotis Lakes from the summit
Looking down on Zigadenus and Myosotis Lakes from the summit
Redoubt and Lipalian with Temple at distant right.
Redoubt and Lipalian with Temple at distant right.
Vern on the summit with Richardson, Pika and Hector (R) in the bg.
Vern on the summit with Richardson, Pika and Hector (R) in the bg.
Avens (L), Pulsatilla, Protection, Armor, Bulwark, Redoubt, Lipalian.
Avens (L), Pulsatilla, Protection, Armor, Bulwark, Redoubt, Lipalian.
L to R, Fossil,  Douglas, St. Bride, Tilted, Lychnis, Bonnet, Brachiopod, Anthozoan, Heather Ridge.
L to R, Fossil, Douglas, St. Bride, Tilted, Lychnis, Bonnet, Brachiopod, Anthozoan, Heather Ridge.
Oyster Peak with Mount Douglas rising beyond.
Oyster Peak with Mount Douglas rising beyond.
Looking over the Lake Louise ski hill to Temple, Hungabee and Lefroy.
Looking over the Lake Louise ski hill to Temple, Hungabee and Lefroy.
Descending Ptarmigan.
Descending Ptarmigan.
Descending Ptarmigan.
Descending Ptarmigan.
Looking back up the scree ramp on Ptarmigan to the summit.
Looking back up the scree ramp on Ptarmigan to the summit.
Views down the Corral Creek approach valley towards Mount Temple.
Views down the Corral Creek approach valley towards Mount Temple.
Near boulder pass as we head back to the Hidden Lake camp.
Near boulder pass as we head back to the Hidden Lake camp.
At the Hidden Lake campground.
At the Hidden Lake campground.
At the Hidden Lake campground.
At the Hidden Lake campground.

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