Summit Elevation (m): 2639
Elevation Gain (m): 800
Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 22
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: No difficulties, mostly hiking on grassy slopes with trails.
Technical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
On Saturday, October 18th 2008 Wietse, Naomi and I tagged the summit of Loaf Mountain in the East Castle area, just north of Waterton National Park. Due to a seasonal closure of the road that leads to the normal trail head, we had to walk an additional 4 km each way from a locked gate. This resulted in more exercise but also prevented us from bagging more than one peak, simply because time and energy wouldn’t allow for it. You can do Spionkop Ridge along with Loaf if you have the energy / time. You can also scramble Drywood Mountain and Loaf if you’re so inspired.
Despite the long walk on an uninspiring road, the trip was still worth it. The easy road hiking allows for deep conversation. All the larches had lost their needles in the strong winds but the colorful rocks and vegetation was still a treat for the eyes. Following Nugara’s trip description worked great and we encountered no difficulties. We went a short ways (5-10 minutes) after a large waterfall in the creek before crossing the creek easily and heading up easy-angled slopes.
The wind was brutal but thankfully the temperatures were very warm (12 degrees at 08:00) so even though it was cool on the summit we could enjoy some views before escaping down the west slopes and contouring back toward the trail heading up to Boivin Lake. We met some hunters on horseback throughout the day – they were looking for sheep but I still felt good about wearing my bright orange jacket! They seemed impressed by our route choice and expressed amazement at the distance we walked.
We briefly considered tagging Spionkop Ridge but the incredibly strong wind discouraged us from summing the energy to bother. Since Spionkop can be combined with Newman Peak and Avion Ridge we thought we’d save it for another day.
The long hike back to the car from Boivin Lake was uneventful and filled with good conversation. I would recommend this peak for a day when other areas might be out of season or as a two peak day with either Spionkop or Drywood Mountain. On its own its just a really long hike, albeit a rather pleasant one.