Fairview & Saddle Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 2744
Elevation Gain (m): 1000
Trip Time (hr): 5.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 10
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Easy hiking and scrambling on trail.
Technical Rating: TL4; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps

On Thursday, August 27 2009 I took my whole family up Mount Fairview to check out what it looks like in the summer after previous doing it with my brother in April of 2004. Even the dog made it with no issues – this is a pretty easy hike.

Summit panorama includes Temple, Sheol, Haddo, Aberdeen, Lefroy, Victoria, Collier, Popes, Whyte, Niblock, Devils Thumb, Beehive, St. Piran, Daly, Hector and many more.

Doing peaks with small kids (and dogs) is always a bit of a challenge as they start questioning the enterprise about 1/2 to 3/4 way up. And it’s hard to give a reason that will satisfy them to keep going.

Trip Report (2004)

Wow! This may be an easy scramble in the summer but in the spring it’s a bit of a different horse. First of all the good stuff. With a fresh layer of snow the surrounding peaks were absolutely stunning. This is the best view I’ve ever had in the Rockies and I know that my pictures do not reflect it – sorry! It must have been too bright with all the white snow and since I was wearing sunglasses I didn’t really notice. Coming up over the final hump to the summit was an incredible assault on the senses as the whole range of mountains from Temple to Victoria to Piran were spread out around us.

The other amazing thing was the weather. It was over 10 degrees on the way up under hazy skies and must have been at least 20 degrees on the way back under the same haze. Not a breath of wind the entire day either! It was a shame that we had to push it so hard because my brother had a flight to catch back to Toronto that afternoon. We made it up and down in less then 4.5 hours which didn’t give us very much time on the summit to enjoy the incredible views.

Now for the trickier stuff. In hindsight it was a good thing that we went up early and came down around noon and no later in the day. As we were going up we noticed that there was a bunch of recent avalanche activity on the lower slopes before the Saddle col. By the time we headed down I was getting seriously concerned about the warmth and the snowpack stability. Just to prove me right we noticed sloughing on the main descent slope off of Fairview. The only problem was that in order to get off the mountain we had to glissade under this slope! We made it quick and spent the next half an hour basically running to the parking lot to avoid any unnecessary risks.

It was an excellent day out and I will definitely do this one again in the summer and spend a good hour or two at the summit. The other good thing about yesterday was that we only saw two other people and they were far below us on skis. We spoke with them briefly on the way down and they were moving off the slopes as quickly as possible due to the rapidly increasing avalanche risk in the area. When I do it again I will leave even earlier.

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