Summit Elevation (m): 1905
Elevation Gain (m): 550
Round Trip Time (hr): 3
Total Trip Distance (km): 7
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Easy hiking and scrambling on grass / shale with some easy route finding.
Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
I was looking forward to a solo trip after a few busy family weekends in March 2010. On the 27th I got my chance and I grabbed it. Since the avalanche rating was high and the snow conditions complex, I abandoned my plan for a ski trip and turned to some different hiking options instead. With new snow in the front ranges west of Calgary I realized that I would be driving south for my solitude. At first I was thinking of driving to Crowsnest Pass and hiking two small peaks in the area, Tallon and Robertson. I knew from Wietse that these were a short day and the drive down highway #22 is always a nice way to relax.
At the last minute I thought of Plateau Mountain instead, since the drive is so much shorter. I would try the Northeast ascent slopes that the Nugara’s had done before. Driving down RR 532 I kept thinking that maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea to be driving here in my Corolla all by myself. The road is rough and the further I went the more warning signs I encountered about the road not being maintained and not suitable for travel unless I was in a huge 4×4 truck with chains on the tires. I kept going.
Once I arrived at the junction I realized something else. I didn’t know where the heck Plateau Mountain was!! Ooops! 🙂 I should have brought either the guide book or a map with me but somehow I assumed it would be obvious. It wasn’t. It was also incredibly windy and I decided to cut my losses and drive down to the Crowsnest Pass to try Tallon and Robertson instead – I had a better idea where those two mountains were!
After turning on RR30 I drove until the road took a hard left. I drove a bit further and took the first driveway / road that branched off RR30 – I think it’s 75B or something like that. On hindsight I could have parked at the end of this road and hiked into the two peaks but I didn’t recognize the area from Wietse’s pictures (I was looking for the “3 bears”) so I turned back and drove back down RR30. The right road is 75A and is just before the sharp left hand turn. I didn’t feel welcome as I drove up this road. Signs warning of prosecution and death by firing squad lined the road. The further I drove the more unwelcome I felt but I knew Bob Spirko and Wietse had both gone this way so I ignored the signage and parked near the 3 bears, just before the end of the road (it ends at a large house).
I decided to tackle Robertson first since it was further, higher and had more snow than Tallon. Both looked to be very close and not very high. I still felt like I was trespassing as I tramped through a horse pasture and up the hill but nobody was shooting at me so I kept going. The weather was beautiful, except for the wind which is always strong in this area. It felt really good to be hiking again and I quickly gained height up the grassy slopes. I cut around the middle bump between the two peaks on climber’s right. This was a bit of a mistake since all the snow was piled up on that side! I was in crotch deep snow for a short section. I should have gone right up the bump. Oh well.
Robertson was an easy hike from the col and soon I was looking north, up the Livingstone Range including Center and Caudron peaks. Great views of the prairies also greeted me to the east. It was so windy on the summit that my backpack came very close to blowing off! This would have been very inconvenient since my car keys were in the lid. I turned my attention to Tallon Peak. I decided that since I wanted some exercise anyway I might as well bag the middle bump between Robertson and Tallon while I was in the area. It was only around 50-75 extra meters of height gain and was easier than side-hill grunting anyway.
The views were great as I easily followed the ridge and broke through the small cliff band on Tallon about half way along it. The view from Tallon Peak was slightly different than Robertson – more of the Crowsnest Pass area and less of the Highwood Range. I especially liked the windmills and the Old Man Reservoir views. On the way back to my car I stayed high on my left and walked over some of the grassy knobs that link to Robertson Peak. A short but excellent early or late season objective. The driving in Southern Alberta is always special. I love the scenery and ranch land views.