Summit Elevation (m): 3105
Elevation Gain (m): 1400
Round Trip Time (hr): 8.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 10
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain your thumb
Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling at most, easy if you choose a good route to the upper ridge.
Technical Rating: SC6; RE3
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
After reading Bob Spirko’s and So Nakagawa’s trip reports on Mount Lougheed, I really wanted to give it a go in 2012. For some reason it’s already been a pretty popular peak with other’s this year so I knew it was in good shape. When Wietse and Kevin Papke were throwing around the idea of heading out on Sunday, July 22nd I proposed peaks II and III of Mount Lougheed and they quickly agreed. Why didn’t I also include peak I and do the traverse? I’m not sure. I wasn’t really in the mood to challenge the “5th class terrain” just under peak II and didn’t have the energy for the whole traverse.
Mount Lougheed – Peak II
After hiking Headwall Lakes in crappy weather the day before, I was delighted with the clear, crisp air and the wonderful forecast for Sunday. We found Spencer Creek and the trail following it on climber’s left without any issues (11 km past the Goat Pond bridge from Canmore). The trail was very pleasant and I enjoyed sticking well behind Wietse and Kev and taking pictures of the flowers and just enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery.
As we approached tree line and the end of the trail the route finding became a wee bit tougher – but not much. The sublime hanging valley which is tucked between Lougheed II and III and Wind Mountain and the north face of Sparrowhawk was the highlight of the day for me. This great little spot reminded me of some of my favorite scrambles / bivies including Mount Ball and even my all time favorite, the Mount Chephren bivy location. Carpets of wildflowers and bright green meadows greeted us as we worked our way higher along the upper environs of Spencer Creek.
We started up the grassy slopes on the southwest flank of Lougheed II and soon were topping out on an upper bench with the scree cone clearly visible. The rest of the route closely followed Nugara’s description and we all agreed that the ascent route for Lougheed II doesn’t go much above easy scrambling if you’re on route with good conditions.
After enjoying a great view and a bite to eat (and forgetting to sign the register) we continued down to Lougheed III from the summit.
Mount Lougheed – Peak III
After enjoying a very pleasant approach and summit on Lougheed II we were ready to tackle the scree bash up Lougheed III. We found the excellent bivy location at the II / III col (this is where the climber’s traverse spends the first night) and continued up faint trails to the summit of Lougheed III. The best option here is to stay climber’s left on the larger chunks of scree with the odd slab making things a bit easier.
As we topped out on Lougheed III’s summit I was surprised at how good the view was! I found it better than Lougheed II’s views, although the views of Spray Lakes weren’t quite as good. From Lougheed III, the descent slope on II looked very hard (while in reality it was rather easy) and Wind Mountain’s north ridge alpine route looked much harder than its 5.5 rating! Looking at slopes head-on is the worst way to assess how hard they are – you have to get your nose in them in order to really know. If you’re truly hardcore you can solo the entire Lougheed traverse without a rope – but you’d better know what you’re doing if you attempt this!!
We enjoyed another break (this one was longer thanks to no wind) before working our way down between Lougheed III and Wind Mountain. We didn’t bother going right to the col, but rather worked our way down some loose and slabby terrain before reaching the col. This was the hardest scrambling of the day – moderate at most though. We paused near some plane crash wreckage for a few moments before heading down the valley, utilizing snow patches wherever we could to make the descent more pleasant on our knees. Once again, we were mesmerized by the beauty of this pristine valley. It’s a mystery that this scramble / hike has not made it into any guidebooks yet – but maybe it’s better to leave it for people willing to do a bit more work and keep it cleaner.
The hike back down Spencer was fast and warm. Surprisingly the mosquitoes were nonexistent but finding the start of the trail from the high meadows was a bit of an adventure.
I highly recommend this scramble and this two peak combo, it’s one of the best on this range of mountains IMHO.