Summit Elevation (m): 2362
Elevation Gain (m): 1435
Round Trip Time (hr): 9.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 21.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Basically a long hike with some route finding. If on route should be easy scrambling with some mild exposure.
GPS Track Download: Download GPX File
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
Most trip reports on Association Peak wax on and on about the length and wasted height gain involved in a relatively low lying and insignificant front range summit. Knowing this, I’ve never been in a hurry to attempt it – there always seems to be better and more exciting options! Well – on Friday, October 25 2013 it was finally my turn to discover the delights of Association Peak and it’s approach. I was joined by Wietse and Bill. Inviting Bill along on any excursion to the mountains is always a good idea – especially if there’s any ambiguity about the route. Bill has lots of mountain experience and is a bit of a geek when it comes to researching routes. This one was no exception. Without going into details, we managed to lob off at least 4-5km of distance and probably as much as 500 meters of total elevation gain which thankfully demoted Association from a long and tiring slog into a rather normal outing of 21km total distance and around 1435 meters of total elevation gain.
We started off the day by parking near the start of the road to the Yam parking lot. We followed cut lines, ATV tracks and light bush around the east side of Yam’s east shoulder until hitting Old Fort Creek. The weather was beautiful for late October! Once across the larger creek (I’m still not sure which creek is Old Fort – there’s a smaller creek coming in from the west and then a much larger one running more North – South), we worked our way towards the small creek / trail running to the Association Peak / Hill col to the north. This trail isn’t too hard to pick up as long as you know roughly where to look for it. The easiest way is to use Bob’s GPS track. You’ll know you’re on track if there’s a circle of stones (fire circle) at the start. This trail is just a detour around the creek – it rejoins the creek again temporarily before finally going uphill to the col on a very obvious trail. This is not an ATV track but a real trail and no more than 1-2 feet wide at most.
Once we finally gained the col we thought the rest of the route would be very obvious. All we had to do was traverse up and climber’s left around the northeast shoulder of Association and follow a scree slope to the summit ridge right? Well… Not exactly that straight forward – but close. As we rounded the northeast shoulder we were surprised to see, not one cliff band but three. The lowest one didn’t look too inviting – and this one surprised us a bit. Nobody mentions this lowest obstacle. The way around it was to navigate some moderate terrain directly up the ridge above. We followed an obvious ramp before gaining the ridge crest. After gaining the ridge we traversed climber’s right, into the bowl and just below the second cliff band. We managed to get around the second cliff band following cairns up easy scree.
After breaking around the second cliff band we worked our way up easy scree / grass slopes just climber’s right of the upper cliffs. From there it was an easy slog to the summit ridge and then the summit itself. The weather was gorgeous – hardly any wind and a warm sunshine. We enjoyed the summit for a while and I called Hanneke to let her know how my day was going. After a little while on the summit we decided we’d better start the hike back, considering the short daylight hours available to us.
Descent was fairly straightforward, although we did get ourselves pretty turned around near the parking lot – hilariously following the wrong cut lines and overshooting our route several times in the bush! Association was a much nicer outing than I was expecting. We took our time and went a very leisure pace and still beat 10 hours. With gorgeous fall weather (almost summer at times!) and great conversations about everything from black holes to climate change to philosophy it was a very pleasant day NOT spent at the office.