Summit Elevation (m): 2721
Trip Date: August 01 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 900
Round Trip Time (hr): 4.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 7.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: No major difficulties for seasoned off trail scramblers. An easy, loose gully just above treeline and another slightly steeper one below the summit block.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
I was happy with the outcome of Friday’s scramble up Devil’s Thumb and instantly began planning another objective for Sunday. As the weekend progressed, the weather deteriorated for the Bow Lake area and soon the date slipped to Monday. I didn’t want to go Monday due to the expected hordes of folks returning to Calgary after a long weekend of camping so Kaycie and I agreed that we’d get up at 04:45 and try to be off the mountain by around noon – hopefully beating the mad rush from Banff / Canmore to YYC.
We started from the Bow Lake parking lot in crisp, cool air at around 08:00 and were soon looking at our ascent slope from the trail. We donned Gore-tex jackets and pants to fend off the dew-soaked vegetation and proceeded to make our way up the easy bushwhack to more open avalanche slopes halfway to the lower cliff band.
The lower slopes on Jimmy Junior are bushy but it’s Alberta bush, in other words not really “bush”. The route was sort of obvious and we ended up more or less following a shallow drainage which became an obvious drainage the higher we went. Raf told me he’d seen a Grizzly up near the lower cliff band so we made sure to do lots of yelling on our way up.
The views started opening up behind us almost immediately after reaching the main drainage and exiting the thicker bush. Of course, as we worked our way higher, the views only kept improving and distracting us. As we broke treeline, I could see an obvious break in the first cliff band on its SE end and we contoured back around towards it, avoiding the low Krumholtz that was blocking a direct line from our drainage. As usual, once we got closer to the break it was even easier than we first thought and soon we were standing on top of the cliff band, looking down on Bow Lake and taking in the gorgeous morning scene around us.
From the top of the first cliff bands the route to the summit was obvious, follow the south ridge up! So that’s what we did. We ventured a bit further west to take in a gorgeous little tarn and some waterfalls in the gully to our left but other than that, we stuck right to the ridge which included some easy scrambling on fairly solid rock. Near the very top there was another easy scrambling move or two to get up the summit block from which we wandered to the apex cairn exclaiming at the wonderful views that continued to open up in every direction. I enjoyed pointing out many peaks that I’ve summitted on the Wapta and across hwy 93 to Kaycie. Lots of good memories in the Bow Lake area!
After enjoying the views for around 30 minutes we decided to head down as clouds were starting to build already and as indicated earlier, we really wanted to avoid the long weekend return traffic to YYC. We took a bit of a shortcut down from near the summit on the east scree slope which sped things up a bit. From there we retraced our ascent line to the parking lot.
Our round trip time was 4:20 including a few nice breaks. Jimmy Jr. is a nice short outing, close to a major highway with mind blowing views that doesn’t see that many visitors compared to many other peaks in the area. It gets skied quite a bit in the winter but you shouldn’t avoid it when it’s free of snow either – the views of Bow Lake are worth the short hike and it competes with its neighbor, Jimmy Simpson for views despite being much shorter and easier.