Ma Butte

Summit Elevation (m): 2376
Trip Date: September 3 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 900
Round Trip Time (hr): 5.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 13
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: No major difficulties for seasoned off trail scramblers. An easy, but steep scramble to the summit when approaching from McGillivray Ridge.
Technical Rating: OT4; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

After summiting McGillivray Ridge in better-than-expected weather conditions, Wietse, Dave and I turned our attention to Ma Butte – a nice looking ridge to the west of McGillivray, sitting pretty in front of the impressive Crowsnest Mountain massif.

Starting our descent towards Ma Butte.

Ma Butte looked intimidating from the southern part of McGillivray but from the summit we could see that the north end of the ridge would be easier – just as Bob indicates in his report. The descent to the McGillivray / Ma Butte col was quick and easy. From there we found ourselves looking up several hundred vertical meters at Ma Butte.

McGillivray Ridge & Ma Butte Route Map

The route from the col to the summit of Ma Butte was obvious. Head up! So that’s exactly what we did. We stuck to the north (climber’s right) side of the ridge and were soon scrambling easily up to the summit ridge.

We avoided the loose gully just under the summit by traversing across it and then back to climber’s left to gain the summit from the NW – just underneath it. This was the obvious route of least resistance. We broke onto the summit to some pretty sweet views of Crowsnest Mountain and the surrounding area.

There is a steeper, loose gully OOS to the left, but the easiest route is to simply gain the NW ridge that Wietse and Dave are on and then traverse it back to the left to the summit.
The spine of Ma Butte stretches south towards Crowsnest Pass. Crowsnest Mountain at right.
Crowsnest Mountain (L), Seven Sisters (C) and Allison / Window / Ward (R) to the west of Ma Butte.

We enjoyed the summit views before noticing yet another threatening storm system coming in from the west. So far we’d been lucky with all the rain / snow stopping at Crowsnest Mountain but the clouds were starting to make it further and further east so we didn’t push our luck. Descent back to the McGillivray col was quick and easy. From there we looked back up at the ridge, reluctantly realizing that we now had to regain it. Bob indicates only 600 vertical meters for both peaks, but he didn’t count the 300+ extra from the ridge to Ma Butte and back again.

From the summit of McGillivray Ridge we descended east slopes, bypassing a low cliff band before following an obvious dirt bike trail down to the east. Where the trail turned left, we started off-roading ourselves. There are literally a dozen ways to exit the east side of McGillivray Ridge – pick your poison. We descended various bits of trails / cut-blocks and finally just bushwhacked out to the road which we followed 2km back to the car.

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