McGillivray Ridge

Summit Elevation (m): 2367
Trip Date: September 3 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 600
Round Trip Time (hr): 4.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 10
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1/2 – you fall, you sprain something, i.e. your ego
Difficulty Notes: No difficulties for experienced hikers. For beginners there’s some route finding and some boulder hopping along the upper ridge.
Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

Wietse, Dave and I were approaching the trail head for Southfork Mountain and Barnaby Ridge when we noticed dark clouds and rain on the windshield. Since nobody felt like hiking or scrambling in the rain, we started searching our minds for easier objectives that could be done in the rain and wouldn’t involve driving too terribly far. I remembered a “back pocket” easy family outing that I’d been planning recently up McGillivray Ridge and Ma Butte. Since the sun looked to be shining over the Crowsnest Pass area, we agreed to try it. By some minor miracle, Dave hadn’t yet been up these obscure, meaningless bumps – his words, not mine – but I agree.

McGillivray Ridge & Ma Butte Route Map

After driving to the trailhead that Bob Spirko used along highway 40 from Coleman (gravel road), we immediately spotted the access road that he used. Be forewarned – there’s almost certainly much shorter ways you can do this trip – I’ll show some possibilities on the map but beware that I don’t know 100% if these would go – but likely they would. 

We marched up the road and then up the cut-line that Bob mentions, taking a brief detour south into the trees along a good trail before coming up on the south end of McGillivray Ridge on a wide hydro-line access road. We followed the road as long as it was feasible before hiking easily north up the ridge on an obvious track.

Following an obvious road up the ridge, looking south (L) and ahead (R).
Still a faint track as we hike under the crest of the ridge on the east side, looking towards Center and Caudron peaks in the far distance.

We started out following the track as it lead just east (right) of the ridge crest, but soon ended up scrambling up steep grassy slopes on our left, to the crest of the ridge which we continued following north on a mix of black rocks and boulders.

Great scenery as we continue up McGillivray Ridge – Ma Butte showing up at left now.

The rocks / slabs along the ridge to just below the grassy summit were fun for about 5 minutes and then they were just a PITA. We decided pretty quickly that we would be trying an alternate descent rather than repeat this section – especially if it started raining. We could see alternate routes down the east face of the ridge that looked to be quick and straightforward.

Summit panorama looking back along the ridge (L) and towards Ma Butte (R) with Wedge Mountain in between and Crowsnest Mountain in the distance.

The view of Ma Butte from the ridge was a bit intimidating, but we knew from Bob’s report that it was easy on the north end. We summitted the ridge around 2 hours after leaving the car, with decent views of the Livingstone Range to the east and the High Rock Ranges to the west.

Starting our descent towards Ma Butte.

After a brief summit break we decided to try to beat any incoming weather and headed off towards Ma Butte to the west of McGillivray Ridge.

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