Summit Elevation (m): 2425
Trip Date: September 24, 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 430
Round Trip Time (hr): 3.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 7
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break bones
Difficulty Notes: A moderate scramble up loose, steep terrain from a well-defined trail. Some exposure. Certainly harder than Nub Peak.
Technical Rating: SC6+
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps
After a long and tougher-than-expected approach the day before, I woke up on Saturday, September 24 after a night of rain and snow shower, with the plan to hike a local ridge I’d noticed on the map called “Chucks Ridge”, followed by a scramble up Sunburst Peak. Both of these objectives are located near the Lake Magog campground and both of them could presumably be done with some snow.
After a breakfast of instant oatmeal and Starbucks instant coffee I packed my light day pack and headed off towards Sunburst and Cerulean Lakes along a good trail leading out of camp to the north. It was slowly developing into a nice day, especially compared to the gloomy weather the day previous. I was happy to see the weather forecast coming true with its prediction of clearing skies. I enjoyed some really nice scenes around Sunburst Lake and Elizabeth Rummel’s cabin before continuing on towards Cerulean and Elizabeth Lakes (yes – everything in this area is named after Elizabeth, “Lizzie” Rummel).
As usual, I was alone on the trail as I hiked past Cerulean Lake and up a small rise before finally hiking down towards a partially hidden Elizabeth Lake. As I hiked down to the lake, I tried to identify exactly where I was and where the summit of “Chucks Ridge” was. I figured out pretty quickly that I must be looking at part of the Nublet and Nub Peak to the east and north of Elizabeth Lake, with Chucks Ridge located somewhere to the NW. What made things slightly more confusing was that the trail labeled “Chucks Ridge” only traverses the lower ridge, not gaining a summit. As the trail dropped to Elizabeth Lake, I crossed a bridge and came to a junction. The left hand branch led to Lizzie Meadows and the less traveled one indicated Chucks Ridge. As usual, I followed the less traveled trail.
Because I wasn’t 100% sure of exactly where the summit of Chucks Ridge was, I decided to follow the official trail and see if things would become more clear. Surprisingly enough, this worked! As the trail wound it’s way towards the west end of the ridge, I realized that it would not lead me to the summit. At an obvious clearing, just before a small dip in the trail, I turned back and started heading directly up scree slopes to what I assumed would be the summit. There were no signs of human tracks or trails as I scrambled up the lower ridge, which made me very nervous. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the Mount Assiniboine area, it’s that every peak should have a trail beaten into the scree. Apparently Chucks Ridge is an exception. I worked my way up towards the first set of obstacles – low cliff bands and huge boulders blocking the ridge.
The scrambling from the first set of boulders / cliff bands to the summit was unexpectedly fun. I was expecting a pretty boring trudge to the top but I got interesting route finding and moderate scrambling instead. Every time I thought I might be up against an impassible barrier, I managed to find a way up, around or through it.
The views in every direction improved with each meter of height gain until finally I grunted my way up the last, steep crux step and onto a surprisingly flat summit. The views were unexpectedly nice from this insignificant peak and I spent some time enjoying them before deciding it was time to head back down.
My descent was easier than expected – I wasn’t sure how tricky some of the steps I’d ascended would be. Being 6 feet tall certainly helps in these situations! As indicated on the map, I took a slight shortcut back to the trail on the south side of the ridge near my scrambling starting point. I was feeling pretty good after this very scenic and unexpectedly fun and challenging little scramble. I turned back to the Lake Magog Campground to grab some lunch before tackling my second objective for the day – Sunburst Peak.