Summit Elevation (m): 2454
Trip Date: Saturday, June 03 2017
Elevation Gain (m): 1050
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling to the highest summit with limited exposure. Easy scrambling to the first summit. NOTE: This was done as part of a long traverse to Two O’Clock Ridge via Landslide Peak.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Download
After a long and difficult trip that ended only a few days previous, I was a wee bit apprehensive when Mike Mitchell asked me what I was doing on Saturday, June 3. My second King Edward attempt had cost me around 50km of distance and well over 2500m of height gain, most with a heavy winter mountaineering pack and a good chunk of it either on softening snow or thick BC bush. Going down stairs still hurt, but I figured it was time to nail a summit so I said I was likely “in”. Then Mike sent me the details.
When consulting Eric Coulthard’s trip report on the loop that he names “Loop Ridge Traverse”, we noted that he only took around 11 hours, and gives stats of around 2200m height gain and 20km distance. These stats are slightly incorrect on hindsight, but we planned on a long day. We agreed to meet at the trailhead around 07:30. Mike slept in DCT while I left from YYC that morning after getting up at 03:40. The morning drive was excellent, but I was disturbingly tired already on the drive into the Rockies. I took a 5 minute break near Lake Louise to watch a Grizzly bear feed beside the road in the early morning stillness. That was cool. I made up for lost time on hwy #93 and by 07:20 I was pulling next to Mike at the small parking area for Ernest Ross.
Note: This trip report is part of a loop traverse that started with Mount Ernest Ross and continued from there over four more unofficial summits including Bridge Peak, Landslide Peak, Two O’Clock Peak and Two O’Clock Ridge. Total distance for the day was around 25km and total height gain around 2600 meters. It took us a total of 15 hours to complete the traverse with some snow on route.
It was warm and fairly windless as we worked our way up the steep trail on Ernest Ross – no approach here, just head straight up the ridge! My pack felt fairly heavy thanks to my water bladder that I felt I should carry, considering how high we’d be for at least 12 hours or so with no running water easily available. I also brought my pocket-rocket stove and some fuel / titanium pot to make coffee part way through the day! Like I said earlier, I was rather tired already before the day really started, thanks to a hard trip a few days previous. There are no difficulties on Ernest Ross if you stay on trail to the first summit. Some slight exposure is mostly avoidable. Part way up the ridge we heard a bleating sheep and soon there was a cute kid running right towards us, bleating pathetically! The poor little animal was frightened and alone. It wanted to snuggle but Mike was nervous it might have rabies or something so he didn’t let it. We kept hiking while the kid followed behind, letting us know he was there. Eventually he gave up and went looking for his own kind again.
The final scramble to the false summit had a few hands-on moves and the views towards Elliot Peak and over Abraham Lake were stunning, as expected. The Ex Coelis group of peaks across the North Saskatchewan River to the southeast were pretty neat too. Further to the south, Mount Siffleur was very impressive along with Murchison.
At this point, Two O’Clock Ridge didn’t look that far and our spirits were pretty high as we turned and descended to the col between the twin summits of Ernest Ross. The highest (and official) summit was moderate scrambling via the north side of the summit block and we enjoyed similar views to the first peak from there.
After a few minutes spent enjoying the beautiful day, we started down the west ridge of Ernest Ross, heading down towards Hector’s (Bridge) Peak to the west.