Odlum Ridge

Summit Elevation (m): 2469
Trip Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Elevation Gain (m): 1350
Round Trip Time (hr): 7.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 16
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1- you fall, you are likely drunk
Difficulty Notes: No difficulties other than deciding whether to return via a boring valley hike or regain a whole ton of elevation. Guess which one we did?
Technical Rating: OT4; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

On Wednesday, September 27 2017 I was joined by Trevor Boyce for an easy hike and traverse of Odlum Ridge, deep in Kananaskis Country just east of the Continental Divide and south of Highwood Pass. Our plan was to take advantage of the great weather with views of larches and aesthetic mountains in the background. We were not disappointed! Why such a tame objective? First of all, this was our first time out together. Trevor is the person responsible for getting Cornelius Rott into scrambling. After recently scrambling Lougheed I with Cornelius, I was keen to meet the guy who’d gotten him so interested in our favorite pastime. The second reason for a rather tame outing, was that Phil and I had some big plans for the following few days, and I wanted to save some leg strength for that.  I’d already been out on Howard Douglas, Eagle and Consummation Peak over the previous few days, so taking it “easy” wasn’t a horrible idea.

At first Trevor was a bit hesitant to commit to such an easy outing, but when I showed him Matt Clay’s photos from the area in larch season, he was in. We met at the trailhead around 07:30 and started off along the obvious trail. The trail was obvious but there are many other trails in the area to avoid, making a GPS track very handy on this outing. We crossed the Highwood River about 20 minutes from the parking lot with no issues and continued along the very overgrown track towards Odlum Ridge. We chatted a lot this day as the terrain is fairly benign – it was a fun way to cover the elevation and distance. At the beginning of the day the conversation was about ourselves but by the end of the day we were into wide-ranging topics such as philosophy, religion and politics! I found Trevor’s intelligent, engaging and non-judgmental attitude refreshing. More people need to learn how to debate without de-hate. Our world would be the better for it IMHO.

Odlum Ridge Route Map

The dang approach road was a lot more bushy than I thought it’d be. It wasn’t too long, thankfully, but it made me glad I didn’t drag anyone close to me into this hike like my wife or aunt Edna. Neither of them would have been very impressed from the get-go. Less than an hour after starting out we arrived at a good place to start our steep ascent to the first summit. Trevor led the way up the steep slope on a mix of grassy and lightly forested terrain. There were a ton of trails on this slope and we usually managed to stick to one or another before finding a better one. They switchbacked, so I doubt they’re from non-human animals. Trevor is in good shape, and he managed to keep quite the conversation going as we sweated our way up the never-ending steep slope to the first summit! Between the views and the talking, it seemed like no time at all and we were on top. It took us 2.5 hours. We still had tons of time left and neither of us wanted to quit the stunning views we were experiencing, so we dropped down the west ridge leading to the center summit.

This is why you do Odlum Ridge in late September. Mount Bishop (C) and Mount McPhail (L) with Horned Mountain between them.
Pleasant hiking towards the first summit.

Although the map names the first summit as the highest, official one, I debate that. From the second summit the first certainly looks a tiny bit lower. No matter, because the traverse between the two is worth it if you have the time and energy. Just remember that you either have to drop to valley bottom to exit, or go back up the first summit. Traversing beneath the high points on return would be side-hilling but might work. The views kept improving as we walked and talked. Mist Mountain was especially impressive, but I was also intrigued by lesser known (to me) summits to the east such as Highwood Peak, Lineham Ridge, Lineham Peaks, Patterson’s Peak and Serendipity. Obviously peaks to the west such as Bishop, Loomis and Odlum were also engaging. After taking in the great views from the center peak we decided to continue a bit further along the ridge to see if the views improved. The third bump was obviously much lower than the two summits we’d already been on, but the views from it were worth the extra height gains and distance. After snapping too many photos we reluctantly turned around.

MacLaren, Muir, Hill of the Flowers and McPhail. The two closest peaks at right are Horned Mountain and Mount Bishop.
Looking back at the first summit from the traverse – there are some easy scrambling bits if you stick to the ridge crest.
Looking north to the Highwood Pass area with Mist Mountain rising at right and Storelk at left.
Mount Odlum.
Mist Mountain and Nameless Ridge.
Storelk at left and Tyrwhitt / Pocaterra at center right with Highwood and Grizzly Ridge to the right.

Matt didn’t sell the return via the creek below in his trip report very well, so Trevor and I agreed we’d rather keep enjoying the gorgeous views and suck up some extra height gain rather than get into bushwhacking and limited views. Our seemingly endless appetite for chatting didn’t stop for the rest of the return over the two summits and back down the manky approach road. Which is very odd, considering we both professed to not liking people very much!!

Trevor descends grassy slopes.

Within 7.5 hours of leaving hwy 40, we were back at the vehicles. Trevor and I both enjoyed this easy outing. We could have done it a bit quicker but why rush things on such a gorgeous day? Trevor actually added a second summit (Mount Gunnery) to his day and I wisely rested my legs for Dr. Phil and my subsequent venture.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.