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Wapiti Mountain

Trip Date: Saturday, June 29 2019
Reference Trip: Three Passes Route 
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3- you fall, you break something.
Difficulty Notes: A moderate scramble from Tyrrell Creek via west slopes and the southwest ridge. 
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd class)
Map: Google Maps


After biking 14km to the Banff National Park boundary, Phil, Jo and I hiked an hour up the Red Deer River before turning north and trekking up Tyrrell Creek towards Tomahawk Pass. We filled our water bottles at a convenient side creek flowing into Tyrrell Creek and turned uphill with smaller daypacks to tackle the summit of Wapiti Mountain.

Looking south down Tyrrell Creek with Mount White at right.

We ascended through light forest on a western rib of Wapiti, trying to keep up with a very speedy Joanna. Phil had no issues keeping up but I was feeling the effects of a stress-filled few weeks thanks to an ongoing move and lots of work hours. Soon we transitioned from forest to alpine and our views started opening up dramatically. The green meadows on a ridge to the north kept us entertained as the sun played hide-and-seek.

Views back to the west over Tyrrell Creek where we left the trail to ascend Wapiti Mountain.

Finally, after 1.5 hours of steep hiking we topped out on a high point on the southwest ridge with the summit of Wapiti still looking a long way off and distressingly snowy. In an effort to keep our packs as light as possible, Phil and I had left axes and crampons behind. This was a risk given all the recent snow, but we were tired of carrying them for no use on the last few trips. Were we now going to by stymied on our very first peak due to this decision? We knew from previous trips that even dicey looking snow slopes could be straightforward at this time of year, so we doggedly pushed on up the narrowing SW ridge.

Hiking along the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain with the summit still a long ways off.

My only reference for this route on Wapiti was a trip report from Steven Song where he, Ben and Eric struggled to the summit in mid October in snowy, cold conditions. He mentioned several “tricky” spots so in my head I was expecting moderate to difficult scrambling to the summit. Other than a few moderate downclimbs along the ridge, we found pretty straightforward terrain, even with the fresh snow. We stuck to the ridge for the most part, bypassing a few sections on climber’s right.

Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit. Remember – this is a front range mountain and it’s SUMMER. It was very cold.

By the time we topped out 1.5 hours after joining the SW ridge I was downright freezing in the stiff breeze and cloudy, cool conditions. The shivering did not dampen the views however! They were much better than expected given the forecast conditions and despite the cold, we spent some time identifying many peaks that Joanna had never even heard of before, much less recognized. Years of planning trips in the area and flirting with its borders on peaks such as Dormer Mountain, Mount McConnell and Cataract Peak had honed Phil and my familiarity with these remote summits.

Views east include Scalp (L), Limestone, Wellsite, Evangeline, Eagle, Warden Rock, Barrier, Gable.
Gorgeous views back over our approach through the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch past Warden Rock.
Puma Mountain at left with Panther at center and Melanin at right.
Incredible views over the eastern Banff ranges from the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain. Peaks include (l to r), Melanin, Prow, Boar Station, McConnell, Cataract, Condor and many others.

Eventually the cold breeze won over and I quickly texted Hanneke that we were on our first peak before following Phil and Jo back down the ridge to our waiting packs along Tyrrell Creek. The descent of the ridge was easier than ascent since all the downclimbs were now up-climbs.

Incredible colors in the Tyrrell Creek valley below as the sun plays hide and seek.

I finally started warming up again as we enjoyed wildflower meadows in the alpine before dipping back into the light forest towards the creek and trail below.

Wapiti Mountain
Another side creek. This is where we started our ascent of Wapiti Mountain.
Another side creek. This is where we started our ascent of Wapiti Mountain.
Easy forest up the west aspect of Wapiti Mountain.
Easy forest up the west aspect of Wapiti Mountain.
Gorgeous green vegetation thanks to a wet spring.
Gorgeous green vegetation thanks to a wet spring.
Views back across Tyrrell Creek to Mount Tyrrell (L).
Views back across Tyrrell Creek to Mount Tyrrell (L).
Ascending easy grassy west slopes to the false summit.
Ascending easy grassy west slopes to the false summit.
Gorgeous green vegetation thanks to a wet spring.
Gorgeous green vegetation thanks to a wet spring.
Ascending easy grassy west slopes to the false summit.
Ascending easy grassy west slopes to the false summit.
Views south down Tyrrell Creek to Melanin Peak and Mount White.
Views south down Tyrrell Creek to Melanin Peak and Mount White.
Easy scree slopes to the false summit on the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Easy scree slopes to the false summit on the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Gorgeous views down Tyrrell Creek to Mount White and Prow Mountain (R).
Gorgeous views down Tyrrell Creek to Mount White and Prow Mountain (R).
Easy scree slopes to the false summit on the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Easy scree slopes to the false summit on the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
The peak to the north of Wapiti is unnamed but has a nice alpine bowl.
The peak to the north of Wapiti is unnamed but has a nice alpine bowl.
Melanin Peak (C-L).
Melanin Peak (C-L).
Condor Peak rises at distant right.
Condor Peak rises at distant right.
Looking to Mount White, Prow and Tyrrell (R).
Looking to Mount White, Prow and Tyrrell (R).
Hiking along the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Hiking along the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Nearing the moderate sections on the west ridge.
Nearing the moderate sections on the west ridge.
Looking back at one of the moderate downclimbs.
Looking back at one of the moderate downclimbs.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
Ascending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain to the summit.
There is some exposure off the summit making for a spectacular view.
There is some exposure off the summit making for a spectacular view.
Nearing the summit of Wapiti Mountain.
Nearing the summit of Wapiti Mountain.
Nearing the summit of Wapiti Mountain. It's bloody cold for Summer!!
Nearing the summit of Wapiti Mountain. It's bloody cold for Summer!!
Views east include Scalp (L), Limestone, Wellsite, Evangeline, Eagle, Warden Rock, Barrier, Gable.
Views east include Scalp (L), Limestone, Wellsite, Evangeline, Eagle, Warden Rock, Barrier, Gable.
Views north to Tomahawk Mountain and Condor Peak.
Views north to Tomahawk Mountain and Condor Peak.
Views over the Red Deer River Valley to White (L), Prow and Tyrrell (R).
Views over the Red Deer River Valley to White (L), Prow and Tyrrell (R).
Melanin Peak (C). The valley at left leads to the Panther River.
Melanin Peak (C). The valley at left leads to the Panther River.
Views over Mount White towards peaks like Mount St. Bride and Douglas.
Views over Mount White towards peaks like Mount St. Bride and Douglas.
Willingdon, Crown and Tower at distant left with Harris's east face impressive at center.
Willingdon, Crown and Tower at distant left with Harris's east face impressive at center.
Looking south past Gable (L) towards Panther Mountain. Melanin at right.
Looking south past Gable (L) towards Panther Mountain. Melanin at right.
Views south over Warden Rock to Barrier Mountain and Gable (R).
Views south over Warden Rock to Barrier Mountain and Gable (R).
Condor Peak at left with a snowy Whelk Peak rising at distant right.
Condor Peak at left with a snowy Whelk Peak rising at distant right.
Our bike ride across Ya Ha Tinda at left and approach up Tyrrell Creek at right.
Our bike ride across Ya Ha Tinda at left and approach up Tyrrell Creek at right.
Gorgeous views east over Ya Ha Tinda with Warden Rock and Barrier Mountain at right.
Gorgeous views east over Ya Ha Tinda with Warden Rock and Barrier Mountain at right.
Descending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Descending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Puma Mountain at left with Panther at center and Melanin at right.
Puma Mountain at left with Panther at center and Melanin at right.
Descending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Descending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Descending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Descending the west ridge of Wapiti Mountain.
Incredible colors as the sun plays hide and seek.
Incredible colors as the sun plays hide and seek.
Descending the west slopes of Wapiti towards Tyrrell Creek.
Descending the west slopes of Wapiti towards Tyrrell Creek.
Incredible colors as the sun plays hide and seek.
Incredible colors as the sun plays hide and seek.
Descending the west slopes of Wapiti towards Tyrrell Creek.
Descending the west slopes of Wapiti towards Tyrrell Creek.
Descending the west slopes of Wapiti towards Tyrrell Creek.
Descending the west slopes of Wapiti towards Tyrrell Creek.

2 thoughts on Wapiti Mountain

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