Loop Ridge

Summit Elevation (m): 2028
Trip Date: Saturday, April 25, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 750
Round Trip Time (hrs): 3.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 10
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your thumb
Difficulty Notes: No real difficulties. Be careful following our descent line down a steep gully – depending on the time of year it could be a chore.
Technical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps

Ever since meeting Dave Salahub slogging his way along Corbin Road in 2017, after snowshoeing the nearby Tent Mountain I’ve had Loop Ridge / Peak on my list for a spring ascent. Not that Dave made it sound so great, but it was there and has decent views so why not? Then, in 2020 I discovered another objective nearby called the Natal Lookout / Sparwood Ridge hike that Matt and Ali did and I had two objectives off the Corbin Road. Since Loop Ridge was a “Covid-19 friendly” objective, Wietse and I decided to go for it on a cloudy, cool day in late April – hoping against hope that the snow pack would hold up under our snowshoes on the summit ridge.

Loop Ridge Route Map

We arrived at the trailhead with clouds building pretty heavily to the west already. Oh well. I’ve learned over the past few years that hiking in gloomy weather can produce unique atmosphere and photos and isn’t necessarily something to avoid as much as I used to in the past. We started up a dry (somewhat muddy) logging road, headed up to a west ridge that Matt used to access the north ridge of Loop. It was glorious to hike on dry ground for once! We knew we’d likely end up with ticks but it was worth it. We also wondered if the snowshoes were worth it but with two recent parties reporting copious amounts of snow higher up only days previous, we were playing smart by putting them on the packs.

Dry ground for once – ascending the west ridge.
On a logging road near the top of the west ridge. We accessed the west face from the top of this road.

As we followed a mix of old and fresh logging and exploration roads up to the west face of Loop we gradually started running into more and more snow until I got tired of post-holing and stopped to put on the ‘shoes. The skies were still threatening but holding off dumping too much gropal on us as we gingerly started on ‘shoes up the steep face on surprisingly firm snow. Thank goodness for the cool temps and the snowshoes! From this point onward we would have been screwed without them. We put the heel risers up and charged straight up the steep slopes on firm(ish) snow, making ridiculously fast time to the north ridge. In less than 1.5 hours from the parking spot we were levelling out on the north ridge, making our way on mostly firm snow to the distant summit.

Views over Crowsnest Pass includes Phillipps (L), Crowsnest Ridge (C), Sentry and Ostracized (R). Lakes include Summit (L), Island (C) and Crowsnest (C).
Wietse on the north ridge.

The weather remained gloomy with great views east and somewhat limited views west. Familiar peaks such as Erickson, Phillipps, Tecumseh, Sentry, Ostracized, Tent and many others were visible. We followed old tracks along the ridge until finally hitting a high point and stopping for a quick replenish in a cool, stiff breeze.

Views back along the north ridge includes Sparwood Ridge at left and Mount Erickson at distant right in the clouds.
Views along the north ridge to the summit of Loop Ridge. Sentry and Ostracized at left.
Views back down the north ridge with some wild weather all around. The Continental Divide at right.

For descent we decided to take a chance and try an obvious gully just south of the peak that nobody we knew had attempted for some or another reason. We really wanted to make some sort of “loop” on “Loop Ridge” so descending our approach line didn’t make sense. The gully worked out – but only barely. The snow was very deep (1-2 meters) and almost too soft. The gully is very steep and there are sections of deadfall in it that must be avoided. I would definitely not ascend this route and would likely not descend it either. You’re better off using Bob Spirko’s descent track if you want to make a loop out of it. Or go up Bob’s route (if dry) and down Matt’s. That would be good too.

Eventually we made it down a few clearcuts and onto a very muddy logging road. From there it was easy hiking on “dry” ground to the parking spot. Our round trip time of 3.5 hours was pretty quick, necessitating a second objective for the day. I can’t say Loop is a premier hike, but it doesn’t fall into a bottom category either. It’s worth a spring trip when other peaks are still out of condition and you’re looking for mountain views, some exercise and fresh air.

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