Summit Elevation (m): 3102
Trip Date: Tuesday, August 03, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 1600
Round Trip Time (hr): 7.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 22
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: Some route-finding, steep exposed slabs with debris to the summit. Note: This route avoids 4th class slabs near the summit, otherwise it’s SC7.
Technical Rating: SC6; RE3/4
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
Way back in 2012 I had a great day on Mount Lougheed II and III via a route up Spencer Creek from the Spray Lakes road. In 2017 I finally managed to scramble the much more difficult Lougheed I with Cornelius Rott. The 4th peak of Lougheed, also known as “Wind Mountain” has been on my list the whole time thanks to a trip report from 2006 when Andrew Nugara posted an epic with James and his brother Mark. In 2011 So Nakagawa posted a report, also confirming that the mountain was not easy. He mentioned difficult slabs near the summit, something more and more folks were commenting on. Friends such as Ferenc and Grant combined Wind Mountain with nearby (and difficult) Ribbon Peak and Bogart Tower which seemed very impressive given Nugara’s time of over 12 hours and So’s time of 9-12 hours for the peak. Ferenc also mentioned difficult summit slabs that seemed harder than Nugara’s published rating of “moderate” for the route.
When Sonny Bou posted yet another trip report on July 26 2020 I knew it was my year to tackle this peak. Once again the upper slabs were mentioned, with both Sonny and Marta rating them more “difficult” than “moderate”. I decided to dig into things a bit and try to figure out why experienced and accomplished scramblers were calling the route difficult and why Nugara rated it moderate. I knew I’d have to get up and close to know for sure, but I strongly suspected that since Nugara traversed onto the south face from the south ridge that he might have taken a line that is not as obvious from directly below than it was from the south ridge. Tuesday, August 3rd dawned clear and cool and was the perfect day for a nice solo explor8ion. I parked at the Ribbon Creek lot and by 07:30 I was headed up a very different looking Ribbon Creek trail on my bike than last time I was up here with Sonny in 2012 on our Ribbon Peak / Bogart Tower scramble.
The trail up Ribbon Creek has been routed over more bridges than I remember from 2012 but was very bikeable for the most part. I had to push my bike up one hill after I powered out on a loose rock (hate that) but otherwise the 3.5km bike approach was quite pleasant. I was looking forward to the ride back all day. I locked my bike to a tree and started up the obvious trail leading to the Memorial Lakes up North Ribbon Creek. This trail started out familiar but after hitting the creek it too was changed quite a bit. The old trail stayed high on climber’s right of the creek on hardpan dirt and felt a bit exposed, especially when we hiked it with our kids. Now it crosses the creek on a good bridge and follows mild forest and soft moss on the left hand side before crossing over again and hooking up with the old trail.
I missed the turnoff from the North Ribbon Creek / Memorial Lakes trail to the Wind Mountain trail on ascent but it was no big deal. After getting a drink at the creek I hiked up the drainage creek and then up a steep bank to the obvious trail. I was having a great day so far, and coming into the upper alpine bowl south of the peak was another highlight. Wildflowers carpeted the ground under my 🦶 as I broke tree line and took in the wonderful atmosphere of the upper valley.
I knew better than to go up on the south ridge to my right or go anywhere except for valley bottom, so that’s what I did, heading for the south face ahead. There were two big snow patches that I used up to the low cliff blocking further access. There were multiple routes up the face through the cliffs, but I generally stuck to the middle and proceeded upward. Already from far down in the valley I’d spotted what I suspected might be my moderate route up to the summit, but of course I couldn’t be sure.
I was having a great day as I started following the terrain to my right, up to the obvious summit slabs. The sun was out, the scrambling was fun and quite straightforward and I was feeling good. I couldn’t believe this mountain was 1600 meters of height gain the way I was feeling – it felt more like 1000 at most. Right away I noticed that I was on a scree highway leading directly to the obvious difficult slabs under the summit. They didn’t look that bad from below but I knew they’d present more challenges on descent. I also knew (or very strongly suspected) that there was another route waiting for me just out of sight around a corner, so I went for it.
The route worked even better than I suspected it might. Once around the first corner there was a nice scree run up beside a cliff that led to another hidden corner. I ducked around that one and was looking up at some nice grippy, moderate slabs. Excellent! I proceeded up.
The grippy slabs weren’t too exposed and were quick and easy. Other than some scree and pebbles on top of them, this was definitely not difficult scrambling terrain and I really enjoyed it. The summit was a short walk away at this point. I was delighted to find the rather straightforward route! Views were awesome, as expected from a 3100m peak near the front ranges.
After 30 minutes or so spent reading a pretty full, original Alan Kane register (31 years old) it was time to descend. I retraced my steps down the moderate slabs, never feeling that they were very difficult at all. It was easier terrain than it looked, that’s for sure.
The route down the face was pretty quick and easy and soon I was pounding down an old moraine towards the valley below, passing a pretty chill herd of sheep on the way. I enjoyed another break in the wildflower meadows, enjoying the accomplishment of completing all four peaks of Mount Lougheed. The sun was warm as I continued down the trail towards the North Ribbon Creek trail and my waiting bike.
The bike ride back to the parking lot was insanely fun. I remembered the trail being fun before, but it’s twice as fun now! I wanted the ride to be twice as long too, unfortunately it’s a very quick ride at only 3.5 kms downhill almost the entire way. I had to be careful to avoid hikers and backpackers. For a Tuesday it seemed very busy. I was back in the parking lot 7.5 hours after leaving at what I felt was a very relaxed, fun pace. Wind Mountain was a very nice outing – a 10/10 as far as moderate scrambles go. With a bike approach, good trails to tree line and a fun route to a lofty summit, there really are no downsides that I can think of.