Summit Elevation (m): 2114
Trip Date: December 07 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 605
Round Trip Time (hr): 2.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 7
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1/2 – you fall, you bruise whatever ego you have left.
Difficulty Notes: Very little difficulty other than steep slopes on the lower 1/3 of the route and some narrow (not exposed) ridge at the top.
Technical Rating: OT3
Map: Google Maps
After hiking Fly Hill earlier in the day and returning to my truck within 4 hours of leaving it, I debated with myself if I should relax and enjoy the drive home or push myself a wee bit harder and do another short objective in the area. I was 80% committed to the drive back but since “Old Dutch Man Peak” was so close and since I was feeling exactly like that (like an old Dutchman) it was simply too good to pass up. Matt Clay gets the honor of naming and advertising this particular front range “whack-a-mole” peak. He did it back in February 2019 with MUCH more snow than I had and completed a nice loop up and down two different south ridges. I was planning a simple route directly up and down the south ridge directly under the high point in order to save time and get down before dark. The Oldman River Road was horribly icy – some sections were so slick that I couldn’t use the brakes on any of the hills or risk sliding off the road! Gearing down in 4×4 was the only safe way to descend.
I parked slightly east of the end of the south ridge simply because there was a nice pullout along the road here. The south ridge looked dry above me and I slowly started putting one foot in front of the other up steep grassy slopes with open forest towards an obvious OHV track just ahead at the end of the ridge. As I started up the steep dirt track I was seriously impressed that any ATV could make it up (nevermind down) something this steep! I could barely hike straight up the tracks they were so sharply angled. The sun was warm on my back and despite tired legs I felt better than I had early on Fly Hill under a much cloudier sky. At this point I was following a good track along open slopes and silly me was expecting nothing but clear sailing all the way to the summit. I never learn do I… 😐
As I ascended along first an obvious OHV track and then a smaller single track my views west to Sugarloaf Lookout, Gould Dome and Tornado Mountain was stunning. Tornado Mountain (highest peak in the High Rock Range) was a favorite solo scramble from the summer and Gould Dome has been high on my to-do list for many years.
I hiked through some light forest (still following an obvious track) before ascending another steep open (grassy) slope and encountering the final 1/3 of the route to the top. It was here that I ran into somewhat more complex terrain. It wasn’t difficult but was slow travel with snow on sharp rocks and trees blocking the ridge top. I should have stayed on more open, snowy slopes to my right (east) as I did on descent. Oh well. The complexities were short-lived and after stumbling through some heavier forest just under the high point I summited at a small cairn and took in some surprisingly good views west to the High Rock Range and north over Kananaskis Country.
The hike back down was quick and quite pleasant. I stuck to the east under the rocky top 1/3 of the ridge following sheep tracks on frozen snow and grass. The late afternoon lighting was pleasant and provided nice views south to my earlier peak – Fly Hill and west to the High Rock Range.
Obviously a small “peak” like Old Dutch Man is never going to make any top 10 lists, but it certainly doesn’t make a bottom 10 either. 😉 As far as front and mid-range hikes goes, it’s a worthwhile late day or 1/2 day objective. I think I’d recommend doing the loop that Matt did simply to make it slightly longer and more interesting but other than that most hikers will enjoy this easy outing with great views of some gorgeous Divide peaks to the west.