Oval Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 2900
Trip Date: August 18 2022
Elevation Gain (m): 300 (from the north shoulder)
Round Trip Time (hr): 2 (from the north shoulder)
Reference Trip: Wandering the White Goat Wilderness
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your ego.
Difficulty Notes: A remote peak with an easy ascent line once you’re all the way out there.
Technical Rating: SC5
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

It was already 15:00 as Sara and I started up the north shoulder of Oval Peak but we weren’t concerned. This peak looked exceedingly easy from afar and we thought we had plenty of time to burn anyway. Speaking of “burn”. As we bypassed the false summit on easy scree on a goat path, I noticed a strange white cloud forming over Afternoon Peak. I knew from my canoe trips that this wasn’t a normal cloud – it was a forest fire growing very very quickly! By the time we were on our final approach to the summit it looked like a volcano going off just behind Afternoon Peak. We had no idea at the time but the Banff wardens were conducting a controlled burn of the Alexandra River Valley and this was that fire. We wondered if we’d even be able to drive back on hwy #93 – the smoke was looking pretty intense!

Wandering the White Goat Wilderness Route Map

At the summit we were shocked to discover a very busy register for such a lowly and off-the-path peak. Two other people had already filled in their names since Ephraim Roberts placed the register in mid-July, one of them only a few days previous! That seemed very unlikely considering how quiet all the other registers had been. I guess people must think this is the real “Afternoon Peak” and it’s visible from the South Boundary Trail below but still… Odd to say the least!

Because we still thought we had so much time before camp, Sara chilled at the summit in a light breeze while I explored the plateau towards Afternoon Peak’s incredible north face.

A wildfire grows dramatically behind Afternoon Peak. We found out later this was a controlled burn in the Alexandra River Valley. Mount Willis and Athabasca to the right of Afternoon. I hiked south from the summit of Oval to get this perspective.
Views over Mount Frances to Lonely and Strong Winds Peak from Oval.
Views over Marble Mountain to Poboktan at left with Isaac, Chocolate and Aztec at right over the Brazeau River valley.

After taking at least 45 minutes on the summit of Oval, we decided that it was prudent to start heading down to our waiting overnight packs and make the long descent to the South Boundary Trail far below. We’d even spotted a bridge over the Brazeau River all the way from the summit so we knew where we were headed.

One thought on Oval Peak

  1. As these things go, many ascents in 2022 and then I was the first on the books over a year later!

    The forest on the lower slopes East of the Brazeau is nice and open and very pleasant hiking – just follow the general direction needed. I crossed the Brazeau at the old Cline pass route which avoided the willow bushwhacking around the river (made up for it the next day when I went to Cline pass) – also provides a more direct route. No bridge but easy crossing (admittedly river level is extremely low this year, but it seems to be something which is “commonly” used). Did not record a GPS track but found this trip route useful to have on hand as general guidance: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/white-goat-wilderness–2

    ps. also GREAT camping along a nice stream on a bed of heather and moss in valley SW of Opal (well into the WGW area) should people not want to repeat an 80km day exploit…

Leave a comment

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