I’ve wanted to scramble Mount Bryant for a while already. We’d gone past the mountain back when we scrambled Mount Howard and I met So Nakagawa for the first time afterwards – he’d just come back from Bryant. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular but I was very pleasantly surprised by this outing. First of all, it felt quite remote. I stopped several times in the creek bed on approach and listened to the sound of silence – a very pleasant sound. The creek approach is also surprisingly fun and easy, thanks to a great trail that runs along the sides.
I don’t have very many (any?) GR’s in my summit log. (Grid References, or unnamed summits). The reason is obvious – without a named summit it’s hard for others to relate what the heck you’re referring to if you simply reference a number! Lately I’ve been reconsidering this logic. I actually like going up obscure peaks and out-of-the-way spots and calling everything by it’s GR might be kind of fun…
On a late September day in 2011, Hanneke and I spent a few hours hiking the gorgeous Pocaterra Cirque and Ridge near the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country. This area is known for its colorful larch displays and it didn’t disappoint! We enjoyed warm weather and calm winds.
I found myself with a few hours to kill so I did the quick drive out to the Dawson Equestrian Area, just off the Sibbald Creek Trail (hwy #68) on the Powderface Trail Road. The trail leaves near the entrance to the parking lot – a bit confusing but once you find it you should cross a bridge across the creek almost immediately. Take the first obvious trail off to your right (signed) and follow to the summit. I was expecting more people on such a fine late summer day and was a bit nervous hiking solo through the berry patches. When I started finding bear scat on the trail my energy increased a bit.
On Friday, September 16 2011, I found myself with a day off and no scrambling partners. The weather had initially looked quite nasty for the icefields parkway regions but a glance at the weather forecast at 05:00 on Friday morning had me jumping in the truck and driving out to the trail head. I knew I’d have clouds and rain or snow, but the promise of some sunny breaks lured me out anyway.
Andrew Nugara’s trip report from Mount French is what attracted me to this wonderful peak. Great views, 3rd highest peak in K-country and some severe exposure to test hardened scramblers sounded like the perfect objective for a nice summer day. My goal for 2011, if I had one, was to try some more difficult scrambles and start doing more Alpine climbing, especially those involving relatively simple glacier ascents. I started the year well by skiing a bunch of peaks on simple glaciated terrain and soloing the west ridge of Baldy in the rain. I think I ended the summer fairly well too – with an ascent of Mount French with So Nakagawa as my company for the day.
On Friday, September 09 2011 I joined Sonny Bou for a scramble up Mount Vaux in Yoho National Park. (Note: when Sonny and I scrambled Vaux it wasn’t in a guidebook or nearly as popular as it is today.) Mount Vaux is not your every day scrambling objective.
On Friday, August 26 2011, So Nakagawa and I ascended Cathedral Mountain under a gorgeous early morning sky from our bivy site near the glacier. Cathedral is one of the most picturesque mountains I’ve ever climbed and this makes it into a top summit for me. Given the very cooperative weather over August, I knew that I wanted to climb something with a glacier and a bivy on the weekend of August 26th. Originally I was contemplating Mount Wilson but after thinking about it for a while, I realized that Cathedral Mountain was even higher on my ‘hit list’. Why? For the past 3 years I’ve been trying to find perfect conditions to ski Cathedral but every time those conditions arose (not that often) I had other commitments and couldn’t do it.
Since school was just around the corner (where does time go?!) and Hanneke, my wife, was on call for the weekend, we decided that the weekend of August 19-21, 2011 would be a good weekend for a father / kids adventure. After some debate, the kids and I decided that Yoho would be a cool place to camp and the Burgess Shale guided tour would be a pretty awesome thing to try! Of course, since I’m a peakbagger and we had another two days to do other things besides the shale tour, I found us a nice peak to bag on Saturday, August 20.
After hiking and scrambling up Boundary Peak near the Columbia Icefields, the kids and I took advantage of a beautiful late summer day and checked out the impressive Panther Falls, located near the Bridal Veil Falls parking area off Hwy #93 just uphill from the Big Bend.
After an approach to the des Poilus glacier and an ascent of Yoho Peak, I found myself oversleeping my alarm on Sunday, August 14 – our planned ascent day for Mount Des Poilus. The moon was so bright as I emerged from my bivy sack, that I was casting a shadow! The full moon would only make our ascent of the glacier easier. Raf and Alan were getting up too, and soon the water was boiling for breakfast. It was very warm, around 8 degrees at camp as we roped up and set off up the glacier by 04:30.
Mount Des Poilus has been on my radar for quite some time. Originally it was always a ski objective but lately I’d also been looking at it as a possible summer peak. After reading Andrew Nugara’s one day ascent of Yoho Peak and a separate (impressive!!) one day climb of Mount Des Poilus I had the brilliant idea to combine the two with a bivy to eliminate two long day trips and a repeat of the somewhat tedious approach. When Raf indicated that he was also interested in Des Poilus as a summer trip, I told him of my plan to spend 1.5 days near the Des Poilus glacier and combining Yoho and Des Poilus into one trip. He loved the idea. On August 13 & 14 2011 we were joined by Alan Fortune for this little adventure.
On Tuesday, August 09 2011, Wietse and I scrambled to the summit of Mount Noyes in Banff National Park. This scramble is uncanny in it’s similarities to Mount Weed, the mountain just to the south of Noyes. As awesome as the views from Weed are, I would have to say that Mount Noyes is a more enjoyable scramble, or it certainly was for me. The main difference between Weed and Noyes is that Weed is pretty straightforward route-finding and a fairly typical Rockies approach. The route finding on Noyes isn’t nearly as straightforward and there are some hidden gems along the way. I had more fun on the Noyes approach than I can remember on any recent approach over the past couple of years.
On Sunday, July 24 2011 I was joined by So Nakagawa and Ali for a jaunt up Mount Ishbel in Banff National Park near Hillside Meadows. Over the years Ishbel has become a bit of an obsession for me simply because when you drive home from anywhere west of the Castle Mountain junction you get an amazing view of the long ridge of Ishbel rising up to an impressive summit. Also, over the past few years a number of friends have done the mountain and have come back with stories of a hands-on difficult scrambling experience and varying degrees of satisfaction with the ascent. The descent down the east face is almost always described as being much more involved – most parties rappel at least some portion of it.
One of my goals for the 2011 canoe trip was to make it feel like we were on a route we hadn’t done before, despite having done a very similar route in 2009. One way to make this happen was by doing it in reverse from our previous outing. I also added some variations – obviously these could be ignored depending on weather and other factors.
On Saturday, June 18 2011 Wietse, Kevin (Papke) and I stole a day on Mosquito Mountain along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. The weather forecast was dreary but we all really wanted to get out and stand on a summit. I’d been planning a fall trip up Mosquito for a few years already, but since So posted a TR from early June on this summit I thought “why not do it now” and so we made plans.
On Sunday, June 12 2011 I decided that I needed a break from work and headed off to the mountains for some “me” time. I had an idea in the back of my mind that if the weather looked decent I would attempt a short, but difficult, scramble out of Andrew Nugara’s book – Mount Baldy via the West Ridge. As I drove into K-country I noticed that the weather was cooperating. There was a mix of sun and cloud with some scattered showers but nothing too dramatic.
Hanneke was in Edmonton for the weekend, so we decided to go for a pleasant Sunday afternoon hike with the kids, dog and I. The only place free enough of snow on this gorgeous weekend was McConnell Ridge, so we gave that a try and it worked out beautifully.
On Good Friday, April 22, 2011 I took my brother in law, Mike up his very first Rockies peak. He chose to attempt his first peak on alpine touring gear, which I thought was very admirable considering you can’t really find a more physically challenging way to climb a mountain than with huge skis and boots attached to your feet!
Summit Elevation (m): 2868Trip Date: April 09 2011Elevation Gain (m): 1000Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you break your leg. Unless you’re caught in an avalanche – then you could die.Difficulty Notes: Winter ascent includes serious avalanche risks. Learn how to manage these risks and perform avalanche burial rescues before attempting this trip. Technical Rating: OT4 – Skiing; YDS (3rd)GPS Track: DownloadMap: Google Maps On Saturday, April 09 2011 So and I did the Bow Peak […]
On Sunday March 27, 2011 So Nakagawa and I skied to the summit of Crowfoot Mountain under a clear, nearly windless spring / winter day. I haven’t stood on a peak since I scrambled Midnight Peak way back on October 30 2010! I think that 5 months between peaks has to be some sort of new record for me. The last few outings I’ve had to the Rockies have been marked by cloud, wind and dreariness. So and I were both looking forward to a nice spring day with sunshine and melting snow but we knew that this was unlikely.
I made it this time! After a previous attempt at the summit of Jimmy Simpson with Raff and Josh in January of 2007 I returned 3.5 years later and bagged it via the other side on a gorgeous fall day. Ironically there was probably more snow in October than we had on our first attempt in January. Originally I had a trip planned with Kerry to do Cathedral Mountain. Due to fresh snow of unknown quantity and an aversion to a 03:00 wake-up time we canceled those plans on Friday evening. I knew what I’d replace it with – I was in the mood to try a solo jaunt up Jimmy Simpson.
After scrambling up Mount Schaffer on Thursday, I decided that a long hike followed by a scramble up Wiwaxy Peaks would be in order for Friday, October 1 2010. I was hiking by around 07:30 on Friday. The air was crisp and cool but the sky was clear and I felt great after a pretty good sleep in the hut. Huts can be extremely noisy and cramped but stuffing my ears with TP combined with being pretty tired after a long day and a wake up time of 04:00 helped me sleep despite the snoring of Bob the artist beside me!
After spending one of the most enjoyable and gorgeous fall days of my hiking / scrambling life the day before on Schaffer, McArthur Lake and All Souls Prospect, I woke up on Friday morning, the first day of October ready for another fantastic outing. I was hiking over frost-nipped ground by around 07:30 after breakfast and an excellent cup of Starbucks instant coffee. The air was crisp and cool but the sky was clear and I felt great after a pretty good sleep in the hut.