On Saturday April 10 2010 Wietse and Naomi joined me on a relaxing outing to the summit of Hillcrest Mountain in the Crowsnest Pass. We got the idea for this mountain from Bob Spirko and Rick Collier. Originally we had planned on a ski trip up Crowfoot Mountain but with avalanche warnings in the red zone we thought it best to avoid as much snow as possible.
I was looking forward to a solo trip after a few busy family weekends in March 2010. On the 27th I got my chance and I grabbed it. Since the avalanche rating was high and the snow conditions complex, I abandoned my plan for a ski trip and turned to some different hiking options instead. With new snow in the front ranges west of Calgary I realized that I would be driving south for my solitude.
On Saturday, March 6 2010 I was joined by Scott Berry, JW and Janice to ski Vermillion Peak. We had a gorgeous day and sublime mountain views but on hindsight we probably should not have chosen this particular peak for an 8 degree day. The route up was clearly marked with a very hard packed track. The snow pack had about 2 inches of solid ice crust on top with facets underneath which did not inspire confidence in either the ongoing slope stability in the warm temps or for the ski back down. We followed the up track ’til there was a split just before the pass.
I woke the entire hut up at 07:00 on Sunday morning by turning on the stoves and lighting the lanterns. I paid for it by being recruited to help change the outhouse barrel!. I won’t go into detail on this except to say that the best way to ruin your morning appetite is to change an outhouse barrel. That is some nasty business my friends… By 08:30 we were packed up and ready to re-ascend the high col with heavier packs than the day before. I took some medication for my cold, hoping that it would be enough to get me through the day.
TJ’s alarm woke up the hut by going off repeatedly every 2 minutes for half an hour as TJ slept blissfully unaware of the annoyance with his industrial strength ear plugs. By 07:00 Ben had the lights on and the water boiling and we reluctantly left our warm sleeping bags for breakfast. TJ finally decided it was time to wake up and shut down his alarm. I barely managed to choke down some Nutri-grain cereal bars and some instant Starbucks coffee while TJ and Ben stuffed themselves with as much oatmeal as humanly possible.
On Thursday, February 18 2010 a group of us lit up the interweb with a flurry of emails regarding the upcoming weekend. The reason we were so excited was the weather forecast’s promise of an imminent stretch of bluebird days over the Rockies, specifically in the Wapta Icefields area. The Wapta is like any other ice field in the Rockies. If there’s even one measly little cloud in the forecast, chances are very high that you will be experiencing a white out once you get onto the glacier. It’s just the way the weather patterns work with large expanses of snow and ice when there’s any moisture around. Another bonus was the very favorable avalanche reports – somewhat of a rarity for a February snow pack in Alberta.
On Saturday, January 23 2010 I joined a nice large group of friends for a jaunt up Burstall Pass Peak in the Burstall Pass area of Kananaskis. Since I had a bat attitude (or “battitude”) on the evening before, I decided to sleep in an extra hour and try to catch the rest of the group on the way up the pass. I was a bit bummed out on the drive to K-country because the weather was very grey and depressing. I was starting to think sleeping in would have been a great idea.
After spending the previous two days ascending Mounts Inglismaldie and Whymper I was ready for either a shorter day or even a day off. So I decided that a nice 1500 meter elevation day was in order. Huh? OK, originally I was going to do Copper Mountain with Harvey but he decided to do another objective that I’ve already done so I decided I would do Mount Burgess in Yoho National Park, solo, instead.
Summit Elevation (m): 2845Elevation Gain (m): 1250Trip Time (hr): 4Total Trip Distance (km): 7Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something. Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling with some route finding to keep it moderate. Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)GPS Track: DownloadMap: Google Maps I’d been saving Mount Whymper for a solo outing when I didn’t have a whole bunch of time. On Wednesday, September 30 2009 I found myself dropping the kids off at school at 08:00 with a full day ahead […]
Summit Elevation (m): 2964 Elevation Gain (m): 1450 Trip Time (hr): 8 Total Trip Distance (km): 16 Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you sprain or break something Difficulty Notes: A classic Kane moderate where the line looks harder than it is. Definitely easier when snow free. Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)GPS Track: Download Map: Google Maps Mount Inglismaldie has held my interest for quite some time already. I’ve intended to scramble up it every spring before all the snow melts, presumably to make the descent […]
After ascending Mount Daly the day before, we were up at 07:00 and ready for an easier day on Mount Niles. We got what we wanted. Mount Niles is a much shorter and simpler scramble than Daly is. There’s no glacier, no cliff bands and really no route finding if you stick to the trail / cairns. We ascended the same drainage as the day before and got to the upper meadow. From there we descended slightly to climber’s left and made for the pinnacle, following cairns through the boulder field.
On September 25 2009 my brother Rod and I headed into Sherbrooke Lake and beyond in Yoho National Park to see what all the fuss over Niles Meadows and it’s neighboring peaks, Mount Daly and Niles was. The fuss is well founded, as it turns out! The hike to Sherbrooke Lake gained more elevation than I expected. We gained about 200 vertical meters before the lake already – and felt it with the bigger packs! Rod is a flat lander from Winnipeg and he did pretty darn good considering! Just wait till he turns 30.
Just as I was lamenting the fact that the gorgeous fall weather was sure to end without me taking advantage of it my email dinged with a message from the crazy Pol – Raf. He was asking me if I would be interested in scrambling up Mount Sarbach. Yep! I would be very interested! Arrangements were hastily made. Raf picked me up at 04:45 at my house and 3 hours later we were at the trailhead. There was some haze in the air but the weather was perfect – calm and sunny.
I decided to end a 4 day peak bagging party (Monday – Pilot / Brett, Tuesday – Burstall / Storm, Wednesday – Fox) with a jaunt up Mount Bogart. (NOTE: Since the floods of 2013, the approach route and even the route itself may have changed significantly so beware that the GPS track will be off.)
Since I had scrambled Mounts Pilot, Brett, Burstall and Storm over the previous 2 days I figured it was time for a short and easy mountain. I chose Mount Fox. Short? No. Easy? No. Oh well. Fun? Yes! I was joined by Harvey, an active scrambler and hiker from Calgary who I was introduced to by Marta.
After scrambling up and down Burstall Mountain in 3 hours on September 01 2009 I was sitting in my car driving back to my camp in Elkwood thinking, “now what do I do the rest of the day?!”. Since I had scrambled Brett and Pilot the day before I thought I would want a short and easy day but I strangely felt myself wondering if I could possibly still bag another peak since the rain clouds from the morning had dissipated and I was left with a warm and sunny afternoon.
After scrambling Mount Pilot and Brett the day before and driving all the way to Elkwood campground in Kananaskis I was ready for a shorter and easier day. I chose to finally do Mount Burstall since it had been on my radar for a long time already.
Summit Elevation (m): 2984 Elevation Gain (m): 2400 Trip Time (hr): 10 Total Trip Distance (km): 25 Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break something or worse Difficulty Notes: Easy alternate descent is the way to go on this one! Difficult scrambling on the ridge described by Kane. Note: This trip combines both Pilot and Brett with a bike approach. Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)GPS Track: Download Map: Google Maps After ascending Pilot Mountain I decided to take advantage of the long approach up the […]
On Monday, August 31 2009 I decided to attempt Pilot Mountain and Mount Brett as a day trip. Both of these mountains are rated ‘difficult’ by Alan Kane and both of them deserve this rating. I knew that I was in for a long day and was hesitant about doing it solo but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and go with it – and I’m glad I did!
Summit Elevation (m): 2998 Elevation Gain (m): 1650 Trip Time (hr): 5.5 Total Trip Distance (km): 20 Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain or break something Difficulty Notes: If there’s snow on the upper traverse / crux this is no longer a scramble and can be dangerous. Wait until its completely dry. Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (Hiking)GPS Track: Download Map: Google Maps On Saturday August 29, 2009 I decided to make a solo attempt at scrambling up the popular Cascade […]
Summit Elevation (m): 2744 Elevation Gain (m): 1000 Trip Time (hr): 5.5 Total Trip Distance (km): 10 Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something Difficulty Notes: Easy hiking and scrambling on trail. Technical Rating: TL4; YDS (Hiking)GPS Track: Download Map: Google Maps On Thursday, August 27 2009 I took my whole family up Mount Fairview to check out what it looks like in the summer after previous doing it with my brother in April of 2004. Even the dog made […]
On August 25, 2009 I got together with Marta and scrambled Protection Mountain, a.k.a. Television Peak in Banff National Park. I had heard lots from Marta on the RMBooks Web Board and read many of her trip reports with interest but we had never done a scramble or climb together.
Summit Elevation (m): 2776Elevation Gain (m): 1050Trip Time (hr): 6Total Trip Distance (km): 17Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling on the Kane route, note that the approach is on a decommissioned trail with deteriorating conditions. Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)GPS Track: Download Map: Google Maps After scrambling Mount Chephren Keith Bott and I bivied in the Waterfowl Lakes campground with high hopes to summit Mount Sarbach the following day, August 09, 2009. […]
After a solo scramble on Observation Peak, I met up with Keith Bott for the trek into the bivy on Mount Chephren on August 07 2009 in the evening. I had Chephren on the radar for a long time already and finally all the pieces of life aligned to allow me a good chance at this giant. And make no mistake about it. Chephren is every bit the giant you may have heard or suspected it is! Just gaze at it from the highway sometime and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how big this mountain really is.