A 3.5 day journey into the heart of Banff National Park triangulated by the Pipestone, Clearwater and Siffleur Rivers.
Obviously this is an unofficial summit but I don’t care about that sort of thing anymore. I expected some spectacular views and a fairly easy ascent based on photos from Molar and Molarstone peaks. I planned the excursion as a day trip via the Mosquito Creek / North Molar Pass trail and the weekend of August 17th presented me with a good opportunity for a solo explor8ion.
Was it really possible that the mountain was so often ascended yet we could find no trip reports other than Jason Thompson’s FA account in a 1995 ACC Journal article? Silly I know, but it was jarring to see so many other people in the area.
When we crested Shale Pass we were surprised by the dramatic NE aspect of Chirp Peak with its unique rock formations and many water courses running down its sides into Peters Creek far below.
Where do I even start with this report? I guess I’ll just start at the beginning and see where this story goes as I access my overloaded memory banks…
On March 23, Phil Richards and I hiked up a snowy Sheep Creek and scrambled Winchester Ridge. From the ridge we enjoyed spectacular views over the Dormer River towards Dormer Mountain and started to plan what kind of adventure would get us to its summit.
I was feeling let down by the dismal September weather and with one last day off before going back to work for the winter, I decided to risk the crappy forecast and drive down to the Crowsnest Pass to try my luck with a few last summits on Monday, October 1 2018. My original plan was to scramble Deadman’s Peak and then if I had energy remaining, do the bike ‘n hike of Willoughby Peak. As I drove closer to the pass, I noticed copious amounts of fresh snow since my visit only 5 days earlier when I scrambled Mount Coulthard and McLaren.
After a sublime day on Mount Denny the day before, I was not keen on sitting out the rest of the weekend despite a pretty dismal weather forecast. After downgrading objectives a few times, I settled on an easy scramble / hike to Buller Creek Peak as outlined in Andrew Nugara’s, More Scrambles guidebook. The weather was looking pretty gray as I parked in the Buller Creek / Pass parking lot along the Spray Lakes road but as I got ready I noticed a ton of vehicles pulling into the lot behind me. Apparently I wasn’t the only one determined to get out despite the clouds and rain! As I marched out of the lot towards the trail head, I was surprised to recognize two of the folks in a large group of hikers.
Summit Elevation (m): 2310Trip Date: Sunday, May 13, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 850Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 15.5Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your wristDifficulty Notes: Almost all the scrambling sections on this ridge can be avoided. This is mainly a hike with some routefinding if you do the loop like we did. There are options for difficult scrambling. GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words On Saturday while driving back to YYC with Wietse after scrambling Cougar Peak, I […]
Hanneke had a rare opportunity to join me for a hike on Sunday, May 6th 2018 so I figured I should take advantage of that. I was determined not to make her wade through the knee deep snow drifts that I kept ending up in over the past few weeks and decided that surely Stony Ridge in the Highwood area of Kananaskis would be dry by now? Yeah…The past few weeks have seen me drive past Black Diamond and Longview a few times, including a solo jaunt up Three Cairns, Hell’s Ridge and Mount Mann.
Summit Elevation (m): 2066Trip Date: Friday, May 4, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 1050Round Trip Time (hr): 8.5Total Trip Distance (km): 22.5Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you’re stupidDifficulty Notes: No difficulties other than some routefinding and choosing the right conditions (early or late season).GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words There isn’t a ton to say about this hike to be honest with you. Phil and I were planning a much “sexier” peak for Friday, May the 4th (be with you), […]
After completing a very pleasant scramble / hike on Etherington-Baril Ridge I stupidly decided that I should cap off a perfect day with a jaunt up something named, “Hell’s Ridge”. What was I thinking?! It could be convincingly argued that I was so overcome with the powerful elixirs of Spring that I wasn’t thinking at all…
Since it was a gorgeous day and it only took me approximately 2 hours to bag my first summit of the day, I figured I might as well wander up a couple more summits before heading back to the concrete jungle. I drove a few kms back along Maclean Creek trail (hwy 549) before parking near another well site belonging to Pengrowth, along yet another access road. I chose to leave the snowshoes in the truck for this hike, and proceeded up the road in very pleasantly warm sunshine. I was questioning my choice to leave the ‘shoes behind as I forked off the main (dry) road and started up an icy / snowy side track leading towards the lower Jack Hill.
Summit Elevation (m): 1738Trip Date: Sunday, April 22, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 370Round Trip Time (hr): 2Total Trip Distance (km): 7.2Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you’re stupidDifficulty Notes: No difficulties other than finding good conditions that don’t involve endless post holing or severe bushwhacking.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words There’s not much to say about Death’s Head, other than it’s name is very dramatic compared to it’s reality. I wanted to spend Earth Day (April 22, 2018) hiking in warm […]
You know it’s been a long winter when Phil and I go up a treed bump with no summit views after work in April. To be fair it was 13 degrees outside as we parked near the municipal building in the small hamlet of Exshaw. Kids were roaming the streets playing their after school games and the sounds of birds chirping over top of happy kids, playing in the warm afternoon sunshine was very pleasant.
On Wednesday, September 27 2017 I was joined by Trevor Boyce for an easy hike and traverse of Odlum Ridge, deep in Kananaskis Country just east of the Continental Divide and south of Highwood Pass. Our plan was to take advantage of the great weather with views of larches and aesthetic mountains in the background. We were not disappointed! Why such a tame objective? First of all, this was our first time out together. Trevor is the person responsible for getting Cornelius Rott into scrambling. After recently scrambling Lougheed I with Cornelius, I was keen to meet the guy who’d gotten him so interested in our favorite pastime.
Summit Elevation (m): 2820Trip Date: Monday, September 25, 2017Elevation Gain (m): 1700Round Trip Time (hr): 7.5Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you are sillyDifficulty Notes: No difficulties other than having the motivation to slog to the summit after presumably already scrambling nearby Mount Howard Douglas.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words After a delightful easy / moderate scramble up Mount Howard Douglas, it was time to add a second peak to my day. Why? Don’t ask. […]
After a long outing the week before to the Egypt Lakes area and a somewhat gloomy weather forecast, I decided to play it safe on Saturday, September 23 2017 with a nice fall hike on the western edge of the Lake O’Hara region in Yoho National Park. Wietse decided to join me on this venture. I found Consummation Peak while perusing the ViewRanger Landscape maps in areas that I knew had larches. There was only one trip report online for this minor summit and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for – something fairly low (not in the clouds) and easy (there was fresh snow).
Andrew Nugara had told me about a new peak he was adding to his latest guidebook already in 2016 in exchange for some of my photos in said book. He claimed that the views both on route and on the summit of this peak were some of the best he’d ever had in the Rockies – an opinion us peakbaggers seem to have alarmingly often about every new peak we ascend! 🙂 Of course with that sort of ringing endorsement, I had no choice but to add Molarstone Peak to my summit list and secretly planned to combine it with Cataract Peak.
After spending a glorious day at the Lake of the Horns, KC and I awoke to yet another day of brilliant sunshine on the last day of our 5 day backpacking trip along the southern Highwood peaks on the Great Divide. Our plans for the day would be to take my slightly easier alternate descent down the Lake of the Horns headwall before picking up a horse outfitters trail that was rumored to circle towards our last peak of the trip – The Hill of the Flowers.
After a few intense days of backpacking and scrambling five summits, Kaycie and I were ready for a relaxing day by a gorgeous and remote backcountry lake. So that’s exactly what we did. When doing research for our trip, I’d relied heavily on Matt Clay’s August, 2015 trip where he and Sandra backpacked into Weary Creek Gap before traversing up and over Mount Muir before being turned back at the Carnarvon Lake chains. I had changed things up, based on his experience, choosing to ascend, rather than descend the chains. Since our original plans called for a much longer trip, I was keen to extend ours by at least a day and came up with an intriguing option to spend a day and night camping at Lake of the Horns (LOTH) from our Weary Creek headwall bivy.
After a very pleasant scramble on Labyrinth Mountain, Wietse and I still had plenty of gas in the tank to go for a second summit. Due to the crossing of the Red Deer River and a shared approach via horse track along Wolf Creek, it makes very good sense to tackle both Labyrinth Mountain and Mount Minos on the same day. I do have some advice if you follow our idea though. Definitely do NOT ascend Minos first. If you ascend Minos first, you will not ascend Labyrinth afterwards. You will be largely unmotivated after Minos, I think!
On Wednesday, April 8 2015, I climbed Mount Athabasca with Ferenc in perfect spring conditions. This left me wanting more in the way of snow ascents, hopefully on skis, for the weekend of April 11/12. Alas, the weather report didn’t bode well for a nice summit on skis. Rather than a suffer-fest in blizzard conditions, I decided another hike in the front ranges was in order. You probably can’t tell, but this year has been all about one area when it comes to hiking / easy scrambling in front ranges – Ya Ha Tinda.
On Saturday, November 22 2014, Wietse and I finally managed to get another trip in together. It’s been a while since we managed to clear our schedules and match objectives so it was nice to get out again. Our destination was two small front range summits in the Bluerock Provincial Park area of Kananaskis west of Turner Valley up the Gorge Creek Road. When I did Missinglink and Dot Mountain exactly one year previous in 2013, the Gorge Creek road was still washed out near the start. It is now filled back in and goes a few more kilometers to a parking area on the west side of the road (you are forced into this parking lot by a barricade across the road).
As part of a father / daughter backpacking trip over the last weekend of summer 2014, I decided it was time to take Kaycie on a real back country adventure instead of front country ‘easy’ stuff. She was game for something a bit more rustic after our bivy on White Buddha back in May. I had my eye on a trip that Rick Collier did as his first overnight solo in 1985. I was fairly confident that nobody had replicated Rick’s trip in the 29 years since he did it and I was intrigued to bivy in a remote area of Banff National Park that I’d never been in before.