As I wandered back along first the small Headwall Lakes trail and then the much larger Snowdrift trail to the Chester Lake parking lot I reflected on all my 2021 scrambles and trips and the ideas that I’m considering regarding explor8ion and lifting all of the restrictions I put in place last year. As I wrote in the original article on changes to explor8ion, change is inevitable and I am changing my mind on some of the issues I was thinking about back then.
I loved this hike even more than I thought I would. Sure! It’s overused and over photographed and definitely overshared but that doesn’t change the fact that I had a wonderful time with my daughter enjoying some of the best views of my year from this lowly objective. And that’s what it all comes down to in the end isn’t it? Sharing nature and fresh air while exercising with loved ones and being amazed over and over with stunning views of wild landscapes in all directions. The fact that thousands of others have shared this experience shouldn’t lessen it but should encourage us to seek out new experiences rather than going back to the same ones over and over. I won’t be back to Smutwood in the fall any time soon but I sure am thankful for this particular trip.
I loved this traverse. The only thing that would have made it slightly better would have been clearer skies and a drier route. The mix of challenging terrain and conditions, great views over low-lying clouds and wild landscape scenery in every direction is what I look for in a scramble and on that front this day delivered in spades. A highly recommended trip for fit parties with enough scrambling experience to tackle some stiff moderate sections of very loose Rockies treasure.
Despite the unexpected and sometimes unnerving winds that we experienced all day, I quite enjoyed both Mount Scrimger and Etherington. Combining these peaks into a day trip makes perfect sense for fit parties who don’t mind 25km of cycling as part of their day. If I had to pick one peak it would definitely be Mount Scrimger for a more engaging route, better views and the bonus of the NW outlier. Mount Etherington isn’t nearly as tragic as Nugara implies but I have to admit that it’s also not the most pleasant peak I’ve been on this year. Just as with Nugara however, I don’t know how much of my feelings for it are a result of weather conditions or the actual mountain itself. The wind was getting mighty annoying by the time we summited our second peak of the day.
I was hoping to take advantage of one of the nicest, clearest days of August 2021 with a big trip on Sunday the 29th but alas, my body wouldn’t allow it. 🙁 After almost 5 weeks absence from mountains and then a big day with Cornelius on Aldridge and Courcelette the day before, my body was letting me know that if I pushed it too hard I’d regret it for my favorite month of the year – September. I couldn’t simply sit at home either though, so I finally pulled the trigger on a front range peak sitting in my backyard only ~45 minutes from my house.
What a great day! I highly recommend this trip for anyone with strong biking stillz and a desire to suffer a bit. You have the option of adding even more peaks to the day such as Bolton or Armstrong. If you are currently hating on loose rock or scree I would set up camp at one of the gorgeous tarns along this route and take out a good book or a glass of wine and call it a day. 😉
I really enjoyed this three or four peak outing despite the lack of a good approach trail and the thick smoke on Cone Mountain. It always surprises me how many fairly prominent peaks continue to stand on their own for many years between ascent parties (recorded anyway). This trip summarizes what I love about the Alberta Rockies – accessible but remote. Over a very popular trail system but rarely ascended. Views to die for, acres of wildflowers and cascading waterfalls hidden by high rock walls on all sides. Lakes and tarns that are only visible from nearby or from space only add to the attraction.
Obviously dry conditions and knowing there’s a trail and roughly where to find it is key to keeping Mount Oliver to a reasonable day trip. I really enjoyed this front range scramble (apparently the highest front range peak in Banff) and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get off the beaten path and onto a much more rudimentary one. The highlights of the trip for me weren’t even the mountain but rather the upper stretches of North Burnt Timber Creek, the sidewalk east ridge and the remote and very quiet nature of the area.
I enjoyed the ascent of Apparition Mountain very much. The early evening lighting, the sneaky route through the cliffs and the exposed ridge walk near the summit block all added up to more engagement than I expected when planning this scramble. At less than 2.5 hours round trip from a camp at Spectral Lakes it’s an obvious no-brainer for anyone brave enough to stay overnight in such a ghost themed area!
I highly recommend Revenant Mountain for competent scramblers. The mountain itself is almost easy after the somewhat involved approach to the Spectral Lakes. The east face is complex but the route opens up once you’re on it, guiding you forward and up to the south ridge. The scrambling is engaging enough to keep you distracted from all the work you’ve done to get there. A favorite for me and a very nice feather in my scrambling cap – one I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.
I am thoroughly delighted to have finally completed a successful solo adventure into the Spectral Lakes area. I know that people wander up summits and don’t write their names in the registers but as far as recorded ascents go, being the 5th and 4th ascent in 27 years on Revenant and Apparition respectively is a nice feeling. I highly recommend this trip for those who like some adventure with their cornflakes and I use that word literally here. You might not get all the peaks on day 1 or even day 3 but you are guaranteed to have some adventure while trying!
Despite a terrible bug experience along the Forty Mile Creek trail, I can’t rave about this route on Sira Peak enough. This peak goes into my top 10 easy remote summits for several reasons including the lovely approach trail, incredible fields of flowers, lovely tarns and lofty summit views. The fact that so few people bother with this officially unnamed “V10” summit despite its 3000 meter apex only makes me love it even more. Highly recommended for backpackers who are in the area or fit parties as a relatively straightforward day trip from the Norquay ski resort.
The very fact that we looked at all the shitty snow and gray cloud on day one and said, “sure – we can handle this” is the thing that will make this particular trip extra special in the memory banks. Travelling over 72 kilometers in just over 1.5 days including 3 peaks in less-than-ideal conditions leaves an impression. I’m not saying it’s all a unicorns and fresh roses impression, but it’s a wild ride that won’t fade as quickly as some others I have stored in there somewhere! As of my writing this a week later my toes are still recovering from the harsh beating but the rest of me wants to go back up the Ram River sooner than later.
I enjoyed Idlewilde much more than I thought I would and can easily recommend it as an easy, quiet hike when you only have time for something small and are in the area.
Baseline Mountain isn’t my favorite peak in the area but should be considered for anyone who finds themselves in bad weather after a long drive – it’s still a (small) mountain and likely has decent views on a reasonable day.
I loved the Ram Mountain hike and will likely repeat it again some day with family or friends if I’m in the area. The views are far reaching and the hiking is easy and consistent grade all the way up to the upper mountain.
What can I say about this area in summary? Well, to make a long story short – it’s worth the fight to access it but you will have to earn its charms one way or the other.
Sentry Peak is a lovely viewpoint situated in the heart of Banff National Park at its eastern boundary with views of Malloch, Mamen and Wampum Peak.
Lost Guide Peak feels like a special peak to me. To be honest, most of my ascents are special for their own reasons but this particular peak feel much like some other locals that I’ve done such as Condor, Bellow, Howl and Tomahawk.
Scalp Peak and Skeleton Mountain are some of those front range mountains that sat on my list for a while before finally getting direct attention late last year after Wietse and I hiked two nearby peaks – Well Site and Hat Mountain. I highly recommend combining these two peaks into a single trip. The only question left to you is how many days you’ll set aside for it. 😉
I had a nice day traveling in a “new” area with some unique views but there is enough route finding, bushwhacking and stumbling around on this ridge to justify perhaps waiting for the easier west access roads to dry off before tackling it.
Reflecting on the day, we enjoyed some great spring hiking and managed almost 2k vertical and ~27km of hiking – not bad for some front range bumps and hills! This sort of trip isn’t something we like to do all the time but it’s the perfect kind of spring day that gets done a couple of times each year as the ski season slowly transitions to the hiking / scrambling / climbing one.
Limestone Mountain is definitely worth doing but likely not as a sole objective if you’re driving the 2.5-3 hours from Calgary to the trailhead. We were happy to do it as the primary summit – one that actually has great views.
If you choose a warm, windless day make sure you give yourself time to enjoy Ephraim’s summit register goodies and this just might be a top 10 peak after all! It was a perfect mental health day to wander around by myself for a few hours and bag a new peak with familiar great views and atmosphere.
I meet the same folks time and again and have run into more friends here than anywhere else in the Rockies. And why not? It’s about 45 minutes west of my house, boasts 650m of height gain and only takes around 1.5 hours in decent conditions.