Friday July 05 2013 was a perfect day to escape Calgary (Stampede parade day…) so a group us did what we always try to do when we ‘escape’ – namely bag a peak! Steven, Wietse, Dave and I would join Kevin, Kelly and Scott along hwy 93 in Kootenay National Park and ascend something there. On the drive up we debated about the original destination – Mount Wardle. We weren’t too enthused about a possible 1000 vertical meter bushwhack and subsequently made a decision to tackle the much more pleasant Numa Mountain instead.
On Saturday, June 15, 2013 I took my family up King Creek Ridge for a pleasant hike in beautiful spring weather. We followed a good trail right from the parking lot and had no issues other than the tiny moderate scrambling step just before the true summit of the ridge which Hanneke didn’t bother with and Niko didn’t really appreciate (but he did it!!).
Admittedly, after standing on the summits of 3 11,000ers only a few days previous, “Parker Ridge” does seem a bit lame. 🙂 But there’s a reason for this objective. The original intent was to climb Mount Athabasca via the AA col on Friday, May 10 2013 with Wietse, Scott, Kelly and myself. We planned an overnight stay at the Rampart Creek Hostel and met there on Thursday evening. Patrick Delaney, a guide with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures was also at the hostel with a client and we spent some time chatting. Patrick was concerned about the “big melt” that was going on and cautioned our group to be super-careful. We took his advice to heart and decided to get up at 02:30 and try to take advantage of colder morning temps to meet our objective safely.
On Sunday, November 18 2012 I joined Bill Kerr, Dave Salahub and Kevin Papke on a snow slog up an unnamed peak to the south of Isola. Dave decided to call the peak “S.O. Isola or Monola” in order to satisfy Kev’s requirement of an ‘official’ summit. (Since then the peak has been named a more fitting name, Monola, due to its location between Isola and Monad Peaks.) Monola isn’t particularly difficult. We managed to cross the river in our 4×4’s on the blue bridge and drove all the way up the approach road on 4-6″ of fresh snow. We even drove a couple hundred meters down the ATV trail until the track dropped down – we stopped on top of this drop. On hindsight when you get to the obvious clearing it’s best to stop rather than follow the narrow track into the trees beyond.
A day after scrambling up Little Arethusa at the Highwood Pass, I was back for more – this time as a solo scramble. I really wanted to take advantage of the warm weather before winter really hit and I found myself with another free day so I ‘forced’ myself out of bed and into the car for the long drive back to the Rockies and Highwood Pass. Due to a lingering cold / flu I didn’t want to do any big objective so I settled on Highwood Ridge across from Little Arethusa and directly above the Highwood Pass parking lot. What I didn’t count on was copious amounts of fresh snow compared to the day previous! There must have been almost 6 inches of fresh powder – enough that I almost didn’t dare drive into the parking lot with my car.
During the shoulder seasons in the Rockies, as a peak bagger you have two choices. You can either sit and home and whine about not getting out or you can try to make the most of it by bagging smaller objectives that you wouldn’t bother with normally. Wietse and I have been choosing door #2 for the past few weekends and this one was no different. The Highwood Pass closes for traffic on December 1, so most people try to take advantage of early season snowfall and ski areas like the Rae Glacier before the road closes but Wietse and I decided that rather than wreck our ski gear we would try hiking at the pass instead!
On the weekend of August 17-19 I took my two kids and one of Niko’s friends into the ACC hut in Elk Lakes Provincial Park.
This is probably the easiest summit I’ve attained on my list so far. I did it early on Saturday morning with my son and didn’t even bother taking photos – besides a few summit shots on my iPhone which I won’t bother posting here.
After almost 2 months without a summit and a long family vacation which saw me drive over 5000 kilometers in 2.5 weeks, I was more than ready to get out to the solitude of the Rocky Mountains again! 🙂 Since I had just driven 10 hours the day before, coming back from visiting family in the Vancouver area, I decided that I would do something fairly low key on Thursday, July 19. I have wanted to hike Windtower for a long time already and this seemed like the perfect day to do just that, so I did.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
As part of a peaceful and relaxing solo hiking trip to the Lake O’Hara region in 2010, I scrambled up Mount Schaffer early in the day on the 30th of September in perfect weather conditions. After checking out McArthur Lake (stunning) I had the rest of the day to explore part of the so-called Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit, a gorgeous series of trails staring near the Lake O’Hara lodge and working its way up past Mary and Moor Lakes to Hungabee and Opabin Lakes before looping back around the upper Opabin Plateau and along Yukness Mountain’s south and west flank towards Lake Oesa.
On Friday, September 25 2010 Hanneke and I did a nice hiking circuit in Lake Louise. Our route took us to Lake Agnes, over The Beehive and down to the Plain of Six Glaciers trail back to the parking lot. The Beehive is not a tough scramble by any means, but it does involve some elevation gain and consequently some very sublime views.
While in BC for a family wedding my father-in-law suggested that the ‘boys’ should go bag a peak somewhere. Well, since I’m a prolific peakbagger I couldn’t resist this chance! At first the idea was to climb Golden Ears. Once I researched that scramble I realized that our group did not have the necessary experience or gear to attempt this objective.
On Saturday, May 15 I was joined by Wietse and Sonny on a bit of an exploratory trip in the Livingstone range in Kananaskis Country. We drove up an old logging road (start @N 50 5.522, W 114 25.942) with the intent of parking somewhere between Sheep Mountain and Horseshoe Ridge and bagging both summits from the parking area at the pass.
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.
After descending Hornecker we were staring at the steep south ascent slopes of Windy Peak. We grunted up the slope and were soon battling very strong wind (what did we expect right?!) to the 5th summit of the day. Windy Peak is just a hike, but we had great views of some cloud formations coming over the Rockies to the west and a little bit of wind wasn’t ruining our day any!
Due to route choices, JW, Keith and I actually did about 75-100 extra meters of height gain on this small peak. Ironically we were trying to avoid bushwhacking and JW and I ended up in some very thick and thorny trees! We dipped all the way down to the col between Windy Peak and Hornecker, instead of cutting climber’s left much earlier.
My 200th summit!! OK – not a very impressive summit but it’s a milestone that I’m quite proud of. Not many folks get up 100 summits in their lifetime and I was about to stand on my 200th! In order to get 200 summits you have to burn a LOT of calories, walk a LOT of kms and take a LOT of extra breaths! It’s also been a lot of adventures and a lot time spent pondering life and it’s many aspects.
On Saturday, October 18th 2008 Wietse, Naomi and I tagged the summit of Loaf Mountain in the East Castle area, just north of Waterton National Park. Due to a seasonal closure of the road that leads to the normal trail head, we had to walk an additional 4 km each way from a locked gate. This resulted in more exercise but also prevented us from bagging more than one peak, simply because time and energy wouldn’t allow for it. You can do Spionkop Ridge along with Loaf if you have the energy / time. You can also to Drywood Mountain and Loaf if you’re so inspired.
To get to Og Mountain, we first had to hike along the Windy Ridge trail from the Assiniboine Lodge area and our Naiset hut. After getting some sublime morning sunrise shots of Mount Assiniboine early in the day, it was nice to walk past it again in full day light. With a plume of snow peeling off it’s lofty 11,871 foot summit it looked incredibly huge and intimidating.