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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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 Mount Kent the day before I was up at 04:30 on Thursday, September 30 2010 to spend a few solitary days in the Lake O’Hara region of Yoho National Park. Of course, I realized that I would not be alone in this beautiful area, but I needed a few days of peace and meditation before starting a new contract and getting back to the real world again. Amazingly I managed to book a spot at the Elizabeth Parker ACC hut with only a week’s notice – normally you have to play a lottery the previous year just for the right to book a spot!
On Wednesday, September 29 2010 I was joined by Wietse and Johan on a scramble up Mount Kent. Kent is described by Andrew Nugara as a moderate scramble on slabs and scree with a rewarding view considering its modest height. We found Nugara’s description very accurate. Following his directions we reached the summit with no major issues.
On Saturday, September 11 2010 I climbed to my 260th summit with my 9 year old son, Niko. The fact that we got to do this short scramble together as part of a special father-son weekend makes this a peak that I’ll remember for a long time. What else can I say? It’s short, steep and loose. You get to enjoy the sounds of gunshots and ATV’s and you get to enjoy the sight of recent logging too! On a more serious note, you do get great views of the Crowsnest Pass area including full-on shots of Crowsnest Mountain.
On Friday, September 03 2010 I completed my last ‘Kane scramble’ with Eric, Marko and Greg. Mount Carnarvon was looking like it would be my last Kane peak for a while and when I tallied up the remaining 11 peaks at the beginning of 2010 I picked it as the last one. I could not have timed it better! The summer of 2010 has been a drizzmal affair with late summer conditions and then early snow and ice. A week previous I was on Walcott and Burgess looking towards Carnarvon and crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t snow any more until I completed it. Thankfully the snow went elsewhere for the following week!
After arriving home from my brother’s wedding on August 26 2010 I was feeling a bit bummed about the weather forecast for the Rockies that coming weekend (27-29). With only two (or was it three) Kane peaks left I was determined to finish before 2011 rather than have two last peaks hanging around for another year! Unfortunately for me though, the week previous had dumped fresh snow all over the Rockies and I was sure that Yoho probably got hit with the most. The forecast was also very grim with rain, thunderstorms and snow in varying percentages for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
After ascending Mount Ball and Beatrice Peak the previous day, we awoke to clear skies on Sunday morning, August 15 2010 ready to tackle Stanley Peak. Thanks to Dave Stephens we knew there was an easier route than the Kane bash up the face – we could ascend southwest slopes to the summit. We had an idea that instead of coming all the way back above the headwall to our bivy site before going back down Haffner Creek, we could descend off Stanley’s south slopes and cut off a good part of the bushwhack. This would be a bit dicey because of cliff bands guarding the south side of Stanley but we felt good about finding a route off, so we set out with our full packs.
I woke up at 0315 on Saturday morning, August 14 2010 eager to drive to the Marble Canyon camp ground and a bushwhack up Haffner Creek. OK, I wasn’t exactly eager, but I did wake up! I arrived at the parking lot around 06:00 and by 06:30 our party of four was starting up Haffner Creek.
I took Wednesday, July 14 2010 off work and headed to K-Country to scramble one of my last remaining Kane peaks with Keith and So – Cougar Mountain. The weather forecast was dismal for this day but since we had all booked it already it wasn’t worth another cancellation. The summer weather so far in 2010 has been dismal at best! Like it so often happens, as I drove closer and closer to the front ranges the clouds started to dissipate and by the time I pulled into the parking area at 06:30 the sky was blue!
On Thursday, July 1 2010 I was joined by Bill Kerr to celebrate Canada’s birthday with an ascent of Copper Mountain in Banff National Park. Copper is one of those peaks that is very prominent and easy to access but doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention. Various trip reports on the internet indicate some confusion regarding the ascent and descent routes with stories of people getting cliffed out and even jumping off small cliffs to get down!
After bagging both Pyramid and Cinquefoil mountains the previous day, So and I were ready to help me close out my “Kane” Jasper scrambles with an ascent of Utopia Mountain. It turns out that I left the best for last. After packing up our campsite at 05:00 we started to feel rain drops. Uh oh. Was I going to have to drive a round trip of 10 hours from Calgary just to get my last Kane scramble in Jasper? It turns out we got very lucky (again) with the weather. By the time we started our hike the sky was clearing and there was no more rain for the remainder of our scramble.
On the weekend of June 26, 27 I was joined by So Nakagawa on a quest to finish up my remaining “Kane” scrambles in Jasper National Park. The plan was to scramble both Pyramid and Cinquefoil on Saturday and finish up with Utopia on Sunday. Secretly I was thinking that this was a slightly aggressive plan and it would take a small miracle to pull it off but what’s life without a few aggressive, unrealistic goals?
After scrambling Pyramid Mountain in 6 hours car-to-car, So and I decided that we’d better not waste the rest of a perfectly fine day on lounging around in our campsite so we went up Cinquefoil Mountain instead! Cinquefoil is rated “easy” and the short time that Kane lists is around 4 hours. This is fine except it sets the expectation for the mountain pretty low. Most people seem surprised both by the difficulty and length of this trip.
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.