After biking, hiking and scrambling for many hours and many kilometers in the past 28 hours or so it was finally time for Phil Richards, Joanna Ford and I to attempt the highlight objective of our so-called “Three Passes” trip.
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.
Finally, after 1.5 hours of steep hiking we topped out on a high point on the southwest ridge with the summit of Wapiti still looking a long way off and distressingly snowy.
After enjoying a nice supper break at our Tomahawk Pass bivy site, Joanna, Phil and I set off up the easy looking western slopes of Tomahawk Mountain.
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…
The last time I scrambled this circuit was over 10 years ago on June 14, 2008 with Wietse. I don’t generally repeat trips and despite not planning this particular trip for this particular day, on hindsight I’m perfectly OK with repeating it – it’s a beauty!
After my adventurous solo outing on Mount Hensley only a few days previous, I wasn’t sure I was entirely prepared for the long bike ‘n scramble Phil and I had planned for Saturday, June 15th. We’d been planning a trip into the Fording River Pass area for a few years already and June seemed like an ideal time for such a venture.
I took my own excellent and logical medical advice and layered more pain on top of existing pain in order to help the original pain fade. It didn’t work – at all, but I did have a heckuva solo adventure when I could have been at work doing boring stuff all day.
I was still hurting quite a bit from my first bike ride of the year on Deadman Pass Peak a few days earlier, but the only way to cure pain is to liberally layer more pain on top so I readily agreed that something with an even longer and much rougher bike approach was the obvious choice (!!).
Deadman Pass Peak is one of those mountains that snuck onto my list many years ago when So Nakagawa posted a trip report in 2015 from a trip he did in 2013. When Dave McMurray posted another trip report on the same peak in 2015 it went up the list a bit higher before fading to other, bigger, more remote objectives as these things tend to do.
It’s been roughly 15 years (!!) since I tackled the main summit of Mount Baldy and 8 since tackling the west summit. I don’t like repeats if there’s other options but on this particular day in June 2019 I decided it had been long enough and it was time for some updated photos and some exercise.
On Saturday, June 1 2019 I was at home getting texts from a bored Wietse who was sitting on the summit of Sulphur waiting for the rest of his hiking group. He indicated that the rumored true summit on the fourth peak clearly looked lower and after seeing his photos I agreed.
As Phil and I drove home from our successful scramble up Mount Berland in Kootenay National Park on Saturday, May 11, my thoughts turned to the following day.
As the weekend approached, Phil Richards and I were getting a wee bit desperate to find a peak that didn’t involve obvious avalanche hazards or post-holing hell.
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’ve heard of the Observation Sub Peaks for many years as a pretty tame but highly recommended ski objective along the Icefields Parkway near Bow Summit and Bow Lake in Banff National Park.
Even before Cornelius Rott forged a route to the summit of Winchester Ridge, it was on my radar. This has happened with a number of relatively obscure peaks over the past 3 or 4 years as Cornelius is attracted to the same types of objectives as Phil and I and usually manages to nab them before we do.
On Sunday March 27, 2011 So Nakagawa and I skied to the summit of Crowfoot Mountain and on Saturday March 16 2019 I repeated it with Wietse Bijlsma. I always figured I’d repeat this mountain since it’s relatively easy and a surprisingly short day despite being over 1200 meters of height gain and almost 20 km of distance from the Bow Lake parking lot.
I forget when I first heard of BowCrow Peak but it’s been on my never ending and never shrinking list of Rockies summits for years. Something that was frustrating me was that even though I had a general idea where it was located, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how anyone bagged it!
After braving fairly cold temperatures the last weekend of February 2019, I was ready for some more bravery on the first weekend of March 2019. When I say “ready”, I really mean I was desperate enough to get my ass off the couch and out of the city to suffer -30 temps – frostbite be damned! When I contacted Ali to find out what she was up to, she mentioned Matt Clay was planning something.
After missing out on a gorgeous day on Family day, I was absolutely determined to try something (anything!) on the following weekend. The weather forecast wasn’t looking ideal with 2 hours of sun and overcast conditions but I decided to follow Matt and Alison’s ascent tracks up Helena Ridge East no matter what the views might be. This was a bit of a shame because their photos from Monday were spectacular!
Since my last ill-fated trip with Dr. Phil in an ill-advised November 2018 attempt of Stenton Peak with an immediate subsequent follow up failure on an unnamed pile of choss nearby, my mountain mojo has been sitting somewhere between a 0 and a 1 with 10 being the amount of mojo required for peaks like McConnell or Cataract and 8+ being the amount required to get me out of bed at 04:00 on a weekend morning.
Astral Peak has been on my radar for many years now, ever since climbing Devils Head in 2012 and looking back over my shoulder as I walked onto its surprisingly spacious summit. The views from this very distinctive and well-known Ghost Wilderness peak provided me with a list of relatively unknown summits to the west including Poltergeist, Astral and Castle Rock Peak.
I very rarely repeat mountains. Very, very rarely. I just don’t see the point. The name of my web site provides insight to the whole point of hiking, scrambling, skiing and climbing for me – exploring new areas. But every once in a while I get an itch to do a repeat for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s just that the mountain is that much fun but usually it’s because I didn’t get great photos or views the first time. Such is the case with Mount Cory.
After the crappiest September on record, I knew we’d likely get some good weather in October. Sure enough! After a pretty bad start, October turned gorgeous and by the third week the forecast was all sunshine. After a series of emails and texts, Wietse and I were the last two standing and started making plans for Saturday. We settled on Chimper Peak.