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Category : Cloister Mountains

Oval Peak

Oval Peak was a quick and easy 5th summit from the north shoulder as Sara and I passed by it on route to the Brazeau River and the South Boundary Trail far below. Views of Afternoon Peak’s north face and over the meadows towards Mount McDonald, Frances and Lonely Peak make this peak a worthwhile objective if you’re in the area anyway. On its own it’s a pretty lengthy march to nowhere for a lowly summit.

McDonald, Mount

Mount McDonald is one of those peaks that once you find out about it, it grabs your attention. Or at least that’s what happened to me. I’m not even sure how or why, but I was perusing bivouac.com one day and came across Rick Collier’s photo trip report from a 2011 excursion into the area with David P. Jones. What caught my attention immediately wasn’t even the peak – it looked a little dreary and very easy. It was the large lake located south of the mountain that really got my explor8ion juices flowing and I immediately started dreaming of visiting this obviously special place at the headwaters of a pretty major drainage.

Lonely Peak

Many folks would have no idea where Lonely Peak is. I certainly didn’t until I started researching remote peaks up the Job, Coral and McDonald Creek areas of the Alberta Rockies. When planning an ascent of Lonely Peak I only had a 2011 trip report from Rick Collier to go on. By the time Sara and I started up Lonely we’d been up and at it for 9 hours already, exiting the Afternoon plateau and valley, ascending Mount Frances and finding our way into the McDonald Creek valley. Despite being pretty keen peakbaggers, I’ll admit that I wasn’t totally feeling another ascent right away. This changed quickly of course, as it usually does for me!

Frances, Mount (Francis)

Sara McLean and I spent a lovely Wednesday morning wandering down the Afternoon Plateau and exiting the high meadows under Afternoon Peak before finally hiking down “Afternoon Creek” and arriving at our planned ascent line to Mount Frances. I’d only seen a report from 2011 by Rick Collier when planning the trip but it didn’t sound difficult. By the time we found ourselves under this diminutive peak it was no longer looking so small and the forecast heat was clearly on – big time. Good thing we were planning to ascend a south facing gully on this one! 😉

Afternoon Peak

Afternoon Peak first came onto my radar after a 2015 ascent of Mount Willis with Eric Coulthard. Seeing the brilliant reddish / purple color of this lofty peak looming over a lovely and unique plateau with dozens of differently colored lakes got me interested in an ascent. In 2016 Liam Harrap ascended the peak, the only person I know who has. Liam kindly shared some beta with me indicating a pretty straightforward ascent. As the years ticked by and I never got back into the White Goat I started to think it might not happen. Then in the brutally long and cold “Covid” winter of 2021/22 I dug into all my sources of mountain information to compile a large list of remaining summits that interested me. Afternoon Peak once again raised its head and I started planning a detailed trip to finally get me up to its lofty, obscure summit.

Wandering the White Goat Wilderness

In 2015 I was invited by Eric Coulthard to do a trip into an area I’d never been before – or even really heard of. He suggested we tag a couple of lofty summits in the White Goat Wilderness Area. I’d seen a few of the peaks in this area from nearby summits including Mount Stewart from Mount Coleman (the first trip I’d done with Eric way back in 2009) and Mount Willis which I’d spotted from Corona Ridge earlier in 2015. We had a fantastic trip and ever since I’ve been planning to go back.

Stewart, Mount

After a spectacular day approaching and ascending Mount Willis we awoke with sunrise to a beautifully clear day on Saturday, September 12 2015, quite eager to ascend the lofty Mount Stewart that we’d been staring at for a good portion of the previous day already. We were pretty sure that Stewart was an easy scramble from photos we’d taken from Cirrus’ summit to the west. The issue with Stewart isn’t the technical difficulties of the climbing; it’s the remoteness of the peak and the access to the easy southwest slopes.

Willis, Mount (Nigel Pass, Cataract Pass)

There are a few notable things about the White Goat Wilderness Area as compared to a national or provincial park. In a way, it’s even more restrictive. There are no horses, no motorized vehicles and no air traffic allowed. No fires, hunting or even fishing either. But random camping and backpacking is highly encouraged – provided it’s done responsibly of course. I’d certainly seen mountains in the White Goat before, notably the three summits just north of Mount Cline and the massive summit of Mount Stewart, which I’d last seen from Corona Ridge. (Stewart was actually another choice for the weekend Steve and I did Corona Ridge and Marmota Peak…)

Cirrus Mountain (Mount Huntington)

As another weekend approached, the familiar email chains started to fly once again. Weather reports and routes were scouted and by the time the dust had settled there were 2 options remaining on the table; Mount Joffre or Mount Cirrus. Joffre was higher on the list (being 600 feet higher) but the weather forecasts couldn’t quite agree on how much rain each area was going to get or when it was going to arrive and in what fashion (i.e. snow, t-storms or just a sprinkle). Given our dislike of crappy summit views, especially on peaks with tough approaches, we settled on Cirrus and finalized our plans.