With snow blanketing the Rockies pretty early in the Fall of 2019, it’s been difficult to find worthwhile objectives that I haven’t done before and that still hold some interest.
After a sublime day on Mount Denny the day before, I was not keen on sitting out the rest of the weekend despite a pretty dismal weather forecast. After downgrading objectives a few times, I settled on an easy scramble / hike to Buller Creek Peak as outlined in Andrew Nugara’s, More Scrambles guidebook. The weather was looking pretty gray as I parked in the Buller Creek / Pass parking lot along the Spray Lakes road but as I got ready I noticed a ton of vehicles pulling into the lot behind me. Apparently I wasn’t the only one determined to get out despite the clouds and rain! As I marched out of the lot towards the trail head, I was surprised to recognize two of the folks in a large group of hikers.
I was getting a bit antsy after spending too much time in the concrete jungle for the past few weeks and decided, against my better judgment, to join Phil on a dubious snowshoe ascent of the mighty Kent Ridge, South Peak on Sunday, January 21, 2018. The trip promised to be more tolerable thanks to the addition of a few more people to assist with trail-breaking – Robin and Ryan agreed to join us for some reason or another. I didn’t even know where this minor peak was, to be honest, until Phil mentioned Bob had done it. After some deliberation, however, we decided to follow a more southerly route than Bob’s, mostly due to the avalanche rating of ‘considerable’.
On Sunday, September 10th I joined Cornelius Rott for a jaunt up a Kananaskis peak that’s been on my to-do list for many years now – Mount Lougheed I. 2017 has been all about getting out and trying Rockies adventures that have been on my mind for years and never got around to for some or another reason. Originally Phil was going to join us for another (longer) objective, but plans changed so I asked Cornelius if he was interested in Lougheed. As we’d never done a trip together before, you might be surprised that we choose a difficult Nugara scramble for our first outing. I wasn’t worried because in looking at his web site you realize pretty quickly
Summit Elevation (m): 2454Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 13Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you are almost deadDifficulty Notes: Routefinding is key to keeping this scramble reasonable on approach. The final ridge to the summit is difficult, loose and exposed scrambling but pretty short.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words After enjoying a Kane difficult scramble on Divide Mountain with Liz and Mike on Friday, I choose to go solo on a Nugara difficult for Saturday, July 8 […]
On a beautiful Saturday in August, my wife Hanneke and I wanted to hike something without huge amounts of other people. After throwing around ideas the day before while driving home from a scramble up The Monarch, Phil had mentioned Sparrowhawk Tarns. This was a great idea and Hann and I were delighted with the trail, the views and the total lack of other people. Even on one of the nicest days of the summer we only saw around 10 other people the whole day on this trail. Highly recommended, especially if you love alpine meadows, tarns and Marmots.
Originally I was planning to attempt skiing Little Galatea, an outlier of the much larger Mount Galatea. After Matt Clay posted that he and Matt Hobbs had recently spent a considerable amount of energy breaking trail through sugar-snow to the upper ridge, I couldn’t resist taking advantage of this on my ‘shoes, and I got to spend another day in the hills with my family out of the deal. Now that I’ve ‘shoed it, I’m glad I didn’t go for it on skis, via the alternate route. The only way to ski LG is via the massive avalanche gully that Nugara recommends ascending and which I think should be avoided by all but very confident and avy-aware skiers / ‘shoers in prime conditions.
After taking some time away from summits after my busiest year yet in the Rockies, I felt it was time to stand on a (named) high point again. I was supposed to work Wednesday, December 23 but decided at the last minute that I didn’t feel like it. 🙂 The weather was cold enough to dissuade me from anything too aggressive plus I was going to be doing a solo trip so I had to choose something fairly conservative. The “something” ended up being Rummel Ridge via a different route than Nugara’s snowshoeing book.
After a few weekends of general laziness, I was in the mood for some moderate hiking with my family on Saturday, August 29 2015. I was hoping the recent smoky conditions would be calmer than they were over the week previous, but as the day approached we realized that we wouldn’t have the clear views we wanted. Oh well. We still wanted to get the exercise and I wanted to scope out the fall colors that I was sure would be starting in the alpine.
For Father’s Day and for the longest day of the year, we chose a fairly easy scramble in the Spray Lakes region of Kananaskis. Originally I was hoping to climb North Victoria early on Sunday before coming home to celebrate Father’s Day, but that didn’t work out thanks to a very chaotic weather forecast that kept promising perfect weather and then changing at the last minute! Oh well. June in the Alberta Rockies is known for unpredictable and chaotic weather.
Every time I drove home from the mountains along the Trans Canada highway, I wondered how easy this little bump would be to ascend. It’s certainly prominent enough to warrant a name, but it doesn’t have an official one as far as I know. Sonny and Raf are two friends who have done it. Raf assured me that it would be a nice short day – something I could do with my family. On Saturday, May 30 2015 the weather forecast was kind of grim. I decided we should drive to Razors Edge and check it out. If the weather held long enough, we could try an ascent. The clouds were low as we drove out from Calgary.
On Saturday, February 15 2014, Steven Song and I completed one of very few ski ascents of “Spoon Needle” in Kananaskis Country, east of the Fortress Ski resort. There was many years when this lowly, but striking, peak saw only 1 ascent per season, but thanks to the internet and both it’s easy nature and prominent appearance from Hwy 40, the peak is gaining in popularity. Alas, since most people choose it as an off season objective, there are almost as many routes as there are ascents.
You know it’s not a very interesting trip when it takes me a few weeks to write it and the main photo is from the drive to the trailhead… 🙂 Honestly, there isn’t much to recommend the snowshoe trip up the North Ridge of Mount Buller, other than a decent view from the top and some good sweating (and swearing?!) on the way up. I drove up the Spray Lakes road under a gorgeous sunrise but from there the day went downhill. I couldn’t find any old tracks up the north ridge and ended up in knee deep, unconsolidated crap for two hours before realizing there was an old track about 100 meters to my right!
With an impending snow storm and cold weather ahead, I decided to take advantage of a warm start to December with a snowshoe up to the Mount Kidd fire lookout and possibly a high point further up the ridge. I decided to call that high point, Mount Kidd Junior in the taste of naming every bump in the Rockies a “junior” of some other peak. You can laugh all you want, but I earned this summit.
In my rant on the Mount Fortune trip I made it pretty clear what I think of invented peak names. So why did I climb one and put it on my summit list the very next day?! Because if other’s list and count it as a separate peak I guess I have to too. And because “Little Lawson”, just like “Red Ridge” and other less prominent peaks are actually listed in published guidebooks and have hiking trails to the summits above – basically they’re “official”, “unofficial” summits.
Kev Papke was getting close to his year-long, 50 peak fundraising effort and was in need of 4 peaks in 4 weekends in order to fill the 50 peak ‘order’. The weekend of February 23/24 wasn’t looking great for anything too aggressive and since Kev could only go on the 23rd our options became even more limited. I don’t do ski mountaineering if avalanche likelihood is either ‘considerable’ or ‘high’, so any ski trips were pretty much out of favor.
Wietse and I were in the mood to get out of the city on Sunday, October 28 so we did just that. Originally Kev Papke was going to join us for a hike up Red Ridge, across from Mount Sparrowhawk in Kananaskis Country. Kev emailed at 04:50 to say he had a fever so it was back to the two of us. After slogging up James Walker a few weeks ago and freezing my feet off in 12 inches of snow I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for a repeat performance. I packed my Sorel boots (good to -30) instead of my regular mountaineering boots and hoped for non-technical terrain.
Mount James Walker has been on my radar for a number of years. I wanted to save it for off-season since it’s a pretty easy objective but I also wanted it to be fall and fairly nice weather because the rumor was that it was a perfect objective with fall colors. On Saturday, October 13 2012 I met Wietse in the Sawmill parking lot under a very grey and threatening sky – not quite the nice weather I was looking for.
On Thursday August 9 2012 I decided that the day would be best spent by trying something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time already – the traverse from Kent Ridge to Mount Inflexible. There’s been some discussion around the traverse from Inflexible to Kent Ridge with the overall conclusion sounding like it was easier than expected so I wasn’t too concerned about making the attempt solo.
On Saturday, August 4, 2012 I was joined by the illustrious Sonny Bou for a jaunt up Ribbon Peak and hopefully Bogart Tower. Ribbon Peak has been on my radar for a few years already, mainly due to a trip report from Andrew Nugara and consequently it’s appearance in his scrambles book. For some reason or another I really like the Memorial Lakes area and I’d been up there 2 or 3 times previous and never realized the scrambling objectives that are in the area.
After reading Bob Spirko’s and So Nakagawa’s trip reports on Mount Lougheed, I really wanted to give it a go in 2012. For some reason it’s already been a pretty popular peak with other’s this year so I knew it was in good shape. When Wietse and Kevin Papke were throwing around the idea of heading out on Sunday, July 22nd I proposed peaks II and III of Mount Lougheed and they quickly agreed. Why didn’t I also include peak I and do the traverse? I’m not sure. I wasn’t really in the mood to challenge the “5th class terrain” just under peak II and didn’t have the energy for the whole traverse. I’ll do peak I as a separate scramble another day. Kevin already had peak I too, so he wasn’t motivated to repeat it either.
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 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.
I decided to end a 4 day peak bagging party (Monday – Pilot / Brett, Tuesday – Burstall / Storm, Wednesday – Fox) with a jaunt up Mount Bogart. (NOTE: Since the floods of 2013, the approach route and even the route itself may have changed significantly so beware that the GPS track will be off.)
Heart Mountain is an easy but fun scramble – and extremely popular. Since there was still no snow Jeff and I tackled this one in November 2001 and I repeated it along with Grant MacEwan again in January of 2009 as the same loop route.