Overall this trip went much better than I thought it would despite some unforeseen challenges and the complexity of the terrain. Some of the SC6 sections were at the top end of moderate, hence my “+” overall rating. Many people assume this trip is easy and straightforward because the stats and elevations make it seem like it should be. It’s not. If you treat it as a full day and take your time routefinding you will have a very enjoyable outing. If you tackle these peaks as a backup plan in shitty weather and non-ideal conditions you might start hating your life choices. With good weather, the great views up remote valleys and over Abraham Lake make this a more scenic outing than you might expect – that is certainly what happened in my case. I’m very satisfied with my decision to reverse the usual clockwise direction, ascending 2 of the 3 difficult sections rather than descending them. Rhine Peak is an option for a 4th peak if you are braver than I am, or use a rope on its NE face / gully. A highly recommended route for experienced Rockies scramblers.
Within 2 hours of leaving our overnight packs along the South Ram River Trail we were back at them, proving that Aires really is just an “add on” peak. On hindsight I’m glad that we ascended it – it was the one bright spot on an otherwise very challenging and dreary day.
A rare ascent of a little known, very remote peak named for the Alice in Wonderland theme of the area – Cheshire Peak. A gorgeous approach, sneaky difficult step and hiking at over 3000 meters with views of the most remote and hard to access east faces in Banff National Park make this a highlight day in the mountains in 2022 for me. Dormouse Peak felt like a pretty simple add-on after all that.
It’s a heckuva long way into the front ranges but once you get to the old Headwaters Patrol Cabin a horse track leads up the Dodo valley to easy south ascent slopes. Views from the lofty 3067m peak make the work worthwhile and will have you dreaming of many more adventures in this pristine area of the Alberta Rockies. The mysteries of “Ladder Falls” will have you wondering about going further up valley.
What can I say about this 3-day trip? I am so lucky to enjoy trips like this in these pristine areas of the Alberta Rockies. Yes, this is an OHV and horse traffic area but once you get off the main drags and into the back valleys this is as pristine a landscape as you’re going to find pretty much anywhere on earth. I will not soon forget walking through alpine meadows at sunrise or under soaring rock gates straight out of a LOTR movie. This is the kind of country that sits deep down in your soul and refuses to leave once you’ve experienced it.
Whelk Peak has pretty much everything you want out of a remote, un-beta’d summit. It is a LONG way from nowhere, has an untamed, wild approach valley and views of some of the Rockies hardest-to-spot peaks with Alice in Wonderland themes. Compared to the forecast, we certainly felt like we’d fallen down the rabbit hole more than a few times but in the end I have some pretty sweet memories and find myself strangely longing to visit that remote valley again sooner than later.
I think it goes without saying that I’d rather we had the dry conditions from a week previous for this trip. Sometimes you have to accept that conditions are crap and you have to decide what to do about it. I’m happy we pushed through and I won’t soon be forgetting this particular outing. These peaks are located in a unique and distant area of the Rockies and are well worth the efforts needed to attain them.
The very fact that we looked at all the shitty snow and gray cloud on day one and said, “sure – we can handle this” is the thing that will make this particular trip extra special in the memory banks. Travelling over 72 kilometers in just over 1.5 days including 3 peaks in less-than-ideal conditions leaves an impression. I’m not saying it’s all a unicorns and fresh roses impression, but it’s a wild ride that won’t fade as quickly as some others I have stored in there somewhere! As of my writing this a week later my toes are still recovering from the harsh beating but the rest of me wants to go back up the Ram River sooner than later.
An excellent, less popular peak in DTC involving a bike approach, wild creek crossing and mild bushwhack with excellent scrambling to the summit.
On Sunday, February 7 2016 I finally managed to get out to Abraham Lake along Hwy 11 in David Thompson Country for an attempt of Mount Michener – something I’ve been planning to do for a few years now. Originally Doug Lutz and I were planning to take Friday off for this venture, but thanks to 100+ km/h forecast winds, we canceled our plans and worked instead. Saturday I was looking at the “high” avalanche ratings for the alpine, thinking that my weekend just went bust when Doug messaged me that winds were forecast to be in the 20-40 km/h range for Sunday and that he was game to give it a shot. I was immediately on board with that plan. One issue with the Abraham Lake area is the drive.
On Thursday, July 30 2009 I joined Eric Coulthard from Edmonton on a trip up Mount Coleman in Banff National Park. In order to facilitate an earlier arrival back home to Calgary after the scramble, we both stayed overnight near the trailhead and agreed to leave the parking lot around 0530. This was my first scramble with Eric and we proved to have much in common, including our love of the mountains and our method of ascent.