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Tag : LT1000

Barwell, Mount

On Saturday, March 22nd 2014 I joined Wietse and Dave for a snowshoe jaunt up Mount Barwell in Kananaskis Country, just off highway 549 past Millarville in the Northfork Provincial Recreation Area – the same area as Mesa Butte. We left Calgary at around 11:30 so it was definitely one of my latest starts for a winter hike. You won’t find too many descriptions of this mountain, mostly because it’s in the heart of the McLean Creek off road vehicle area and as such, not hiked very often. Also, the summit views are rather treed in – the best views seem to be from the hike up and from the further “west summit” mentioned by Gillean Daffern in her book on hiking in Kananaskis.

Powderface Ridge

After talking to Steven and Wietse about their recent trips up Powderface Ridge (Steven ‘shoed and Wietse skied) I decided that with avalanche danger too high again, I had to so something – even if it was just another easy objective. I’ve been getting some smack talk lately from friends on my “lowly objectives” this winter. I know it’s all in good nature, but trust me – I’d rather be off bagging some more serious stuff. I made a pact with my wife a few years ago when she started catching on to the fact that a lot of people were dying each year doing exactly what I do – backcountry skiing. The pact was simple. I would not intentionally go into the backcountry if avalanche ratings were ‘considerable’ or higher for that area. Period. No exceptions, unless I’m out for a few days and the danger spikes while I’m out there. Ironically this year I even bought an avalanche air pack to make things even safer, but the ratings have been too high almost every weekend.

McNab, Mount

After completing Mesa Butte (when we were turned around due to heavy snow on McNab!) Steven and I decided we should go back to McNab to see if the weather had improved. It had. There were literally dozens of people parked around the winter gate and lower down in the day use parking lot for Sandy McNab! The sun was shining, kids were sledding and folks were roasting wieners and marshmallows over cheery fires in the designated picnic spots.

Heather Ridge

On Saturday, February 1 2014 I was joined by half of Calgary and part of Deadmonton for a ski / snowshoe ascent of Heather Ridge in Skoki – behind the Lake Louise ski hill in Banff National Park. Ok – it wasn’t quite half of Calgary, but close! It started with Steven, Wietse and I and ended with Steven, Wietse, Raf, Andrea, Mike, Sonny, Spencer, Brandon and myself. We met up in the Skoki Lodge parking lot in chilly temps of -28 degrees Celsius. Yikes. After laying up it was time to warm up with a ski up the ski out from the Lake Louise Ski hill. The last time I was on this road was way back in September 2005 when cousin Jon and I managed to knock off all the Kane scrambles in Skoki within a 72 hour period.

Opoca, South Ridge

Any time you see the keywords “ski” and “bushwhack” in the same trip report you should never ever try to repeat it yourself. You’ve been warned! 🙂 As part of his Opal 35 Project, Kev Barton had his eyes fixed on a winter ascent of either the main peak of “Opoca” or it’s eastern outlier, known locally as “East Opoca” or “Elpoca Creek Hill” by Bob Spirko. Since we were attempting an unknown peak in winter, via a tight approach valley I knew that our odds of summiting were very low, but I didn’t really care. This is the sort of trip that’s done for the adventure, not the summit. We got some adventure all right… On hindsight we made two blunders which cost us the peak.

Junction Hill

After snowshoeing Coyote Hills the day before, Raf and I decided that Junction Hill looked too tempting to leave it alone for long. We both returned on Sunday, January 19 to see what it’s summit would offer for views. Ironically we took different routes and drove separately – never even running into each other en route! This was not the intention. When Raf told me that Kev and him were going to attempt Junction Hill on Sunday, I assumed he meant Kev Barton. I agreed to meet at the trailhead since it’s easier for me to bomb down hwy 2 and go past High River and Longview from that direction than go through Calgary. When Kev Papke called me at 08:30 as I was driving past High River already, I realized that I should have asked which Kev. Oh well. (Kev Papke and I can usually carpool together.)

Coyote Hills

On Saturday, January 18 2014 I was joined by a gaggle of friends for a snowshoe trip under an extremely warm, winter sun. Due to high avalanche risks all over the Rockies (all the way to the coast actually), we decided on a relatively low angle and hopefully snow free ascent. We scored on one of our objectives at least. Due to a mix-up with some of Marko’s friends, Raf, Wietse, Andrea and I ended up breaking trail to the summit with Marko, Amelie and company following. We decided that this was our anniversary present for Marko and Amelie since they just got engaged.

Buller, Mount North Ridge

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!

Elk Lakes / Cabin Snowshoe Trip

Just before Christmas 2013, our family did a 3 day, 2 night snowshoe trip into the Elk Lakes ACC hut in Elk Lakes Provincial Park, BC. In August 2012 I took the kids on a backpacking trip to the hut but we’d never visited in the winter before. The route is fairly obvious for snowshoers.

Gypsum Ridge

After skiing up Healy Pass Peak the day before, I decided to take the family on a snowshoeing trip on Sunday, December 15 in preparation for our trek to the Elk Lakes ACC hut in one week. Bob Spirko indicates that the elevation gain is only around 300 meters on Gypsum Ridge so I figured this was a good candidate to bag a peak and get the family out. I also liked the fact that we’d be in the trees because the day was shaping up to be fairly cloudy and windy – but warm.

Healy Pass Peak

On Saturday, December 14 2013 Wietse and I continued a tradition of going to the Healy Pass area one week prior to a hut ski trip. A year previous we also skied the pass on a grey and unassuming day and this day wouldn’t be much different. The snow conditions were a bit thin down low, but once we worked our way to the lower pass meadows there was quite a bit of snow.

Kidd Junior, Mount (Kidd Fire Lookout)

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.

Hoffman, Mount

After enjoying a wonderful day on Missinglink Mountain the day before, I found out that the new ring road around the east side of Calgary was completed. This meant a very quick and easy way for me to get down south now (avoiding Deerfoot Trail) and I wanted to try it out. I decided to head back down to the Sheep River area for another shot at a front-range summit, this time Mount Hoffman. The Stoney Trail freeway worked wonderfully and in about an hour from the NE edge of Calgary I was driving past the Kananaskis sign already!

Missinglink (+Dot) Mountain

On Friday, November 22 2013 I decided to mosey my way down to Sheep River Provincial Park for a shot at a front range peak that had caught my interest when Bob Spirko did it a few years previous. It’s been a while since I was down this way and I forgot how striking the peaks in the Sheep River area are – especially on the drive into the park. The weather was a chilly -14 in Calgary but by the time I got to the parking area along the road it was only -2 in a very warm sunshine!

Roberta, Mount

Wietse and I decided to take advantage of a nice day on Friday, October 11 just before the long weekend with an easy scramble up Roberta Peak near the Highwood Pass area in Kananaskis Country. The day started off exciting when we saw 4 grizzlies digging for breakfast along highway 40! Thank goodness they weren’t anywhere near our trail head or we may have switched objectives.

Wastach Mountain

On Friday, September 20 2013, Jon and Tony joined Rod, Wietse and I for a trip down memory lane. Way back in 2005 we had done the Hawkins Horseshoe in Waterton and this year everything aligned so we could finally do another fall scramble together. I grew up about 100 meters from Jon and Tony (we are cousins) back in Carman, Manitoba and it’s always fun to reminisce about our youth. We arrived at the Moraine Lake parking lot just in time to snag a parking spot (09:00 and it was already filling fast). Apparently the next day, Lake Louise officials were closing the parking lot due to crazy traffic and implementing a restricted bus schedule instead.

King Creek Ridge (Kiska tha Iyarhe)

On Saturday, June 15, 2013 I took my family up King Creek Ridge for a pleasant hike in beautiful spring weather. We followed a good trail right from the parking lot and had no issues other than the tiny moderate scrambling step just before the true summit of the ridge which Hanneke didn’t bother with and Niko didn’t really appreciate (but he did it!!).

Crystal Ridge

After traversing Parker Ridge earlier in the day, I found myself with plenty of time and a gorgeous spring day still ahead of me on Friday May 10, 2013. Since my snowshoes had done a great job of keeping me on top of the punchy spring snow pack, I decided to try one more ridge ascent before heading home. I didn’t know exactly where “Crystal Ridge” was, but I remembered something about the Crowfoot lookout parking lot from one of Marko’s trip reports so I drove to the lookout and parked there. From the lookout area there was a ridge, just barely visible through the trees, that would be between hwy 93 and the Helen Lake, Cirque Peak area. The trail to Helen Lake curves around this ridge. I thought the ridge looked prominent enough to give it a shot and geared up before heading to the Helen Lake trailhead across the highway.

Parker Ridge

Admittedly, after standing on the summits of 3 11,000ers only a few days previous, “Parker Ridge” does seem a bit lame. 🙂 But there’s a reason for this objective. The original intent was to climb Mount Athabasca via the AA col on Friday, May 10 2013 with Wietse, Scott, Kelly and myself. We planned an overnight stay at the Rampart Creek Hostel and met there on Thursday evening. Patrick Delaney, a guide with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures was also at the hostel with a client and we spent some time chatting. Patrick was concerned about the “big melt” that was going on and cautioned our group to be super-careful. We took his advice to heart and decided to get up at 02:30 and try to take advantage of colder morning temps to meet our objective safely.

Lawson, Little (South End of Lawson)

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.

Fortune, Mount

Mount Fortune is one of those peaks that’s best saved for a day when you really don’t have many other choices. On Saturday, March 2 2013 we made our first attempt at this little peak. Due to rain / snow the night before, the snow pack was completely bottomless and saturated with water. The clouds were low and getting lower and our mood as we crossed the lake was following that same trajectory – lower and lower!

Red Ridge

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.

Smutwood Peak – Ski Tour

For the past few years, I’ve had Smutwood Peak on my radar. I originally wanted to do it in the fall, due to the stunning location and the two Birdwood Lakes that make fall photos look amazing from this area. Alas, fall season (and larch season in particular), only lasts about 1 month if you’re LUCKY so this peak got relegated to a ski trip since I’m running out of peaks I can attain in 1 day on backcountry skis from any roads! 🙂 Originally Wietse and I planned to ski Smutwood the week previous but thanks to a brain fart on my part we ended up discovering a ski circuit that we didn’t know existed and bagged Pig’s Back instead… 😉

Pigs Back

So how does one end up on a peak about 4km due east of one’s original objective when one actually left the correct trailhead and there was clear weather and an obvious ascent track? I’m not 100% sure. But it happened. Wietse and I originally intended on skiing as much of Smutwood Peak as possible before slogging up to the summit in our ski boots. We would approach the mountain via Commonwealth Creek and the Birdwood / Smuts col – it should all be very obvious. The weekend before I had seen at least 10-15 cars parked near the winter trailhead so I assumed we would have no issues.

Monola Peak

On Sunday, November 18 2012 I joined Bill Kerr, Dave Salahub and Kevin Papke on a snow slog up an unnamed peak to the south of Isola. Dave decided to call the peak “S.O. Isola or Monola” in order to satisfy Kev’s requirement of an ‘official’ summit. (Since then the peak has been named a more fitting name, Monola, due to its location between Isola and Monad Peaks.) Monola isn’t particularly difficult. We managed to cross the river in our 4×4’s on the blue bridge and drove all the way up the approach road on 4-6″ of fresh snow. We even drove a couple hundred meters down the ATV trail until the track dropped down – we stopped on top of this drop. On hindsight when you get to the obvious clearing it’s best to stop rather than follow the narrow track into the trees beyond.