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Tag : banff national park

Watermelon Peak

On Wed or Thu the usual flurry of emails went out regarding plans for the weekend. When the dust settled, Phil Richards and I were left choosing between two lengthy day trips. In the end, Watermelon Peak won out. Most people do Watermelon as part of an overnight bivy at Lake Alice, and while this is a wonderful way to experience this peak and this lovely area, we simply didn’t have the schedule to allow it this time. It was while we were poking around at the route and planning the trip that Phil wryly texted me – “you realize that Bobac is also in the area”.

Bobac Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 3088Trip Date: July 15 2017Elevation Gain (m): 1650Round Trip Time (hr): 14.5Total Trip Distance (km): 28Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break your leg or possibly dieDifficulty Notes: The south ridge route that we took involves difficult, loose scrambling with exposure. There are easier routes but they are longer and cannot be done safely with the amount of snow they had when we were there.Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words After spending an amazing morning approaching and ascending Watermelon […]

Turner, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2813Trip Date: April 22, 2017Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 13.5Total Trip Distance (km): 40Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your wrist.Difficulty Notes: If you ski up the peak, the main difficulty is planning your trip around a good snow pack and stability. There are avalanche slopes on this route despite reports suggesting otherwise. If hiking dry I’m sure it’s no more than a hike.Technical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words On Saturday, April 22 I finally […]

Wawa Ridge

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 was the perfect day to finally knock the easy and short Wawa Ridge ski tour off my list. This tour was perfect for a day when I didn’t feel like something bigger and wanted a solo ski. There’s nothing really difficult about it and I could have done it in less than 3 hours return except I tried taking a shortcut up through trees off the approach trail and got hopelessly lost for about 20 minutes or so. How does that happen at a bloody ski resort?!

Wolverine Ridge

Summit Elevation (m): 2412Trip Date: January 14 2017Elevation Gain (m): 800Round Trip Time (hr): 4Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain somethingDifficulty Notes: No difficulties except resisting spending your whole afternoon in the Temple Lodge drinking beer on return! Limited avalanche terrain.Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Skiing)Map: what3words After a hiatus from the mountains due to motivation issues and cold weather, I decided to return for an easy outing up Wolverine Ridge with a group of friends on […]

Hiking Trails into Mount Assiniboine

There are various approaches to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and I’ve now done a number of them, excepting the easiest (from the air) and some of the more obscure ones. This is a brief description of each of the four routes I’ve done, and two that I haven’t, with a final comparison matrix at the end. These are also detailed at the Mount Assiniboine Lodge website. One short section of the climber’s access route that I haven’t done (yet) is the Gmoser Ledges from the Lake Magog Campground to the Hind Hut. You can find more details of that route here. My GPS route for that section is a guess at best.

Pharaoh Peak, Greater

As I watched the giant snow flakes fall gently and silently all around me and settle onto the yellow and red fall foliage before slowly starting to melt, I was struck by a thought that has hit me square between the eyes more than once while solo trekking on various trails and routes through the backcountry of my beloved Canadian Rockies. The beauty that I’d experienced on this long and tiring day – and many long and tiring days before it – was not there for my benefit. It was simply there. Natural beauty is something that drives many of us out of the concrete jungles where we make a living, out to a more peaceful and reflective existence on the trail – where we are smaller somehow, and more connected with our ancient, wandering roots. While we feel almost a spiritual connection to the land, we often make the mistake of thinking that all the natural beauty that we find beyond our temporary fake and material world, is somehow there for us. Because of us – like it owes us it’s very existence. But this is not true my friends.

Brewster, Mount

Some days are thrown off track even before reaching the parking lot. Remember Cockscomb and the way it started (and ended)? Well, on Friday, August 26th 2016, Wietse Bylsma and myself started our day with similar missteps and continued to stumble and bumble our way towards and then up and then down and then up Mount Brewster. Ironically – or maybe not – Brewster is Cockscomb’s twin across the valley and even has a campground named “Cockscomb” on it’s lower slopes – I should have known it wouldn’t succumb as easily as expected.

Monarch, The

On Friday, August 19th I was joined by the indefatigable Phil Richards and Wietse Bylsma for another longish day trip in the Canadian Rockies. After two previous off-trail adventures to Breaker and Molar, Phil and I decided that it was time for a mostly on-trail objective. We settled on The Monarch, located between Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and Kootenay National Park in British Columbia. Wietse has had his eye on this peak for many years, since Ben Wards posted on the old RMB forum that his group found a scramble route on it. Since then, Alan Kane has come out with the 3rd edition of his infamous scramble guide and added the same route to it.

Molar Mountain

There are some mountains that really stir my gut when I think about doing them. For some reason Molar Mountain has been one such peak ever since I first saw a trip report and the corresponding stunning photographs from Andrew Nugara back in 2007. Nugara’s online trip report is no longer available (he has added it to a recent guidebook – something I didn’t find out until after our trip) but Josee and Fabrice repeated his route in 2014 and posted it on their website which increased my interest in the lovely Hector Pass / Molar Creek area and in the mountain itself.

Breaker Mountain (Capricorn Lake)

After first becoming interested in Breaker Mountain in 2013 while perusing Google Earth for ideas, Phil took Rick’s trip report on Bivouac (a 1987 spring ski ascent) and successfully completed an ambitious solo trip up Capricorn Creek to Capricorn Lake in October 2014 to scout the route to the Parapet / Breaker col. Thanks to intermittent snow flurries at Capricorn Lake and an impending snow event he never made it as far as the col. Ever since then, Phil has been trying to find a partner to suffer the approach with him and try to find a scramble route up Breaker. Finally, for reasons still unknown to me, I agreed to his suggestion and we each booked off work for Friday August 5th to make the attempt during a good weather window – a rare thing in summer 2016.

Jimmy Simpson Junior, Mount

I was happy with the outcome of Friday’s scramble up Devil’s Thumb and instantly began planning another objective for Sunday. As the weekend progressed, the weather deteriorated for the Bow Lake area and soon the date slipped to Monday. I didn’t want to go Monday due to the expected hordes of folks returning to Calgary after a long weekend of camping so Kaycie and I agreed that we’d get up at 04:45 and try to be off the mountain by around noon – hopefully beating the mad rush from Banff / Canmore to YYC.

Devil’s Thumb

If you’ve read my Cockscomb Mountain trip report, you should not be surprised that it’s been weeks since my last summit! I jest. Although my mountain mojo was a bit depleted in June / July, this isn’t the real reason I haven’t summitted a mountain in the last 7 weeks. There are two reasons for the break. The first was a three week holiday in July which saw me and my son do an epic 16 day canoe trip in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, followed by a week camping with family in Nutimik Lake, Manitoba.

Cockscomb Mountain (Banff)

Cockscomb Mountain has a few things going for it. No matter how many peaks you’ve done, as long as it’s more than one, you will have a “best” and a “worst” one. I never have to worry about my worst one now – I’ve apparently just completed it. Another thing in Cockscomb’s favor is that I will never have to repeat it. Yes – I enjoyed it that much! 😉 The first thing to note about Cockscomb Mountain is that despite Bob Spirko’s apparently easy and rather pleasant ascent back in 2006, this is not your typical “Kane easy” summit. According to me, an easy scramble should be one where you take your Aunt Edna for a day trip in the Rockies, where Aunt Edna is in decent cardio shape but isn’t a hardcore peak bagger or a secret lover of horrible approaches.

Forbes, Mount

I’ve been dreaming of climbing the highest peak in Banff National Park and 8th highest in the Canadian Rockies for many years. I’m not 100 percent sure when I first laid eyes on the hauntingly beautiful northwest face and dramatic summit pyramid of Mount Forbes but I do know that it probably terrified me the first few times I looked at it. That giant triangular face of snow, rock and ice stretching upward into the clouds continued to draw me in as I gazed at it from many surrounding summits, year after year. In 2015 I was sure I was going to climb Forbes with Ben and Steven, but alas they chose a weekend that didn’t work and I was once again left to wonder at a missed opportunity.

Unity Peak

On Sunday, January 24, 2016 I was joined by Mike Mitchell for a long ski tour up Unity Peak in the Skoki region of Banff National Park near Lake Louise. Due to a ‘considerable’ avalanche rating, specifically around ridges and wind loaded, faceted slopes, we had to be very choosy with our choice of ski tour. Originally I was planning to ski Mount Turner, but the weather forecast was calling for snow flurries and essentially 100% cloud cover for most of the day which defeated the point of ascending a peak with great views!

Monarch Ramparts, The

Despite a very chilly forecast, Wietse, Bill and I decided that we’d brave the -20 degree temps near Sunshine Village in Banff National Park to give the Monarch Ramparts a go on our skis. Wietse and I had been up Healy Pass Peak almost exactly 2 years previous and at that time we’d gone up the north end of the Monarch Ramparts, but not far enough to claim the summit which lies towards its south end.

A wild scene involving Mount Douglas and its larch covered lower northern slopes.

Drummond, Mount & Packers Pass Peak

By the end of September 2015 I was getting a wee bit desperate to finally see some fully turned larches. Despite getting out a lot in the middle of the month, especially to Waterton Lakes National Park, I’d yet to run into the full fall golden goodness of larch heaven that I’ve come to crave at the end of each scrambling / hiking season in the Alberta Rockies. As usual for the 2015 season, the weather did not cooperate when I needed it to! The forecast for the weekend of September 25-27 was looking a bit thin. Sunday was the best looking day by far, but as the dates crept closer the forecast grew dimmer until even Sunday was looking like a good shot at cold, cloud and possibly rain or even snow.

Victoria – North Summit, Mount

After climbing Mount Sir Douglas on the weekend, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular for the following week. To be honest, as much fun as Sir Douglas was, I was feeling a bit burnt out and thought I needed a week off. Then the weather got nice. Then Ben and I started emailing. Then I found myself planning to leave Thursday evening for a shot at Mount Victoria – North Peak! Darn it. Nobody said being a peakbagger was going to be easy.

Sir Douglas, Mount

Raf told me I should climb Mount Sir Douglas this year (2015) since it was my 40th birthday and Sir Douglas is the 40th 11,000er in Corbett’s book. Who am I to argue with the crazy Pol? I tentatively made plans to attempt this peak at some point this year, and that point came to fruition with the usual crazy planning that Ben, Steven and I usually end up doing. Our plans changed at least 3 times over 2 days, including a phone call and last minute weather checks from Red Deer as they drove out to my house!

Farbus Mountain

After two long, exhausting days spent scrambling to the Lyell hut, climbing 4/5 of the Lyells and even Arctomys Peak, we were feeling a bit burned out on Sunday morning, June 28th. The night before, we’d come to the conclusion that getting up early enough to attempt Lyell IV (Walter Peak) was simply not going to happen – and it wouldn’t have mattered on hindsight because the snow was a giant slurpee over night anyway, with no freeze whatsoever.

Arctomys Peak

Once we descended from Christian Peak and looped back to our traverse tracks from the day before, we decided to give Arctomys Peak a try. I think we all underestimated the amount of effort required to get all the way over to the eastern edge of the Lyell Icefield from the south ridge of Christian Peak, never mind the effort to then descend 400 vertical meters, cross another small icefield and then re-ascend to the summit of Arctomys. Now reverse it all the way back to the Lyell Hut!! Sometimes we are just suckers for punishment.

Christian Peak (Lyell V)

Friday, June 26 was a lot longer and involved than we originally planned it – a one day record amount of height gain for me at around 11,000 feet in total. It involved the entire approach to the Lyell Hut from the Valenciennes forestry service road and the subsequent ascents of Ernest, Edward and Rudolph peaks – three 11,000ers. We agreed to “sleep in” on Saturday and therefore didn’t get up until 06:00. You know you’re an alpinist when 06:00 is considered sleeping in.

Rudolph Peak (Lyell I)

Edward Peak was easy after the ‘schrund on Ernest, but what would Rudolph be like? Well – it was smack in the middle of the previous two. We had no technical issues up it’s south ridge, it was a moderate scramble at most. The only difference between it and the other Lyell peaks, is that Rudolph is a rock scramble rather than a snow climb. There was some exposure down the east face, but it was avoidable, if desired.

Edward Peak (Lyell II)

Next to Ernest Peak, Edward (Lyell II) was pretty darn tame. Other than the fact that the height gains and distances were starting to add up and the day was getting long, there were absolutely no difficulties getting to the summit of the purported, but debatable of the highest of the Lyells. The views were not much less spectacular than from Ernest Peak but we didn’t linger too long at the top. We still had Rudolph (Lyell I) to do, not to forget the long trudge back to the Lyell Hut and the shadows were definitely lengthening.