As the weekend approached, Phil Richards and I were getting a wee bit desperate to find a peak that didn’t involve obvious avalanche hazards or post-holing hell.
I forget when I first heard of BowCrow Peak but it’s been on my never ending and never shrinking list of Rockies summits for years. Something that was frustrating me was that even though I had a general idea where it was located, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how anyone bagged it!
Astral Peak has been on my radar for many years now, ever since climbing Devils Head in 2012 and looking back over my shoulder as I walked onto its surprisingly spacious summit. The views from this very distinctive and well-known Ghost Wilderness peak provided me with a list of relatively unknown summits to the west including Poltergeist, Astral and Castle Rock Peak.
Mount McConnell is one of those peaks that got onto my mountain list somehow and just stayed hovering somewhere near the top of it but never seemed to actually get done as the scrambling seasons came and went. Why was it on my list? As one of the most remote and hard to access peaks in Banff National Park with a summit over 10,200 feet high, it is rarely done (ours was only the 5th recorded ascent) and gets the explor8ion juices flowing. Why does it not get done, even though it’s on many Rockies explorers “to-do” lists? Simple – see above. McConnell is freaking remote and freaking hard to approach!
Summit Elevation (m): 3005Trip Date: Friday, July 20, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 2000Round Trip Time (hr): 15Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain your wrist or break your legDifficulty Notes: The approach is through BC bush with no trails – so there’s that. From alpine meadows the route is either easy or moderate depending on choice. The final few steps to the top are very exposed and loose.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC5; YDS (3rd)Map: what3words There really […]
Summit Elevation (m): 2965Trip Date: Sunday, July 8, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 2400Round Trip Time (hr): 18Total Trip Distance (km): 42Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you are almost deadDifficulty Notes: A very long and tiring day including remote BC bushwhacking, routefinding, exposed ridges and steep snow with possible ice.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words On July 8th, 2018, Phil Richards, Eric Coulthard and I spent one of the longer days I’ve had in the Rockies scrambling and route finding […]
As we were ascending Simpson Ridge to the NW of Simpson Peak, we kept looking for possible routes that would save us time and effort in a traverse between the two. The immediate obvious one sucked as it involved losing hundreds of meters of elevation from the ridge before following a steep snow line up to the peak. Since it was 18:00 when we were finally done with the ridge, we no longer had time or energy for this option anyway. That’s when I spotted another potential route that would be much quicker if it worked. In a route-finding theme for the weekend my mountain goat senses were tingling quite accurately for once!
As of July 2018, Simpson Ridge had been on Phil and my peak hit list for more than a few years already. The main reason was an enticing comment from the indomitable Rick Collier about his second ascent of the mountain in 1996(76 years after the first ascent in 1920!). Reading that there might still be an original 1920 summit register waiting to be rediscovered put our imaginations into overdrive. We didn’t yet know about the naming confusion or the difficult and multiple attempts at the original ascent – and didn’t realize this very interesting part of the mountain’s history until after returning from our trip days later.
Summit Elevation (m): 2066Trip Date: Friday, May 4, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 1050Round Trip Time (hr): 8.5Total Trip Distance (km): 22.5Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you’re stupidDifficulty Notes: No difficulties other than some routefinding and choosing the right conditions (early or late season).GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words There isn’t a ton to say about this hike to be honest with you. Phil and I were planning a much “sexier” peak for Friday, May the 4th (be with you), […]
After completing a very pleasant scramble / hike on Etherington-Baril Ridge I stupidly decided that I should cap off a perfect day with a jaunt up something named, “Hell’s Ridge”. What was I thinking?! It could be convincingly argued that I was so overcome with the powerful elixirs of Spring that I wasn’t thinking at all…
Despite the odds that seemed to be stacked against us, and lingering doubts, Ben and I finally completed our Sisyphean Odyssey to the summit of Mount King Edward on a beautifully clear and pleasant summer day on August 28, 2017. After three attempts, driving a total of approximately 36 hours, hiking 105km and climbing over 6,500m of elevation in pursuit of this peak, it was supremely rewarding to finally stand on the top. Ferenc Jasco joined us in our quest and was a valuable contributor to our eventual success. As any follower of this blog will know by now, Mount King Edward has been a thorn in my side for a few years now.
I capped an awesome 9 days off in July 2017, with a long-sought adventure up the distant, obscure and somewhat neglected Cataract Peak, just across the Pipestone River Valley in Banff National Park. This mountain has been on my radar for many years now – mostly because it’s high (almost 11,000 feet) without being so high that it gets more attention (i.e. 11,000 feet). When Ben and Steven did it back in September of 2014 I was fairly bummed that I didn’t get to join them.
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.
After scrambling Prairie Bluff in the morning, we found ourselves with plenty of time for a short objective on our way to setting up camp for the night at the Beaver Mines Recreation Area in the Castle Wilderness. I had a trip report on Mount Backus from Bob Spirko who snowshoed it in March of 2014. Backus was located along the highway leading to Beaver Mines, so it made perfect sense to try it. I was a bit nervous about the level of bushwhacking required but it was short enough that I foolishly decided it couldn’t be that bad. 🙂
Of course when I started my two week vacation in September, the weather turned for the worse in the Rockies. And when I say “worse”, I mean way worse… First of all was the dump of snow that covered the entire range of the Alberta Rockies from north of Jasper to Waterton Lakes National Park. While a bit of snow isn’t a huge issue, especially in the fall – it definitely limited my choices for peak bagging. I had to dial down my ambitions from lofty 11,000ers to trips that involved more hiking and backpacking. I didn’t mind, to be honest. I was in the mood for more reflective trips anyway – sometimes the intensity of larger peaks can distract from the beauty and peacefulness of the area that you’re traveling through. Not a terrible thing necessarily, but it’s nice to stop and smell the roses every once in a while.
After a very pleasant scramble on Labyrinth Mountain, Wietse and I still had plenty of gas in the tank to go for a second summit. Due to the crossing of the Red Deer River and a shared approach via horse track along Wolf Creek, it makes very good sense to tackle both Labyrinth Mountain and Mount Minos on the same day. I do have some advice if you follow our idea though. Definitely do NOT ascend Minos first. If you ascend Minos first, you will not ascend Labyrinth afterwards. You will be largely unmotivated after Minos, I think!
On Wednesday, April 8 2015, I climbed Mount Athabasca with Ferenc in perfect spring conditions. This left me wanting more in the way of snow ascents, hopefully on skis, for the weekend of April 11/12. Alas, the weather report didn’t bode well for a nice summit on skis. Rather than a suffer-fest in blizzard conditions, I decided another hike in the front ranges was in order. You probably can’t tell, but this year has been all about one area when it comes to hiking / easy scrambling in front ranges – Ya Ha Tinda.
I really thought I’d be sitting at home all weekend, the week after our long approach and climb on Mount Alexandra. But Hanneke was busy studying and the kids were occupied and the weather forecast was amazing for October so what was I to do?! Naturally I texted Steven as I knew he’d be up for something and sure enough – he was game. We weren’t really in the mood for something too difficult or long. We’ve been chatting for a while about scrambling up Mount Girouard, mostly because whenever we drive home down highway 1 through Banff from the west, we stare directly at Inglismaldie and Girouard. I’ve already done Inglismaldie (and enjoyed it) and Girouard is the highest mountain in the Fairholme range so naturally it was on “the list”. It’s a good thing I didn’t look too closely at the two bits of beta we had from the Ramblers and from Marko / Sonny. Both of these trips were over 12 hours long and the total distance indicated was 22-24km! For some reason I had it in my head that this was an 8 hour day… 😉
Every once in a while I do a mountain trip that feels like it redefines my approach to climbing, skiing or hiking or whatever activity I happen to be doing at the time. This past weekend I experienced such an event on Mount Alexandra, deep in the heart of the Alexandra River Valley near the headwaters of the Saskatchewan and Columbia Rivers. Here’s some words that come to mind from the past few days; bushwhack, lost, confused, rain, sun, clouds, snow, cold, warm, blue sky, crevasses, snow, ice, rock, streams, lakes, boulders, exposure, waterfalls, mountain goat, exhaustion, blisters, bruises, alders, devil’s club, slabs, fall colors, bear, rough roads.
Summit Elevation (m): 3087Elevation Gain (m): 1200Round Trip Time (hr): 6Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you tripped over your own feetDifficulty Notes: No difficulties if dry. No difficulties if wet. By far the hardest part of this mountain is getting up the first 200 vertical meters of it and driving to the trailhead.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: Google Maps Because we’re suckers for punishment, we decided it would be a good idea to attempt […]
After a full day driving to and summiting Mount Harrison the Saturday previous, we slept in on Sunday before reluctantly rising and surveying the clouds that were now hanging over our little valley. Mount Folk hadn’t looked very difficult the afternoon before, as we trudged slowly past it on our way up Mount Harrison, so we weren’t too concerned about ascending it in the clouds or even rain if it came to that. Thunderstorms would be an issue, but we weren’t expecting any of that sort of fun activity, so we ate a leisurely breakfast before setting off up the same route we’d just completed less than 10 hours previous. Good times. Dang peakbaggers…
The first ascent of King George was in 1919. The second ascent wasn’t until 52 years later in 1970! I’m sure this mostly has to do with the demanding and remote approach rather than the climb itself. There are enough possible routes and interesting lines on this mountain that I’m sure if the approach was easier and more accessible there would be many more ascents than there is today. Pretty much the only people climbing King George are either the type who really like big, remote terrain or are chasing the 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies.
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.
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!
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.