logo

Tag : fall color

Pipestone Mountain + Tower

After approaching and ascending Cyclone Mountain the day before, Phil and I woke up to a frosty but clear morning on Friday, September 29 2017. After Phil took a few hours to collect soil samples from Douglas Creek, we packed up our camp and headed back along the trail towards the core Red Deer Lakes area in the Skoki backcountry of Banff National Park. Our destinations for this glorious fall day were Pipestone Mountain and Merlin Lake. These two things are not very close together, in case you were wondering.

Cyclone Mountain

Over the years, Dr. Phil and I had been eyeing up a couple of easy ascents, rising over the Red Deer Lakes in the Skoki backcountry of Banff National Park and on the western edge of the Drummond Icefield. When we finally scrambled up Mount Drummond in late September, 2015, our interest in Cyclone Mountain and Pipestone Mountain increased. In late September 2017, it was finally time to go check them out a bit closer. Rick Collier details a trip that he and Mardy Roberts did back in June of ’92 where they traversed from Pipestone to Cyclone Mountain as a day trip.

Odlum Ridge

On Wednesday, September 27 2017 I was joined by Trevor Boyce for an easy hike and traverse of Odlum Ridge, deep in Kananaskis Country just east of the Continental Divide and south of Highwood Pass. Our plan was to take advantage of the great weather with views of larches and aesthetic mountains in the background. We were not disappointed! Why such a tame objective? First of all, this was our first time out together. Trevor is the person responsible for getting Cornelius Rott into scrambling. After recently scrambling Lougheed I with Cornelius, I was keen to meet the guy who’d gotten him so interested in our favorite pastime.

Howard Douglas, Mount

As I started my annual week off in late September 2017, I didn’t know what I was in the mood for. The weather wasn’t fabulous, but it wasn’t horrible either. Being solo, I didn’t really feel like a huge day – not to mention Phil Richards and I had some pretty big plans for later in the week and I didn’t want to ruin those with too big a day already on Monday. Of course, being September, I wanted larches to be part of the landscape. I’ve often looked at Mount Howard Douglas, either while skiing at the world class Sunshine Village resort, or from various trips nearby such as The Monarch, Ramparts, Healy Pass or Twin Cairns.

Consummation Peak

After a long outing the week before to the Egypt Lakes area and a somewhat gloomy weather forecast, I decided to play it safe on Saturday, September 23 2017 with a nice fall hike on the western edge of the Lake O’Hara region in Yoho National Park. Wietse decided to join me on this venture. I found Consummation Peak while perusing the ViewRanger Landscape maps in areas that I knew had larches. There was only one trip report online for this minor summit and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for – something fairly low (not in the clouds) and easy (there was fresh snow).

Sugarloaf Mountain (The Sphinx)

After completing the long approach trek up Healy Pass and then Whistling Pass and the subsequent ascent of Lesser Pharaoh Peak (don’t forget about “Tiny” Pharaoh), Phil and I grunted our way back up Whistling Pass and set our now-tiring bodies towards Scarab Lake and the diminutive and unofficial Sugarloaf Mountain. I haven’t been able to find out where “Sugarloaf” comes from, but it’s on enough references to be official enough for me to bag and claim it. We noticed quite a few people on the main Pharaoh Peak above us as we passed under it on our way back to the Scarab Lake turnoff.

Pharaoh Peak, Lesser

With larch season comes great responsibility for the Rockies hikers, scramblers and photographers. The responsibility comes from having two weekends (at most) to take advantage of the very limited and short-lived phenomenon of what’s commonly called, Larch Season. This season is sacred with those of us lucky enough to have felt its magic touch.

Walter Feuz Peak (Little Odaray)

I wasn’t sure if I had the energy or weather to do another scramble on Wednesday, September 21 but I had the day off and decided I might as well make the most of it. The week previous I’d summitted Park Mountain near MacArthur Lake in Lake O’Hara and noted the larches were especially stunning this year. After a bout of snowy and cool weather, I wondered how the area would look, only a few days later and decided to hike the 11km approach road by myself and check out the conditions. If it was reasonable I would try to scramble up Little Odaray, also known as Walter Feuz Peak.

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.

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.

Pocaterra Ridge

On a late September day in 2011, Hanneke and I spent a few hours hiking the gorgeous Pocaterra Cirque and Ridge near the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country. This area is known for its colorful larch displays and it didn’t disappoint! We enjoyed warm weather and calm winds.

Wiwaxy Peaks – East Tower

After scrambling up Mount Schaffer on Thursday, I decided that a long hike followed by a scramble up Wiwaxy Peaks would be in order for Friday, October 1 2010. I was hiking by around 07:30 on Friday. The air was crisp and cool but the sky was clear and I felt great after a pretty good sleep in the hut. Huts can be extremely noisy and cramped but stuffing my ears with TP combined with being pretty tired after a long day and a wake up time of 04:00 helped me sleep despite the snoring of Bob the artist beside me! 🙂

Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit (Opabin Plateau)

After spending one of the most enjoyable and gorgeous fall days of my hiking / scrambling life the day before on Schaffer, McArthur Lake and All Souls Prospect, I woke up on Friday morning, the first day of October ready for another fantastic outing. I was hiking over frost-nipped ground by around 07:30 after breakfast and an excellent cup of Starbucks instant coffee. The air was crisp and cool but the sky was clear and I felt great after a pretty good sleep in the hut.

All Souls Prospect – Opabin Plateau

As part of a peaceful and relaxing solo hiking trip to the Lake O’Hara region in 2010, I scrambled up Mount Schaffer early in the day on the 30th of September in perfect weather conditions. After checking out McArthur Lake (stunning) I had the rest of the day to explore part of the so-called Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit, a gorgeous series of trails staring near the Lake O’Hara lodge and working its way up past Mary and Moor Lakes to Hungabee and Opabin Lakes before looping back around the upper Opabin Plateau and along Yukness Mountain’s south and west flank towards Lake Oesa.

Schaffer, Mount (McArthur Lake)

After scrambling Mount Kent the day before I was up at 04:30 on Thursday, September 30 2010 to spend a few solitary days in the Lake O’Hara region of Yoho National Park. Of course, I realized that I would not be alone in this beautiful area, but I needed a few days of peace and meditation before starting a new contract and getting back to the real world again. Amazingly I managed to book a spot at the Elizabeth Parker ACC hut with only a week’s notice – normally you have to play a lottery the previous year just for the right to book a spot!

Nigel Peak & Mount Wilcox

Summit Elevation (m): 3211Elevation Gain (m): 1800Trip Time (hr): 9.5 Total Trip Distance (km): 19Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something Difficulty Notes: Some travel next to a glacier on Nigel, but if dry the route is only moderate scrambling. Note that this is a two peak day involving both Nigel and Wilcox and a lot of height gain and distance.GPS Track: Download GPX File Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd) Map: Google Maps My brother, Rod, decided that […]