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Tag : kananaskis

Fortress South Outlier

As I wandered back along first the small Headwall Lakes trail and then the much larger Snowdrift trail to the Chester Lake parking lot I reflected on all my 2021 scrambles and trips and the ideas that I’m considering regarding explor8ion and lifting all of the restrictions I put in place last year. For me it’s come to a point where being grumpy and upset about others using, or even overusing and/or oversharing (whatever that means) the landscape gets more tiring and depressing than the actions themselves.

Highwood Peak

I enjoyed Highwood Peak about as much as I expected to. It’s not the world’s most attractive mountain and definitely not the easiest or most straightforward to approach either. Unlike a peak such as Haiduk, which is also quite an involved approach, Highwood doesn’t have larches either. But it’s close to Calgary, has a great approach trail that includes 4 lakes, is a quick trip and has great views to the Divide including giants like Harrison and Abruzzi. I recommend this as a late season objective when larger and more mid-range peaks might be out of scramble condition.

Smutwood Peak

I loved this hike even more than I thought I would. Sure! It’s overused and over photographed and definitely overshared but that doesn’t change the fact that I had a wonderful time with my daughter enjoying some of the best views of my year from this lowly objective. And that’s what it all comes down to in the end isn’t it? Sharing nature and fresh air while exercising with loved ones and being amazed over and over with stunning views of wild landscapes in all directions. The fact that thousands of others have shared this experience shouldn’t lessen it but should encourage us to seek out new experiences rather than going back to the same ones over and over. I won’t be back to Smutwood in the fall any time soon but I sure am thankful for this particular trip.

Headwall Peak

I was surprised to return to the truck within 5.5 hours of leaving it – I never felt rushed all day and yet this was a very short outing to a relatively untraveled 3000m+ peak. I highly recommend Headwall Peak to the scrambling community. It is the perfect fall outing but would be good any time of year as long as the SE face is snowfree and dry. 

Odlum, Mount (+ Loomis)

I loved this traverse. The only thing that would have made it slightly better would have been clearer skies and a drier route. The mix of challenging terrain and conditions, great views over low-lying clouds and wild landscape scenery in every direction is what I look for in a scramble and on that front this day delivered in spades. A highly recommended trip for fit parties with enough scrambling experience to tackle some stiff moderate sections of very loose Rockies treasure.

Scrimger, Mount (+ Etherington)

Despite the unexpected and sometimes unnerving winds that we experienced all day, I quite enjoyed both Mount Scrimger and Etherington. Combining these peaks into a day trip makes perfect sense for fit parties who don’t mind 25km of cycling as part of their day. If I had to pick one peak it would definitely be Mount Scrimger for a more engaging route, better views and the bonus of the NW outlier. Mount Etherington isn’t nearly as tragic as Nugara implies but I have to admit that it’s also not the most pleasant peak I’ve been on this year. Just as with Nugara however, I don’t know how much of my feelings for it are a result of weather conditions or the actual mountain itself. The wind was getting mighty annoying by the time we summited our second peak of the day.

Forgetmenot Mountain (Ridge, Lookout)

I was hoping to take advantage of one of the nicest, clearest days of August 2021 with a big trip on Sunday the 29th but alas, my body wouldn’t allow it. 🙁 After almost 5 weeks absence from mountains and then a big day with Cornelius on Aldridge and Courcelette the day before, my body was letting me know that if I pushed it too hard I’d regret it for my favorite month of the year – September. I couldn’t simply sit at home either though, so I finally pulled the trigger on a front range peak sitting in my backyard only ~45 minutes from my house.

Aldridge, Mount (+ Courcelette, Fording)

What a great day! I highly recommend this trip for anyone with strong biking stillz and a desire to suffer a bit. You have the option of adding even more peaks to the day such as Bolton or Armstrong. If you are currently hating on loose rock or scree I would set up camp at one of the gorgeous tarns along this route and take out a good book or a glass of wine and call it a day. 😉

Gould Dome

I had more fun on the route and scrambling on Gould Dome than I thought I would. For anyone looking for a nice short, challenging day out this is a good choice.

Burns, Mount

Despite early misgivings on tackling such a long day and large, remote objective solo, I ended up loving my Mount Burns trip. Even a dead raven, pesky fawn and nasty little ant couldn’t distract me from getting it done this particular day. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good to go out of your comfort zone but sometimes it’s the kick in the pants you needed. This was just the kick for me!

Prairie Mountain (2020)

I meet the same folks time and again and have run into more friends here than anywhere else in the Rockies. And why not? It’s about 45 minutes west of my house, boasts 650m of height gain and only takes around 1.5 hours in decent conditions.

Burstall Pass (South)

It’s been a while since I skied to Burstall Pass. It used to be my go to spot for early season or shorter day trips but over the years we found many other spots and BP sort of dropped down the list. On a cold Monday in late December 2020, Wietse and I decided it was finally worth a repeat trip in our new ski gear that we bought way back in early November already.

Old Dutch Man Peak

Obviously a small “peak” like Old Dutch Man is never going to make any top 10 lists, but it certainly doesn’t make a bottom 10 either. 😉 As far as front and mid-range hikes goes, it’s a worthwhile late day or 1/2 day objective.

Fly Hill

Fly Hill is a classic “Spirko hike”. A front range bump with some great views, tiring mid-route height losses and gains and a questionable claim as a “summit” of any official status.

Junction Lookout | “Hill 651038” | Green Mountain | Hoffman Hill

Neither Wietse or I were really in the mood for front range hiking but we decided it would be good exercise and a good test of my ankle.

Bishop, Mount (Horned, Ridge)

As I crossed the Highwood River and hiked back up to the truck I was once again struck by how lucky I am. Despite all the other commitments in my life, I still have plenty of time and opportunity to enjoy beautiful days alone in the hills with nothing but tiny shrews, forests of larches, cheerful rivers, winding trails, solemn mountains and my own thoughts to keep me company.

Lineham Ridge & Picklejar Peak

This is another highly recommended “Nugara Scramble” that deserves the attention it obviously gets by the busy summit registers on both peaks. I can only imagine that with clearer air and better views then I had, this would be a pretty darn nice short day trip for scramblers comfortable on moderate terrain.

Evan-Thomas, Mount

I enjoyed Evan-Thomas quite a bit despite its objective hazards. I was happy to be alone in the loose terrain and more than happy to have yet another perfect summer day in the Opal Range.

Prairie Lookout

Prairie Lookout lived up to my expectations. I knew it was a tough peak and after the easy ascent of Mount Jellicoe it definitely showed some teeth. The views from the south ridge and the summit are stunning.

Jellicoe, Mount

A gorgeous peak situated on the Haig Icefield with stunning views in every direction.

Lougheed IV, Mount (Wind Mountain)

Wind Mountain was a very nice outing – a 10/10 as far as moderate scrambles go. With a bike approach, good trails to tree line and a fun route to a lofty summit, there really are no downsides that I can think of.

Schlee, Mount & Piper Pass Peak

Mount Schlee is never going to be at the top of anyone’s list but combined with Piper Pass and the small hill next to it on a beautiful summer day, it’s a respectable day trip that is worthy of anyone’s time and effort.

Tornado Mountain

I didn’t feel rushed all day and other than some crappy riding and forgetting my poles, this was a solo trip that’ll stay in my positive memory banks for a long time I think. Tornado Mountain is a combination of hard work (the approach), route-finding, hiking and gorgeous alpine and forest landscapes.

Gibraltar Mountain

I recommend this outing for fit parties who like to keep moving and can handle some moderate to upper moderate scrambling and route finding.

Mist Ridge

I highly recommend this hike for fit hikers who don’t mind putting in some work for excellent views.