While I can heartily recommend Mount MacLaren as a short(ish) scramble from Carnarvon Lake, I can’t really say the same thing about Mount Shankland.
The summit views were pretty sweet from MacLaren, including many of the Kananaskis peaks I’ve stood on like Holy Cross, Head, Gunnery and even all the way to the Highwood Pass with lofty summits like Rae and Mist showing up.
Summit Elevation (m): 2454Trip Date: July 08 2017Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 13Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you are almost deadDifficulty Notes: Routefinding is key to keeping this scramble reasonable on approach. The final ridge to the summit is difficult, loose and exposed scrambling but pretty short.Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)GPS Track: DownloadMap: what3words After enjoying a Kane difficult scramble on Divide Mountain with Liz and Mike on Friday, I choose to go solo on a Nugara difficult for […]
On Friday, June 09 2017 I managed to summit Mount Head in the Highwood Range of the front range Rockies with Wietse and Kev Papke. Exactly ten years previous, to the day, I scrambled up Mount Head’s southern neighbor, Holy Cross Mountain, also with Wietse. Also, almost ten years to the day, was the first time I became aware of the scrambling on Mount Head when some friends did it and reported back. It was on my radar ever since and just never seemed to get priority until now. This was long before Nugara’s scrambles book added it to yet another list.
Monday, April 17 I slept in until 08:30 with no intentions whatsoever to bag a peak. Ten minutes later I was backing out of the driveway, headed for Canmore with the plan to snowshoe Ship’s Prow Mountain. The weather forecast was too nice to stay at home but I could see that the weather was going to change that afternoon and wanted to beat any rain / snow that was threatening to come in.
With avalanche conditions at “considerable” in the alpine, we had several different options for the weekend of January 21 2017. We could ski something below the alpine, go xcountry or resort skiing, or hike something in the front ranges. Dave Salahub had been trying to con Wietse into a day scramble up Zephyr Creek Hills (aka Miller Creek Hills) for a few years already. This was the perfect time to pounce on the idea yet again – and this time it stuck! To be honest, the only reason I agreed to the adventure was the cool sounding name and the fact that it would be my first summit starting with the letter “Z”. Sometimes it doesn’t take very much to get me off the couch.
Pasque is another low, front range mountain that has been on my radar for quite a few years now. A few weeks ago I managed to ramble up Isola and Monad in very little snow and pretty good views, and decided there and then that it was time to hike up Pasque – a mountain just to the north. A few weeks passed before Phil texted me that he wanted to do a scramble on Sunday, November 27. We were initially interested in something a bit tougher but settled on Pasque after the weather forecast proved a bit unstable and a dump of snow came through the Rockies on Friday.
After summitting Isola in some strong and cold west winds, we turned our attention to Monad Peak, lying to the west and slightly south of Isola. Considering our heavy philosophical discussions of the day, “Monad” is appropriately named after a fascinating Pythagorean world view that was steeped in a cosmology of mathematics where the world is seen as existing solely on the backs of numbers. I could actually get behind this theory! OK – don’t get me started… 😉
Ever since snowshoeing and hiking up Monola Peak in extremely strong winds and a fair amount of snow back in 2012 on November 18th, I had a trip filed away in the back of my mind that would entail both Isola and Monad Peaks to the south and west of Monola. After a stretch of incredible late fall weather in the Canadian Rockies which saw me bag around 7 peaks since the end of October, I was ready to give this trip a shot. Raf Kazmierczak was looking to hike up Monad Peak, so we agreed to team up for this one.
On a beautiful Saturday in August, my wife Hanneke and I wanted to hike something without huge amounts of other people. After throwing around ideas the day before while driving home from a scramble up The Monarch, Phil had mentioned Sparrowhawk Tarns. This was a great idea and Hann and I were delighted with the trail, the views and the total lack of other people. Even on one of the nicest days of the summer we only saw around 10 other people the whole day on this trail. Highly recommended, especially if you love alpine meadows, tarns and Marmots.
For Mother’s Day 2016, Hanneke wanted to go hiking. That was fine with me! After doing a bit of research I decided the perfect Mother’s Day hike would be Bull Creek Hills in the Highwood Range near Eden Valley in Kananaskis Country just west of Longview. I was right – it was the perfect hike! There is more than one way to reach the summit(s) of Bull Creek Hills. The most popular way seems to be hiking to Grass Pass before heading eastward over some intervening bumps and hills before finally summiting the eastern high point. I’ve been to Grass Pass before, when I descended Gunnery Peak with Wietse and when I ascended Holy Cross, and I’ve read that there can be a lot of horse poo on the trail so I wasn’t keen on doing that route. After some searching around I came upon the illustrious Sonny Bou’s trip report from January 2015 and I liked the direct nature of his route and the fact that it was a loop taking advantage of two prominent ridges. I love ridge hiking.
Thrift Peak has been on my radar for a while now, it was cemented as an objective while on a drive back from Cabin Ridge (Twin Peaks) with Wietse in November of 2015. I didn’t even realize this was the Livingstone Fire Lookout until doing some research later! There are three approaches to this summit, two of which require a crossing of the Oldman River. One goes up the south ridge from near the gap with Thunder Mountain. The second goes up a fire road from the west. A less well known and less traveled route that does not require a river crossing at all, was discovered by the indefatigable Bob Spirko in April of 2008 when he also ‘discovered’ Camp Creek Ridge. This is a longer route, but potentially involves another summit / ridge which is always nice.
I still wasn’t feeling 100% on the last weekend of February 2016. I decided that the forecast was too ‘iffy’ to try anything too lofty or remote on Sunday, February 28th so I woke up late and once again drove past Okotoks, through Black Diamond and Turner Valley and continued on to Kananaskis Country. Unlike last week though, this time I followed the Sheep River along highway 546 instead of the Highwood along highway 40. The conditions were remarkably spring-like, especially compared to when I did Foran Grade and Windy Point Ridge in late February 2014.
After I wasted almost 4 hours of driving the weekend before, I was ‘ready’ to once again make the drive from Calgary, down past Okotoks and Black Diamond to Longview and along the Highwood River into Kananaskis from the south on hwy 40. Unlike the weekend before, this time the weather forecast was 100% chance of sun (instead of 90%?!) so I figured the odds of running into a blizzard at the trailhead was slim. Thankfully, I was right. Truth be told, I’d have much rather been on my skis – seeing as it’s February – but I have a policy that I don’t do back country skiing if the avalanche hazard is ‘considerable’ or ‘high’ so the latest forecasts made my decision to stay off the boards easy.
Phil Richards and I decided that Commonwealth Ridge would make a nice first summit of 2016 – and we were right. We started in beautiful predawn light from the Smuts Pass parking area along the Spray Lakes Road in cold temperatures of around -23 degrees. The cold was a bit of a bummer as we were expecting warmer temps – but we warmed up soon enough as we snowshoed towards the ridge on a highway of ski and snowshoe tracks. Initially we were following So Nakagawa’s GPS track, but soon we started questioning this decision and turned back to find a more direct trail up the ridge. Thankfully we found another highway track going in the right direction which I’m sure saved us hours of deep sugar-snow trail breaking which is as much fun as it sounds – i.e. not much!
Originally I was planning to attempt skiing Little Galatea, an outlier of the much larger Mount Galatea. After Matt Clay posted that he and Matt Hobbs had recently spent a considerable amount of energy breaking trail through sugar-snow to the upper ridge, I couldn’t resist taking advantage of this on my ‘shoes, and I got to spend another day in the hills with my family out of the deal. Now that I’ve ‘shoed it, I’m glad I didn’t go for it on skis, via the alternate route. The only way to ski LG is via the massive avalanche gully that Nugara recommends ascending and which I think should be avoided by all but very confident and avy-aware skiers / ‘shoers in prime conditions.
After taking some time away from summits after my busiest year yet in the Rockies, I felt it was time to stand on a (named) high point again. I was supposed to work Wednesday, December 23 but decided at the last minute that I didn’t feel like it. 🙂 The weather was cold enough to dissuade me from anything too aggressive plus I was going to be doing a solo trip so I had to choose something fairly conservative. The “something” ended up being Rummel Ridge via a different route than Nugara’s snowshoeing book.
On Friday, October 09 2015 Phil Richards and I decided that we should do a “pre-turkey” workout. Well, actually only I decided that, since Phil doesn’t eat turkey, but you get the point. Originally the weather was looking perfect. Naturally, as the day approached the weather deteriorated a bit but still looked reasonable enough to make the effort. We downgraded our original plans a bit and settled on Mount Nomad in Kananaskis Country, near the Upper Kananaskis Lake and Mount Indefatigable.
We debated long and hard about what we should do for Steven’s last trip before he moves to the lower mainland in BC. It would have been fantastic to do something huge like Robson or another 11,000er but alas, the weather, energy levels and time all conspired against us. On hindsight it was entirely fitting that we ended up doing a fairly obscure front range Nugara scramble with Ben, Steven and I getting lucky once again with the weather! Originally we were planning on heading up Gibraltar Mountain, but after realizing in the parking lot that none of us really had the energy to deal with the long approach (10+km) combined with flood damage, Steven suggested the much quicker and nearby East end of Mount Burns (EEOB). I didn’t even know this was a scramble in the area, but Steven has a great memory and remembered reading about it in Nugara’s book.
After a few weekends of general laziness, I was in the mood for some moderate hiking with my family on Saturday, August 29 2015. I was hoping the recent smoky conditions would be calmer than they were over the week previous, but as the day approached we realized that we wouldn’t have the clear views we wanted. Oh well. We still wanted to get the exercise and I wanted to scope out the fall colors that I was sure would be starting in the alpine.
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!
The weather forecast for Saturday, July 11 2015 wasn’t optimal for scrambling. I knew it wouldn’t be quite as bad as TheWeatherNetwork was predicting, but I don’t mess around with t-storms and so far have never been caught in one high on a mountain, due to a rigid avoidance of them. I scrapped my original plans to go to Yoho and decided at the last minute to do an easy / short peak that’s been on my radar for a few years already – the south peak of Opal Ridge.
For Father’s Day and for the longest day of the year, we chose a fairly easy scramble in the Spray Lakes region of Kananaskis. Originally I was hoping to climb North Victoria early on Sunday before coming home to celebrate Father’s Day, but that didn’t work out thanks to a very chaotic weather forecast that kept promising perfect weather and then changing at the last minute! Oh well. June in the Alberta Rockies is known for unpredictable and chaotic weather.
Ever since I first biked the Big Elbow loop in the front ranges of Kananaskis Country along the Sheep and Elbow Rivers I was interested in scrambling Threepoint Mountain and Mount Rose. I’m not sure why, but these two peaks kept coming up in conversations. While scrambling Cougar Mountain in 2010, I remember looking over at the two mountains and wondering if they could be done together. On May 31 2015 I scrambled Bluerock Mountain and found myself gazing once again at Rose and Threepoint, wondering about them. When Phil Richards sent me a PM on ClubTread asking if I’d be interesting in giving Threepoint and Rose a go, I couldn’t resist. Our first plan fell through due to my laziness at getting up early, but with the weather looking like it might allow us to sneak in a trip on Saturday, June 13 if we left early enough, we made plans to leave the trailhead at 05:30.