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Tag : RE5

Forgotten Peak

Within just over 5 hours of starting our ascent we were back out of Fossil Creek towards the Pipestone River. I was hurting more than I should have been from a 33km, 2100m day. Although that isn’t a small day by any means, most of it was on trail and the off trail part was pretty darn easy and straightforward as far as these things go. I’ve had a lot of big trips lately so I think I was suffering from a form of burnout (mental and physical) and I just had an “off” day in the strong summer sun and heat. I did enjoy Forgotten Peak (my 900th summit if you must know) despite the slight setbacks. The views on route took me by surprise. For some reason I didn’t expect the north end of the Drummond massif to be quite so impressive.

Aires Peak

Within 2 hours of leaving our overnight packs along the South Ram River Trail we were back at them, proving that Aires really is just an “add on” peak. On hindsight I’m glad that we ascended it – it was the one bright spot on an otherwise very challenging and dreary day. 

Cheshire & Dormouse Peak

A rare ascent of a little known, very remote peak named for the Alice in Wonderland theme of the area – Cheshire Peak. A gorgeous approach, sneaky difficult step and hiking at over 3000 meters with views of the most remote and hard to access east faces in Banff National Park make this a highlight day in the mountains in 2022 for me. Dormouse Peak felt like a pretty simple add-on after all that.

Dodo Peak

It’s a heckuva long way into the front ranges but once you get to the old Headwaters Patrol Cabin a horse track leads up the Dodo valley to easy south ascent slopes. Views from the lofty 3067m peak make the work worthwhile and will have you dreaming of many more adventures in this pristine area of the Alberta Rockies. The mysteries of “Ladder Falls” will have you wondering about going further up valley.

Oval Peak

Oval Peak was a quick and easy 5th summit from the north shoulder as Sara and I passed by it on route to the Brazeau River and the South Boundary Trail far below. Views of Afternoon Peak’s north face and over the meadows towards Mount McDonald, Frances and Lonely Peak make this peak a worthwhile objective if you’re in the area anyway. On its own it’s a pretty lengthy march to nowhere for a lowly summit.

McDonald, Mount

Mount McDonald is one of those peaks that once you find out about it, it grabs your attention. Or at least that’s what happened to me. I’m not even sure how or why, but I was perusing bivouac.com one day and came across Rick Collier’s photo trip report from a 2011 excursion into the area with David P. Jones. What caught my attention immediately wasn’t even the peak – it looked a little dreary and very easy. It was the large lake located south of the mountain that really got my explor8ion juices flowing and I immediately started dreaming of visiting this obviously special place at the headwaters of a pretty major drainage.

Lonely Peak

Many folks would have no idea where Lonely Peak is. I certainly didn’t until I started researching remote peaks up the Job, Coral and McDonald Creek areas of the Alberta Rockies. When planning an ascent of Lonely Peak I only had a 2011 trip report from Rick Collier to go on. By the time Sara and I started up Lonely we’d been up and at it for 9 hours already, exiting the Afternoon plateau and valley, ascending Mount Frances and finding our way into the McDonald Creek valley. Despite being pretty keen peakbaggers, I’ll admit that I wasn’t totally feeling another ascent right away. This changed quickly of course, as it usually does for me!

Frances, Mount (Francis)

Sara McLean and I spent a lovely Wednesday morning wandering down the Afternoon Plateau and exiting the high meadows under Afternoon Peak before finally hiking down “Afternoon Creek” and arriving at our planned ascent line to Mount Frances. I’d only seen a report from 2011 by Rick Collier when planning the trip but it didn’t sound difficult. By the time we found ourselves under this diminutive peak it was no longer looking so small and the forecast heat was clearly on – big time. Good thing we were planning to ascend a south facing gully on this one! 😉

Wandering the White Goat Wilderness

In 2015 I was invited by Eric Coulthard to do a trip into an area I’d never been before – or even really heard of. He suggested we tag a couple of lofty summits in the White Goat Wilderness Area. I’d seen a few of the peaks in this area from nearby summits including Mount Stewart from Mount Coleman (the first trip I’d done with Eric way back in 2009) and Mount Willis which I’d spotted from Corona Ridge earlier in 2015. We had a fantastic trip and ever since I’ve been planning to go back.

Melanin Peak

Another great adventure up the Cascade fire road! There were many highlights to put this trip into a top category. Wildlife galore, including deer, dogs, elk, bison and grizzlies. Warm temperatures and clear skies. Not too much snow and easy scrambling conditions on a rarely ascended peak with views forever. A wonderful campsite at a brilliant backcountry lake that hardly anyone has heard about. Hours and hours of pleasant hiking with a good friend and a (relatively) healthy body. What’s not to love about all that? Indeed.

Malloch, Mount

The south ridge descent offered full-on views up the Roaring Creek valley over the tiny falls to giants such as Mount Drummond and Cataract Peak. The deep green of the valley with brown and shades of gray in the rocky slopes above to blue skies and white clouds made for vistas that only happen a few times in a year. Watching Phil hike back along the giant scree slopes with Clearwater Lake and Mount Hector and Cataract looming over it all was a highlight moment of the entire trip for me. We are incredibly lucky to enjoy such wild, pristine and accessible places in a world that is very quickly becoming the very opposite of these things.

Whimper Peak

Finally, around 4 hours from camp we found ourselves with no more elevation gain ahead and no obvious cairn indicating previous ascents either. There were some rocks just under the summit that could have been the remains of a very old cairn so I’m certainly not claiming an FA on this one. There is a good chance that the 1919 geological team ascended here to garner views of surrounding peaks but I can almost guarantee that very few folks have stood on this particular summit over the past few thousand years. Summit views were great to the east and somewhat muted everywhere else thanks to lingering clouds but the scene was wild and I almost prefered a bit of mystery that the clouds provided.

Adventures at Trident Lake

I can’t stress enough how difficult biking up the series of OHV, horse trails and roads from Cutoff Creek up the Clearwater River is. I know everyone can do everything but this is next level suffering – especially with an overnight pack on your back. You might wonder about using paniers instead of a pack, but good luck hoisting your bike onto your shoulders with this option. Or bushwhacking. Put it this way – this trip is among the hardest on this site and there’s a few doozies available to choose from! Don’t get me wrong. The bike ride is a spectacular, wild approach along pristine valleys, soaring peaks and vast alpine meadows brimming with wildflowers. It is also, however, a tough, painful grind along rough horse trails, muddy OHV tracks and unbridged water crossings. My GoPro smoothes out the bumps but I think you can get a good sense of the effort by watching the movie I put together on our explor8ion.

Zombie & Otuskwan Peak

Finally, 8 years after first planning it I managed to knock both Zombie and Otuskwan Peak off my list in one solo day trip. Despite the nasty experience of upper Sheep Creek I recommend my route for anyone interested in these two peaks. It’s a fun, mostly easy scramble with some incredible scenery. If you only need one peak I would recommend Zombie over Otuskwan for a host of reasons including a much better approach, it’s quite a bit higher (better views) and it has nicer landscapes as well. I am very happy to finally have done both of these summits – doing something 8 years after first planning it is very rewarding.

Oliver, Mount

Obviously dry conditions and knowing there’s a trail and roughly where to find it is key to keeping Mount Oliver to a reasonable day trip. I really enjoyed this front range scramble (apparently the highest front range peak in Banff) and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get off the beaten path and onto a much more rudimentary one. The highlights of the trip for me weren’t even the mountain but rather the upper stretches of North Burnt Timber Creek, the sidewalk east ridge and the remote and very quiet nature of the area.

Psychic Peak (+ NE1)

A set of remote peaks on the border of Banff National Park and the Ghost Wilderness that will test your sense of explor8ion more than most – but this is a great thing! A likely FA of Psychic NE1 and possible FA of Psychic Peak (no – Rick Collier didn’t do it, he was almost certainly on Haunted Peak). Let me know if you have done either of these peaks or know someone who did and I’ll add this info into my report.

Spectral Peak

I enjoyed Spectral Peak despite the challenges it presented, as a matter of fact that’s probably why I liked it so much. Rather than a “highway”, we encountered a “no way” but managed to find a route through it “anyway”. These are the best sort of adventures, IMHO. There’s the army guarding the treasure (Spectral Creek), the treasure itself (Spectral Lake) and the dragon looming above it all (Spectral Peak). Experiencing all three of these in a 10 hour explor8ion was about the best use of a Friday off that I can think of.

Whelk Peak

Whelk Peak has pretty much everything you want out of a remote, un-beta’d summit. It is a LONG way from nowhere, has an untamed, wild approach valley and views of some of the Rockies hardest-to-spot peaks with Alice in Wonderland themes. Compared to the forecast, we certainly felt like we’d fallen down the rabbit hole more than a few times but in the end I have some pretty sweet memories and find myself strangely longing to visit that remote valley again sooner than later.

33 Hours up the Clearwater River

What can I say about this area in summary? Well, to make a long story short – it’s worth the fight to access it but you will have to earn its charms one way or the other.

Sentry Peak (Banff)

Sentry Peak is a lovely viewpoint situated in the heart of Banff National Park at its eastern boundary with views of Malloch, Mamen and Wampum Peak.

Lost Guide Peak

Lost Guide Peak feels like a special peak to me. To be honest, most of my ascents are special for their own reasons but this particular peak feel much like some other locals that I’ve done such as Condor, Bellow, Howl and Tomahawk.

Panther Mountain

It was hard not to enjoy life as we sat in silence and listened to the night life start up around us in the forest. Reflecting back on our special trip up Panther Mountain as I fell asleep was just about the perfect way to end a perfect summer day.

Block Mountain

I loved Block Mountain much more than I was expecting to. The bushwhacking and thrashing up the creek wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting and the views once over the 2500m col were even better than advertised. A highly recommended remote and easy peak for those folks willing to brave a slick, cold, obviously wet creek on approach.

Augusta, Mount

I’ve managed to do so many gorgeous trips and so many top-of-the list objectives that I think any other peaks from here until 2021 will be bonus material. And that’s a good feeling.

Harris, Mount

As we descended back over the west summit and down the west scree slopes to the karst valley below I pondered how lucky we were to experience things like Mount Harris. For me it’s the sense of exploration, the unknown and finding summit registers over two decades old with no other entries. It’s the crisp views, the fresh air and knowing that very few will bother following my steps over the next two decades.