As Phil and I drove home from our successful scramble up Mount Berland in Kootenay National Park on Saturday, May 11, my thoughts turned to the following day.
On March 23, Phil Richards and I hiked up a snowy Sheep Creek and scrambled Winchester Ridge. From the ridge we enjoyed spectacular views over the Dormer River towards Dormer Mountain and started to plan what kind of adventure would get us to its summit.
Even before Cornelius Rott forged a route to the summit of Winchester Ridge, it was on my radar. This has happened with a number of relatively obscure peaks over the past 3 or 4 years as Cornelius is attracted to the same types of objectives as Phil and I and usually manages to nab them before we do.
I very rarely repeat mountains. Very, very rarely. I just don’t see the point. The name of my web site provides insight to the whole point of hiking, scrambling, skiing and climbing for me – exploring new areas. But every once in a while I get an itch to do a repeat for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s just that the mountain is that much fun but usually it’s because I didn’t get great photos or views the first time. Such is the case with Mount Cory.
After the crappiest September on record, I knew we’d likely get some good weather in October. Sure enough! After a pretty bad start, October turned gorgeous and by the third week the forecast was all sunshine. After a series of emails and texts, Wietse and I were the last two standing and started making plans for Saturday. We settled on Chimper Peak.
Summit Elevation (m): 2485Trip Date: Saturday, October 6, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 650Round Trip Time (hr): 4Total Trip Distance (km): 6.5Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you’re stupidDifficulty Notes: No difficulties. Your aunt Edna could do this one blindfolded – assuming you were yelling good directions at her. Some avy hazards with copious amounts of snow in the “right” conditions but none otherwise..GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words Despite being in the midst of the worst stretch of Fall […]
I was feeling let down by the dismal September weather and with one last day off before going back to work for the winter, I decided to risk the crappy forecast and drive down to the Crowsnest Pass to try my luck with a few last summits on Monday, October 1 2018. My original plan was to scramble Deadman’s Peak and then if I had energy remaining, do the bike ‘n hike of Willoughby Peak. As I drove closer to the pass, I noticed copious amounts of fresh snow since my visit only 5 days earlier when I scrambled Mount Coulthard and McLaren.
September 2018 was not the best ending to a hiking and scrambling season that I’ve ever had – not even close. To be blunt, it was pretty crappy and the worst end of season so far for me! September is usually my favorite time of year in the Rockies. The touron hordes go home and even normally busy areas such as Skoki, Lake O’Hara and Assiniboine see less and less visitors and more and more yellowing larches and bright fall colors in the vegetation coating the mountains. The combination of clear blue skies (no more wildfires), snow-capped peaks and bright vegetation is usually what keeps me going for the next 5 months of winter. Not this year.
Already on the ascent to the south ridge of Kink Peak, my eyes were turning towards the surprisingly impressive form of Fallen Peak (Sheep Meadow Mountain). Phil, predictably, agreed with me to make it our second objective of the day. After a great ascent of Kink Peak, we found ourselves looking up at the ~250 vertical meter ascent, trying to pick the best line. We decided to stick right on the ridge as long as possible since it was almost snow-free. This plan worked even better than expected.
I wasn’t totally feeling it when Dr. Phil contacted me regarding a possible scramble for the Remembrance Day weekend, 2017. The weather looked pretty good for a front range peak and even promised light winds for once, so eventually he wore me down with his incessant texting and I agreed to slog up something just to make him happy. Ok, ok, I was kind of in the mood for a nice day out and with the wx looking so lovely, it was hard to say no despite my SAD disposition. After the usual flurry of invites were sent, it was Wietse, Raf, Dave, Phil and I who were joining forces on the front range Kink Peak.
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.
I’ve been dreaming of climbing the highest peak in Banff National Park and 8th highest in the Canadian Rockies for many years. I’m not 100 percent sure when I first laid eyes on the hauntingly beautiful northwest face and dramatic summit pyramid of Mount Forbes but I do know that it probably terrified me the first few times I looked at it. That giant triangular face of snow, rock and ice stretching upward into the clouds continued to draw me in as I gazed at it from many surrounding summits, year after year. In 2015 I was sure I was going to climb Forbes with Ben and Steven, but alas they chose a weekend that didn’t work and I was once again left to wonder at a missed opportunity.
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!
It seems that every time someone posts a trip report about climbing Mount Aberdeen (and Haddo), folks inquire about an easy ascent via the south slopes – the alternate descent route. While this probably seems anathema to most climbers, it makes perfect sense for folks who simply want to enjoy stunning views from the top of a very well placed peak in the heart of the Lake Louise group without all the messing around with ice climbing and usually taking 2 or 3 attempts to get up the darn mountain since everyone seems to under estimate the ‘short’ approach the first time around!
Wietse and I decided to take advantage of a nice day on Friday, October 11 just before the long weekend with an easy scramble up Roberta Peak near the Highwood Pass area in Kananaskis Country. The day started off exciting when we saw 4 grizzlies digging for breakfast along highway 40! Thank goodness they weren’t anywhere near our trail head or we may have switched objectives.
Spurred on by a recent trip report on ClubTread from Jose and Fabrice, I decided that Armor Peak would be a nice objective for the first day of June 2013. Raff and Wietse agreed and we settled on an 06:30 departure from the Petro Canada on Hwy 1 on Saturday morning. The sky got cloudier the further we drove and by the time we had finally figured out where the trailhead was (haven’t we ALL done this hike already at least once?!) it was almost raining. We were surprised to find the Bow Valley Parkway chalk full of runners too! Apparently the Banff –> Jasper relay race was going on. Good thing we arrived early enough to avoid too much gong show.
Mount Wilson has been on my radar for a long time already, ever since one of my first trips up the Icefields Parkway with Sonny back in 2006 when we ascended Sunwapta Peak. On the way home we drove past this massive mountain sitting just north of Saskatchewan Crossing and I remember thinking that it must take some effort to stand on that summit! It turns out that it does take some effort!
Summit Elevation (m): 2514Elevation Gain (m): 1100Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 10Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain somethingDifficulty Notes: Winter ascent includes serious avalanche risks. Learn how to manage these risks and perform avalanche burial rescues before attempting this trip.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT2; YDS (Hiking)Map: Google Maps Ever since skiing up Vermillion with Scott a few years ago, I wanted to go back for Mount Haffner. The Vermillion burn area makes for some great tree skiing in […]
A day after scrambling up Little Arethusa at the Highwood Pass, I was back for more – this time as a solo scramble. I really wanted to take advantage of the warm weather before winter really hit and I found myself with another free day so I ‘forced’ myself out of bed and into the car for the long drive back to the Rockies and Highwood Pass. Due to a lingering cold / flu I didn’t want to do any big objective so I settled on Highwood Ridge across from Little Arethusa and directly above the Highwood Pass parking lot. What I didn’t count on was copious amounts of fresh snow compared to the day previous! There must have been almost 6 inches of fresh powder – enough that I almost didn’t dare drive into the parking lot with my car.
During the shoulder seasons in the Rockies, as a peak bagger you have two choices. You can either sit and home and whine about not getting out or you can try to make the most of it by bagging smaller objectives that you wouldn’t bother with normally. Wietse and I have been choosing door #2 for the past few weekends and this one was no different. The Highwood Pass closes for traffic on December 1, so most people try to take advantage of early season snowfall and ski areas like the Rae Glacier before the road closes but Wietse and I decided that rather than wreck our ski gear we would try hiking at the pass instead!
Summit Elevation (m): 2728Elevation Gain (m): 1800Round Trip Time (hr): 10Total Trip Distance (km): 20Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 3 – You fall you break somethingDifficulty Notes: There are some moderate scrambling sections (especially when snow covered) on the ridge traverse from Old Baldy towards Mount McDougall. Note: I got lost twice on this outing which accounts for all the extra height gain.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)Map: Google Maps On my last week off in the first week of October I decided […]
On Saturday, January 7 2011 I joined Raf, Wietse, Marcel and Greg for a front range scramble up Kananaskis Peak in (this will be hard to fathom), Kananaskis. Why were we scrambling instead of skiing? I’m not sure, to be perfectly honest. Maybe it was all the avalanche fatalities over the past week or maybe it was the spring-link weather that Calgary has been getting, but I was more in the mood for a scramble and obviously so were the other 4 guys so that’s exactly what we did!
After a pleasant solo scramble up Mount Bryant the day previous, I wasn’t sure about another off-season peak in possible wind and snow but still found myself driving to Okotoks to pick up Wietse on Sunday morning! How can you turn down a peak with the name “Shunga-la-she” right?! I had a feeling that I should plug a few way points into my GPS for this outing. While looking at the map and at Bob’s trip report I realized that the road crossed the river about 700 meters further west than Bob’s crossing. I decided that it would probably be worth crossing the bridge(if there was one) rather than getting our feet wet in mid-November!
I’ve wanted to scramble Mount Bryant for a while already. We’d gone past the mountain back when we scrambled Mount Howard and I met So Nakagawa for the first time afterwards – he’d just come back from Bryant. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular but I was very pleasantly surprised by this outing. First of all, it felt quite remote. I stopped several times in the creek bed on approach and listened to the sound of silence – a very pleasant sound. The creek approach is also surprisingly fun and easy, thanks to a great trail that runs along the sides.