An easy ramble along a number of front range foothills with some surprising views and a lot of unsurprising non-views.
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.
After braving fairly cold temperatures the last weekend of February 2019, I was ready for some more bravery on the first weekend of March 2019. When I say “ready”, I really mean I was desperate enough to get my ass off the couch and out of the city to suffer -30 temps – frostbite be damned! When I contacted Ali to find out what she was up to, she mentioned Matt Clay was planning something.
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 […]
After completing a very pleasant scramble / hike on Etherington-Baril Ridge I stupidly decided that I should cap off a perfect day with a jaunt up something named, “Hell’s Ridge”. What was I thinking?! It could be convincingly argued that I was so overcome with the powerful elixirs of Spring that I wasn’t thinking at all…
Summit Elevation (m): 1738Trip Date: Sunday, April 22, 2018Elevation Gain (m): 370Round Trip Time (hr): 2Total Trip Distance (km): 7.2Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you’re stupidDifficulty Notes: No difficulties other than finding good conditions that don’t involve endless post holing or severe bushwhacking.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words There’s not much to say about Death’s Head, other than it’s name is very dramatic compared to it’s reality. I wanted to spend Earth Day (April 22, 2018) hiking in warm […]
I was getting a bit antsy after spending too much time in the concrete jungle for the past few weeks and decided, against my better judgment, to join Phil on a dubious snowshoe ascent of the mighty Kent Ridge, South Peak on Sunday, January 21, 2018. The trip promised to be more tolerable thanks to the addition of a few more people to assist with trail-breaking – Robin and Ryan agreed to join us for some reason or another. I didn’t even know where this minor peak was, to be honest, until Phil mentioned Bob had done it. After some deliberation, however, we decided to follow a more southerly route than Bob’s, mostly due to the avalanche rating of ‘considerable’.
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.
On Sunday, April 16, 2017, I joined Phil R, Raf K and Taras for an easy snowshoe ascent of Tent Mountain. This mountain is located along Corbin Road on the Continental Divide between AB and BC and has the dubious reputation for having some pretty ugly views of a former open pit coal mine that was in operation in the area from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, supplying the Japanese steel industry. We were hoping that the snow cover would add an interesting texture to the landscape, hopefully hiding some of the mine scars.
On Friday, June 3rd 2016, I found myself in the back of Ben’s SUV, turning off the Trans Canada Highway just past Golden at the Donald weigh station, onto the now familiar road leading to Kinbasket Lake and eventually the Bush and Sullivan River forestry service roads. Our destination this time was the very end of the Bush River FSR followed by a trek into the bivy site for Mount King Edward. Of course, our original intent was to also climb King Edward, but […]
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.
Edward Peak was easy after the ‘schrund on Ernest, but what would Rudolph be like? Well – it was smack in the middle of the previous two. We had no technical issues up it’s south ridge, it was a moderate scramble at most. The only difference between it and the other Lyell peaks, is that Rudolph is a rock scramble rather than a snow climb. There was some exposure down the east face, but it was avoidable, if desired.
Next to Ernest Peak, Edward (Lyell II) was pretty darn tame. Other than the fact that the height gains and distances were starting to add up and the day was getting long, there were absolutely no difficulties getting to the summit of the purported, but debatable of the highest of the Lyells. The views were not much less spectacular than from Ernest Peak but we didn’t linger too long at the top. We still had Rudolph (Lyell I) to do, not to forget the long trudge back to the Lyell Hut and the shadows were definitely lengthening.
After a gorgeous 8 hour approach via Icefall Brook / Canyon, we found ourselves at the small, tidy Lyell Hut around noon with many hours of beautiful sunny weather staring back at us. I think it was Ben who initially started musing that perhaps we should “go for Lyell 1, 2 and 3 (Rudolph, Edward and Ernest) today yet”. Wait, what?! When I first overheard his murmured suggestion I thought I must be dreaming. I’d never heard of anyone doing the entire Lyell Hut approach on foot and then 3 of the 5 Lyells on the same day. As we thought about it though, it started to make a bit of sense. The snow was still holding up quite well and this was the coolest day in the forecast. Why not take advantage and go for a few summits already? Why not indeed.
As the first peak of my 40’s, I thought it would be nice to tag an 11000er that’s been on my radar for many years. Mount Athabasca looms over the Columbia Icefields center along highway 93 – otherwise known as the Icefields Parkway. I’m sure it has the most tourist photographs of any 11,000er, except maybe Mount Temple in Lake Louise or Robson to the north. Some people might be surprised that I hadn’t done Athabasca earlier in my climbing career, considering that I already completed many of the more difficult Columbia Icefields summits. The truth is, that I’d been saving Athabasca for the perfect time.
On December 22, Wietse and Dave did a snowshoe ascent of Rawson Lake Ridge. Wietse kindly let others in our group know that they had laid a snowshoe track up the ridge, which lies just to the north of Rawson Lake, and that we should take advantage of it since it was earned with a lot of sweat (and swearing?!). I was too busy spending time with family over the holidays to get to it earlier, but finally on the last day of 2014 I had a few hours to spend alone in the mountains again.
After a perfect day on Mount Joffre I woke up the team at 03:30 on Sunday morning for an attempt at my 400th peak – Mount Marlborough. We packed up camp under a clear, cool sky and soon found ourselves under the approach gully up the north west side of the mountain. The snow was fairly hard, but there was a punchy crust if you went looking for it. We knew that we had to get up and down the steep south face to the upper ridge before the morning sun started to hit it. There was recent avy debris in the upper bowl so we knew that parts of the slope wanted to slide.
On the longest day of 2014 Ben, Steven and I hiked into the Aster Lake region to attempt the 11,000er in the region, Mount Joffre. We’ve been planning this one since May, so it started out as a ski trip and ended up as a snowshoe trip due to the lateness of the attempt. Snowshoes just might be the way to go for this one as it couldn’t have gone any better than what we experienced.
As another weekend approached, the familiar email chains started to fly once again. Weather reports and routes were scouted and by the time the dust had settled there were 2 options remaining on the table; Mount Joffre or Mount Cirrus. Joffre was higher on the list (being 600 feet higher) but the weather forecasts couldn’t quite agree on how much rain each area was going to get or when it was going to arrive and in what fashion (i.e. snow, t-storms or just a sprinkle). Given our dislike of crappy summit views, especially on peaks with tough approaches, we settled on Cirrus and finalized our plans.
On Saturday, March 22nd 2014 I joined Wietse and Dave for a snowshoe jaunt up Mount Barwell in Kananaskis Country, just off highway 549 past Millarville in the Northfork Provincial Recreation Area – the same area as Mesa Butte. We left Calgary at around 11:30 so it was definitely one of my latest starts for a winter hike. You won’t find too many descriptions of this mountain, mostly because it’s in the heart of the McLean Creek off road vehicle area and as such, not hiked very often. Also, the summit views are rather treed in – the best views seem to be from the hike up and from the further “west summit” mentioned by Gillean Daffern in her book on hiking in Kananaskis.
After getting up at 05:00 to watch the men’s gold medal victory in Olympic Hockey I was contemplating what do to for the rest of the day. Hanneke was in Europe, the kids were engaged in activities ranging from sleeping in to animating computer games and I was itching to get outside for a bit. The sun was starting to come out when I settled on an easy snowshoe trip from Bob’s Spirko’s site – Foran Grade and Windy Point Ridge in Sheep River Provincial Park.
After completing Mesa Butte (when we were turned around due to heavy snow on McNab!) Steven and I decided we should go back to McNab to see if the weather had improved. It had. There were literally dozens of people parked around the winter gate and lower down in the day use parking lot for Sandy McNab! The sun was shining, kids were sledding and folks were roasting wieners and marshmallows over cheery fires in the designated picnic spots.
After skiing a rather long day on Spoon Needle, Steven Song and I agreed that we should do a shorter day on Sunday, February 16. We settled on Mount McNab – a very simple snowshoe which should have me back home by around noon and agreed to meet at the parking area around 08:30. As I drove towards the winter gate and the McNabb camping area, the weather slowly deteriorated from brilliant morning sunshine to full-on blizzard! I was following one set of tracks, which I was sure was Steven. Sure enough! As the snow storm almost blinded me, a car came from the other direction and slowed. It was Steven.