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Tag : solo

Jewell Peak (Twin Towers)

While nabbing Skogan Peak the weekend before, Wietse told me about a route he’d heard of for the unofficial “Twin Towers” or as I prefer, “Jewell Peak”. He’d followed it a few weeks previous and shared the track with me. Two things interested me about this route as opposed to the more commonly used traverse from Grant MacEwan Peak. First – it utilizes a bike approach which always gets my interest. Second – it avoids a difficult down climb or tedious by-pass from Grant MacEwan Peak. A third – albeit minor – bonus was that I didn’t have to tag Heart and Grant MacEwan again. I highly recommend this route for people who don’t want to bother with the more convoluted Heart Mountain / Grant MacEwan traverse or prefer a bike approach to walking. I do NOT recommend it for anyone with a fear of light streamwhacking or medium sized black bears.

Goat Mountain (Jura Creek)

I greatly enjoyed the Goat Mountain scramble route from Jura Creek. What’s not to like for the typical Rockies scrambler? It’s an hour from YYC and there’s zero bushwhacking via a scenic canyon and creek approach. After that there’s good, fun, moderate slab scrambling followed by an interesting, sneaky route to more moderate slab and ridge scrambling to the summit. There’s absolutely no reason to mess about with exposed 5th class scrambling or ropes on this peak if you don’t want to. I took my time the whole day and only took 6.5 hours, so it even gets you home easily on time for supper. This was a very solid A+ way to end my 2023 scrambling season on a high note and make me look forward to 2024.

Cross & South Ghost Peak

I returned to the empty parking lot 11 hours after leaving it – just as the sun continued setting to the west. I really enjoyed this trip. It had just the right amount of distance, route finding and varied terrain to be interesting without being “too interesting”. It was the perfect way to possibly end my 2023 scrambling season before snowfall renders anything other than easy bumps done for the year. I agree with Cornelius that it feels like a long way out there when you’re standing all by yourself on the summit of South Ghost Peak but on this particular day that was exactly what I was looking for. I highly recommend this trip for experienced and fit parties – just remember your headlamp if you’re planning it for late season like I did.

Gibbon Pass Peak (Vista, Arnica, Twin Lakes)

I enjoyed this hike quite a bit. It’s very similar to something like Healy Pass / Egypt Lakes or the Skoki Lakes area but much shorter. I’ll admit that I was a wee bit disappointed in the lack of larches almost the entire way until just below Gibbon Pass but this isn’t unlike many other larch marches in the Rockies. If you are a fit hiker and don’t mind a 25km day with over 1600 meters of gain, than this trip is definitely for you. I would time it a week better than I did to catch the larches at their prime but this is always a bit of a “hit-and-miss” game.

Allenby, Mount (True & False)

Mount Allenby is a trip I won’t soon be forgetting. I can’t recommend the south ridge as a scramble due to its disturbingly loose and exposed nature. I’ve noticed a trend on Social Media where folks with limited technical climbing experience are confidently giving 5th class ratings to their scramble routes. I won’t do that, but I’ve been up enough mountains to know what’s safe and what isn’t. Mount Allenby’s south ridge is not a safe place to be, no matter what technical rating you might attach to it. When holds are falling into the abyss underneath you and moves are made downwards to avoid pulling critical holds off the mountain as you ascend it, this is cannot be called safe terrain. I certainly used some of my luck coins on this trip. The hike up Bryant Creek and into the upper Mercer Creek valley with its larch forest was beautiful and exactly what I needed out of one of my last trips of the year before snow starts falling in the Rockies.

Andy Good & Chinook Peak

I’ve had an idea for a few years now, to replicate a trip that So Nakagawa did years ago when he ascended both Andy Good Peak and Chinook Peak from the Ptolemy Creek and Andy Good Basin trails. Looking at the stats and considering a bike approach, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t easily be able to treat this as a day trip from Calgary and so that’s what I planned. With a few days off at the beginning of September I finally decided to make the trip happen on the very first day of the month.

Wardle, Mount (Fuhrer Route)

What a great little scramble! Mount Wardle felt much easier than I expected but not in a bad way. The views off the south ridge were incredible and don’t get mentioned (or seen) in trips up the bushier SW ridge. I highly recommend this mountain and this route if you are a capable Rockies scrambler. If you are looking to up your game from moderate to difficult terrain with some route finding, this would be a great objective to try. Exposed, but not too difficult and you should never feel like you’re in danger of dying with a tiny slip – you’re off route if that happens.

Elch Peak (Stud, GR851-335)

Descending the braided horse trails down the Ya Ha Tinda meadows in late afternoon lighting brought back many pleasant memories from this special area of the front range Rockies. Every time I think I’m almost finished with it, the landscape drags me back out! I don’t mind. There are certainly worse places to return to and worse memories than these stored in my old noggin. As I followed a horse wagon back along an incredibly dusty Tinda road my thoughts turned to how much more popular this area is now than it was when I first started visiting it almost a decade ago in November 2014. It hasn’t gotten less beautiful as a result – thankfully – but finding a summit as quiet as Elch has certainly gotten harder. I highly recommend combining Elch and HH89 with a camp in upper Scalp Creek. The only downside of this idea is that you will not get to walk the shores of Forbidden Lake like I did, unless you do a much longer loop back along Forbidden and Skeleton Creek to exit.

Screed Peak (GR796–032)

I highly recommend this peak for anyone who’s traveling the area and has a half day on their hands. I bet the views are grand enough to even justify it as a stand alone day trip – but I don’t know for sure.

“HH89” (Totem, GR831-380) Peak

The first thing I noticed while standing on the 2904m summit of the remote and rarely ascended Forbidden Peak was its loftier neighbor lying immediately to the SE. What was this larger unnamed peak and could I ascend it? For some reason the idea obsessed me and for the next week I did some research to find out more. Bivouac gives it a very technical and drab sounding moniker, “HH89” or it could be known by its coordinates, “GR831380”. It turns out someone else named it too, but I wouldn’t find that out until later. I thought the Bivouac name actually suited this peak just perfectly. It’s obscure and meaningless except to the half-dozen or so folks who might know about it.

Cutoff Peak

This will be one of those early summer trips that sticks with me for a while. I highly recommend this area for folks wanting to get out of the busier Banff and Lake Louise areas of the Rockies to experience a different kind of quiet. The kind that you have to earn and the kind that sticks with you long after you arrive home again.

Forbidden Peak

I couldn’t believe I was standing on top of Forbidden Peak – only 7 hours from the truck! Phil’s ascent line couldn’t have worked better, making this peak surprisingly accessible considering how darn remote it is. Thx again Phil! I owe you man.

Trap Peak (Lineham Creek, EH70)

This was one of those days that is pretty much perfect. What more do you need than a relatively unknown route, wonderful bluebird skies, a goat breaking in a track for you to follow to treeline and a fun scramble with great 360 degree views at the top? Not much. I highly recommend this route for competent scramblers looking for something fairly straightforward with a little less popularity than other nearby peaks.

Owen, Mount

It felt great to finally scramble this mountain that’s been on my radar for so many years and planned so many times over those years. If I have to be honest, Owen was a bit too easy considering what I thought it would be like. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, but I was expecting more of a challenge from this peak. In the end it’s about as easy as peaks over 3,000 meters come. Simply bike 12kms up a road, turn left and go up and up and up a gully on a huge avalanche path. Keep going up steeper scree and rubble. Traverse to your right to SSE ridge and then go up again to the left on easy dinner plate shale. Boom! You’re there. Mount Owen is the “easy  Mount Stephen” – similar height gains and simple route lines with stellar views with a much easier scramble and no permits required. A very highly recommended bike, hike ‘n scramble for the Rockies crowd.

Allstones Peak

Being the first to sign the register in three years, of such a prominent peak with some good trip reports available was surprising. Mike pointed out that it could be the 18 hour trip times previously posted scaring people off and he could be right. I’m sure someone with my GPS track could put in this trip at under 10 hours without trying too hard but I loved our pace and our day overall. The terrain was never more than SC6 at most and the views were stunning for much of it. The highline traverse includes plenty of painful sidehilling but also plenty of sheep trails and easy terrain with views to Abraham Lake and Vision Quest Ridge. This is a very highly recommended trip for late summer when water levels are reasonable and snow shouldn’t be an issue.

Ex Coelis (Stan Waters, Normandy, Ardennes)

Overall this trip went much better than I thought it would despite some unforeseen challenges and the complexity of the terrain. Some of the SC6 sections were at the top end of moderate, hence my “+” overall rating. Many people assume this trip is easy and straightforward because the stats and elevations make it seem like it should be. It’s not. If you treat it as a full day and take your time routefinding you will have a very enjoyable outing. If you tackle these peaks as a backup plan in shitty weather and non-ideal conditions you might start hating your life choices. With good weather, the great views up remote valleys and over Abraham Lake make this a more scenic outing than you might expect – that is certainly what happened in my case. I’m very satisfied with my decision to reverse the usual clockwise direction, ascending 2 of the 3 difficult sections rather than descending them. Rhine Peak is an option for a 4th peak if you are braver than I am, or use a rope on its NE face / gully. A highly recommended route for experienced Rockies scramblers.

Battleship Peak

I highly recommend Battleship Peak for those looking for a unique mountain that sees very few visitors. It’s best done as you hike along the GDT but also very worthwhile on its own or as part of a multi day trip in the area. As far as difficulties go I’d say it’s slightly harder than Tornado Mountain and easier than Gould Dome – right in the middle where it also physically sits. 

Wolverine Peak (Auditor)

Wolverine Peak is one of the best stiff moderates that I’ve done in the past 5 or 6 years or even longer. A wonderful, scenic approach on a good trail followed by some of the best exposed hands-on scrambling in the area should elevate this peak on any Rockies scrambler’s list.

Bearskin Peak (Noseeum)

After a lengthy set of family vacations and over a month away from summer mountain adventures, I returned to Calgary on Monday August 1 with a wicked cold and a bruised left rib. Despite feeling like I got hit by a city bus I was determined to get out and test my fitness against some mountains in my remaining days off. I needed to start with something relatively short and easy so “Bearskin Peak” got the nod.

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.

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. 

Haiduk Peak (+ North Hawk Ridge)

As you can probably tell from the amount of photos and superlatives in this report, I great enjoyed the convoluted ramble from hwy 93, up Hawk Creek and over to Haiduk Peak. This route might not seem very straightforward – and it’s not – but considering that it avoids almost all bushwhacking and allows you to enjoy the only remaining larch forests in Verdant Creek it is 100% worth the hassle. And can you really call it a hassle when your day involves a good trail, fresh water and air, bursting fall colors, blue skies, swirling clouds, fresh snow and distant views of hidden giants? I call that a win every day of the week and especially on a Tuesday.

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.

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.

Solstice Peak

Solstice Peak far exceeded my expectations both on the approach with almost no bushwhacking and on the peak with interesting routefinding and some difficult scrambling to the summit. I’ve said this on a few scrambles so far this year, but Solstice had just enough of everything I look for in a scramble and not too much that I don’t look for.