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Tag : solo

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.

Gould Dome

I had more fun on the route and scrambling on Gould Dome than I thought I would. For anyone looking for a nice short, challenging day out this is a good choice.

Apparition Mountain

I enjoyed the ascent of Apparition Mountain very much. The early evening lighting, the sneaky route through the cliffs and the exposed ridge walk near the summit block all added up to more engagement than I expected when planning this scramble. At less than 2.5 hours round trip from a camp at Spectral Lakes it’s an obvious no-brainer for anyone brave enough to stay overnight in such a ghost themed area!

Revenant Mountain (Steacie)

I highly recommend Revenant Mountain for competent scramblers. The mountain itself is almost easy after the somewhat involved approach to the Spectral Lakes. The east face is complex but the route opens up once you’re on it, guiding you forward and up to the south ridge. The scrambling is engaging enough to keep you distracted from all the work you’ve done to get there. A favorite for me and a very nice feather in my scrambling cap – one I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.

Ghostly Endeavors on Brocks Peak & Spectral Lakes

I highly recommend this trip for those who like some adventure with their cornflakes and I use that word literally here. You might not get all the peaks on day 1 or even day 3 but you are guaranteed to have some adventure while trying!

Burns, Mount

Despite early misgivings on tackling such a long day and large, remote objective solo, I ended up loving my Mount Burns trip. Even a dead raven, pesky fawn and nasty little ant couldn’t distract me from getting it done this particular day. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good to go out of your comfort zone but sometimes it’s the kick in the pants you needed. This was just the kick for me!

Bellevue Hill

I wasn’t in a hurry whatsoever as I started ascended scree / grass slopes on the east side of the SE ridge. Why should I be? I knew the hike would only take me ~3 hours and the weather was gorgeous as were my views. Waterton rarely disappoints in the views department, usually it’s the wind that puts a tiny damper in an otherwise sublime outdoor experience here.

Sparwood Ridge (Natal Lookout)

I had a nice day traveling in a “new” area with some unique views but there is enough route finding, bushwhacking and stumbling around on this ridge to justify perhaps waiting for the easier west access roads to dry off before tackling it.

Willson Peak

If you choose a warm, windless day make sure you give yourself time to enjoy Ephraim’s summit register goodies and this just might be a top 10 peak after all! It was a perfect mental health day to wander around by myself for a few hours and bag a new peak with familiar great views and atmosphere.

Natalko Peak

An unbelievable smorgasbord of bubbling brooks, golden larches, high passes, rushing streams, waterfalls, glistening alpine lakes, hidden routes, ancient glaciers, tarns and ridges to one of the highest peaks above Egypt Lakes.

Bishop, Mount (Horned, Ridge)

As I crossed the Highwood River and hiked back up to the truck I was once again struck by how lucky I am. Despite all the other commitments in my life, I still have plenty of time and opportunity to enjoy beautiful days alone in the hills with nothing but tiny shrews, forests of larches, cheerful rivers, winding trails, solemn mountains and my own thoughts to keep me company.

Vision Quest Ridge

Vision Quest was much more fun and scenic than I was expecting. It’s Prairie Mountain but with a nice lake (normally) in view and slightly more scrambling if you continue to the high point I did. I enjoyed it despite the smoke and the busy trail.

Coral Ridge

The upper part of the route was much more scenic and enjoyable than I was expecting. I really wished for better views of the lake here.

Windy Point Ridge (Talus, Buckle)

I found myself liking this short outing more than I thought I would and will be back sometime when conditions are much clearer for the wonderful views of Abraham Lake that I missed thanks to some idiots’ gender reveal party somewhere in California…

Allstones Ridge (Lake)

I liked this short hike. It’s a great family option too. Be aware of some hard-pack dirt to the summit that folks in runner might not enjoy if they’re not used to slippery trails that are this well used. Just don’t expect solitude unless you’re up and at it early in the day.

Lineham Ridge & Picklejar Peak

This is another highly recommended “Nugara Scramble” that deserves the attention it obviously gets by the busy summit registers on both peaks. I can only imagine that with clearer air and better views then I had, this would be a pretty darn nice short day trip for scramblers comfortable on moderate terrain.

Evan-Thomas, Mount

I enjoyed Evan-Thomas quite a bit despite its objective hazards. I was happy to be alone in the loose terrain and more than happy to have yet another perfect summer day in the Opal Range.

Foch, Mount

I am happy that I found a quicker route and delighted with the amazing summit views from Mount Foch but I am conflicted about how many coins I used from my luck jar. There’s only so many of those and I like to keep it as full as possible.

Lougheed IV, Mount (Wind Mountain)

Wind Mountain was a very nice outing – a 10/10 as far as moderate scrambles go. With a bike approach, good trails to tree line and a fun route to a lofty summit, there really are no downsides that I can think of.

Tornado Mountain

I didn’t feel rushed all day and other than some crappy riding and forgetting my poles, this was a solo trip that’ll stay in my positive memory banks for a long time I think. Tornado Mountain is a combination of hard work (the approach), route-finding, hiking and gorgeous alpine and forest landscapes.