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Tag : solo

Patterson’s Peak

After grunting my way up Serendipity Peak, I didn’t linger long in the fierce winds at the summit but turned my attention quickly towards a distant looking Patterson’s Peak. Actually, my first glance towards Patterson’s made it appear much closer than I was expecting. It’s not until I actually started descending to the Pyriform S5 / Patterson’s col that I realized it was further than I first guess. Typical.

Serendipity Peak

After several weekends in a row of very low motivation, I finally felt the call of the mountains again as the last weekend of October 2017 approached. My apathy the weeks previous had been mostly due to typical fall conditions – hurricane force winds in the front ranges, despite warm temperatures. I’ve done a lot of front range hikes and scrambles in these conditions and they’re never as fun as you imagine they’ll be when planning them. It’s like peak bagging in Waterton. The peaks are always more enjoyable afterwards, when looking at the photos without the wind trying to blow you off the peak!

Eagle Mountain (Goat’s Eye)

Summit Elevation (m): 2820Trip Date: Monday, September 25, 2017Elevation Gain (m): 1700Round Trip Time (hr): 7.5Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you are sillyDifficulty Notes: No difficulties other than having the motivation to slog to the summit after presumably already scrambling nearby Mount Howard Douglas.Technical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words After a delightful easy / moderate scramble up Mount Howard Douglas, it was time to add a second peak to my day. Why? Don’t ask. I guess I’m still […]

Howard Douglas, Mount

As I started my annual week off in late September 2017, I didn’t know what I was in the mood for. The weather wasn’t fabulous, but it wasn’t horrible either. Being solo, I didn’t really feel like a huge day – not to mention Phil Richards and I had some pretty big plans for later in the week and I didn’t want to ruin those with too big a day already on Monday. Of course, being September, I wanted larches to be part of the landscape. I’ve often looked at Mount Howard Douglas, either while skiing at the world class Sunshine Village resort, or from various trips nearby such as The Monarch, Ramparts, Healy Pass or Twin Cairns.

Ogden, Mount

Ever since I first read about Mount Ogden (likely from Nugara a decade ago), it’s been on my endless to-do list of peaks. Nugara added the peak to his second scrambles book. When Kane added it to his latest book, with a different lower access route than Nugara’s, it only peaked my interest (pun intended). Earlier this year I joined Liz and Mike for a delightful trip up Divide Mountain, which granted me excellent views of Ogden. Based on negative trip reports from Kane’s route via Sherbrooke Lake and a manky avalanche slope, I knew I wanted to utilize Nugara’s approach up the south ridge directly from the Trans Canada Highway.

Black Brett

I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for another peak as the August long weekend came to a close. I’d spent the weekend relaxing with family and was still feeling the effects of some pretty long days in the hills the weeks previous. Thanks to wildfires in BC and especially in the Verdant Creek and Ball Pass areas, the air was also very smoky in much of the Rockies. But I had the Monday off and family stuff was done, so how could I realistically just sit there and not take advantage of another beautiful day in my beloved Rockies? Precisely.

The end of the slab with the loose crux just beyond and the summit now visible right of center.

McGillivray, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2454Trip Date: July 08 2017Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 13Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you are almost deadDifficulty Notes: Routefinding is key to keeping this scramble reasonable on approach. The final ridge to the summit is difficult, loose and exposed scrambling but pretty short.Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words After enjoying a Kane difficult scramble on Divide Mountain with Liz and Mike on Friday, I choose to go solo on a Nugara difficult for Saturday, July […]

Abraham Mountain

After a recent peak bagging extravaganza in the David Thompson Country area of the Rockies, I’d become somewhat enamored with the free camping, light bushwhacking and magnificent views in the area. When Mike Mitchell and I had to cancel plans to climb Mount Lefroy due to a very high freezing level and Mike not feeling well, we switched objectives to Mount Stelfox and an attempt at Bright Star Peak for Sunday and Monday. I decided that with an excellent weather forecast for Saturday, I might as well do a solo trip and spend another night camping in the area. I had a lot of choices left but my top two or three were either some of the 5 Ex Coelis Group of peaks, Windy Point Ridge or Abraham Mountain.

Elliott Peak (Sentinel)

I had lots of time the afternoon before, after successfully scrambling Whirlpool Ridge, to think about objectives for my third and final day in DTC. I really wanted to try some of the Ex Coelis group but wasn’t sure I was in the mood for solo difficult scrambling. I also wasn’t sure about the weather fx, since I didn’t have cell reception. I finally settled on trying Elliott and Sentinel which interested me after talking to Mike about his trip in August of 2015. There were no published scramble routes up Elliott before Raf and Andrew finally found one on their descent of the mountain in August of 2011 after a very long and difficult ‘scramble’ up a slabby gully on it’s west face.

Whirlpool Ridge (Mount Frank)

After coming so close to its summit the day before after a traverse from Tuff Puff, I knew I was coming back immediately to make a second attempt at Whirlpool Ridge’s highest summit the very next day. I enjoyed a delightful (free) camp along hwy 11 the evening before, setting up my mid on the back of my truck for the first time, which worked out great. The only fly in the ointment was repeated gunfire nearby, throughout the evening which kept me up until around 11pm when darkness finally started settling in! The joys of camping outside of a park I suppose.

Ship’s Prow Mountain

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.

Wawa Ridge

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 was the perfect day to finally knock the easy and short Wawa Ridge ski tour off my list. This tour was perfect for a day when I didn’t feel like something bigger and wanted a solo ski. There’s nothing really difficult about it and I could have done it in less than 3 hours return except I tried taking a shortcut up through trees off the approach trail and got hopelessly lost for about 20 minutes or so. How does that happen at a bloody ski resort?!

Towers, The

After completing a truncated version of the Cautley Traverse (missing Cascade Rock and Wonder Peak), I found myself a bit dissatisfied with the idea of simply heading back to my camp at Lake Magog. I was feeling disappointed with being turned back on Gibraltar Rock as well. It felt like I had over-complicated what should have been an easy traverse and on hindsight, I had indeed done just that! Cascade Rock was easy hiking on the north end of the traverse (not the south), and Wonder Peak could be accessed via a hidden chimney on climber’s right of the seemingly impenetrable cliffs blocking the route from Ely’s Dome.

Ely’s Dome (Cautley Traverse)

After being turned around on a traverse from Mount Cautley to Gibraltar Rock and somehow completely screwing up where Cascade Rock was, I started the traverse south from the summit of Cautley, heading towards Ely’s Dome and what I thought was the traverse from it, to Cascade Rock. Confused yet? Apparently, so was I…

Cautley, Mount (Cautley Traverse)

I woke up on Sunday, September 25 2016 in the Lake Magog Campground and poked my head out of my tent only to be immediately disappointed. This was supposed to be the day of my long-awaited Mount Cautley Traverse – 4 new peaks in one stretch – all located along the same, fairly easy ridge and all with stunning views over the Mount Assiniboine area, including of course, the mighty Matterhorn of the Rockies.

Sunburst Peak (Goat’s Tower)

Ever since scrambling Nub Peak, Wonder Peak, Og Mountain and Cave Mountain back in 2008, I’ve wanted to go back to the Mount Assiniboine area and bag a few other scrambles. It took way longer than expected, but finally in 2016 I managed to get another trip into the area. After a long and tiring approach the day before via Sunshine Meadows and a morning ascent of the lowly Chucks Ridge, I was ready for Sunburst Peak in the afternoon.

Chuck’s Ridge

After a long and tougher-than-expected approach the day before, I woke up on Saturday, September 24 after a night of rain and snow shower, with the plan to hike a local ridge I’d noticed on the map called “Chucks Ridge”, followed by a scramble up Sunburst Peak. Both of these objectives are located near the Lake Magog campground and both of them could presumably be done with some snow.

Sunshine Meadows – Mount Assiniboine

Ever since I first backpacked into the Mount Assiniboine area in early September 2008 from Mount Shark, I’ve wanted to go back in larch season – sometime in the last two weeks of September. I did go back to the area on September 22, 2012 but avoided most of the larches by going in via Settler’s Road and Assiniboine Lake before climbing Mount Assiniboine and Lunette Peak from the Hind Hut and returning via the same route. In 2015 I thought I’d be going back and for some reason or another it didn’t pan out. In 2016 I was absolutely determined to make the hike and scramble trip work out.

Walter Feuz Peak (Little Odaray)

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.

Barnaby Ridge

Summit Elevation (m): 2471Trip Date: September 19, 2016Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 8Total Trip Distance (km): 19Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1/2 – you fall, you sprain something, i.e. your egoDifficulty Notes: Slightly more difficult than Southfork Mountain but still only easy scrambling with some routefinding to keep it easy. Note: The statistics include both Southfork and Barnaby.Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)Map: Google Maps After getting over a serious lack of motivation and summiting Southfork Mountain, I decided to give myself an hour towards Barnaby […]

Southfork Mountain

I’ve been interested in Southfork Mountain and the traverse to (or from) Barnaby Ridge for a while now since reading multiple trip reports on it over the years. It seemed to be the type of trip that is more effort than you expect – which describes a lot of the Castle Wilderness Area peaks and trips that I’ve done over the years. I imagined the views must be pretty sweet, as a previous trip in the area with Wietse up Gravenstafel Ridge and Mount Haig was very scenic.

Pharaoh Peak, Greater

As I watched the giant snow flakes fall gently and silently all around me and settle onto the yellow and red fall foliage before slowly starting to melt, I was struck by a thought that has hit me square between the eyes more than once while solo trekking on various trails and routes through the backcountry of my beloved Canadian Rockies. The beauty that I’d experienced on this long and tiring day – and many long and tiring days before it – was not there for my benefit. It was simply there. Natural beauty is something that drives many of us out of the concrete jungles where we make a living, out to a more peaceful and reflective existence on the trail – where we are smaller somehow, and more connected with our ancient, wandering roots. While we feel almost a spiritual connection to the land, we often make the mistake of thinking that all the natural beauty that we find beyond our temporary fake and material world, is somehow there for us. Because of us – like it owes us it’s very existence. But this is not true my friends.

Richards, Mount (Sleeping Indian)

The weather forecast for the Alberta Rockies wasn’t looking great for the 2nd weekend in September 2016. Big surprise. Not! I had a choice to make, and it was harder than it should have been. Stay home and sleep in or drive 3+ hours to Waterton Lakes National Park where the forecast was quite positive. Guess which movie I chose to watch with Kaycie on Friday evening? The Revenant. What else was I supposed to watch before solo hiking in one of the most dense bear concentrated parks in the Rockies?! When I fell asleep I still wasn’t sure what I’d be doing Saturday morning, but set my alarm for 05:00 just in case I got some inspiration while sleeping.

Channel Ridge (+ Wolf Creek Hills)

I still wasn’t feeling 100% on the last weekend of February 2016. I decided that the forecast was too ‘iffy’ to try anything too lofty or remote on Sunday, February 28th so I woke up late and once again drove past Okotoks, through Black Diamond and Turner Valley and continued on to Kananaskis Country. Unlike last week though, this time I followed the Sheep River along highway 546 instead of the Highwood along highway 40. The conditions were remarkably spring-like, especially compared to when I did Foran Grade and Windy Point Ridge in late February 2014.

Cat Creek Hills

After I wasted almost 4 hours of driving the weekend before, I was ‘ready’ to once again make the drive from Calgary, down past Okotoks and Black Diamond to Longview and along the Highwood River into Kananaskis from the south on hwy 40. Unlike the weekend before, this time the weather forecast was 100% chance of sun (instead of 90%?!) so I figured the odds of running into a blizzard at the trailhead was slim. Thankfully, I was right. Truth be told, I’d have much rather been on my skis – seeing as it’s February – but I have a policy that I don’t do back country skiing if the avalanche hazard is ‘considerable’ or ‘high’ so the latest forecasts made my decision to stay off the boards easy.