A quick, fun, moderate scramble up Mount Lillian over Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country during larch season, somewhat tempered by a cloudy, grey sky which cleared while we exited the mountain.
Ever since skiing Mount Turner (Morrison’s slightly higher neighbor to the north) in April of 2017 my stoke for Mount Morrison had increased ten-fold. When Phil texted me and mentioned that he was going to attempt a long-planned traverse over Mount Morrison to Owl Lake I was intrigued.
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’.
On Sunday, September 10th I joined Cornelius Rott for a jaunt up a Kananaskis peak that’s been on my to-do list for many years now – Mount Lougheed I. 2017 has been all about getting out and trying Rockies adventures that have been on my mind for years and never got around to for some or another reason. Originally Phil was going to join us for another (longer) objective, but plans changed so I asked Cornelius if he was interested in Lougheed. As we’d never done a trip together before, you might be surprised that we choose a difficult Nugara scramble for our first outing. I wasn’t worried because in looking at his web site you realize pretty quickly
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 a beautiful Saturday in August, my wife Hanneke and I wanted to hike something without huge amounts of other people. After throwing around ideas the day before while driving home from a scramble up The Monarch, Phil had mentioned Sparrowhawk Tarns. This was a great idea and Hann and I were delighted with the trail, the views and the total lack of other people. Even on one of the nicest days of the summer we only saw around 10 other people the whole day on this trail. Highly recommended, especially if you love alpine meadows, tarns and Marmots.
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.
After a few weekends of general laziness, I was in the mood for some moderate hiking with my family on Saturday, August 29 2015. I was hoping the recent smoky conditions would be calmer than they were over the week previous, but as the day approached we realized that we wouldn’t have the clear views we wanted. Oh well. We still wanted to get the exercise and I wanted to scope out the fall colors that I was sure would be starting in the alpine.
For Father’s Day and for the longest day of the year, we chose a fairly easy scramble in the Spray Lakes region of Kananaskis. Originally I was hoping to climb North Victoria early on Sunday before coming home to celebrate Father’s Day, but that didn’t work out thanks to a very chaotic weather forecast that kept promising perfect weather and then changing at the last minute! Oh well. June in the Alberta Rockies is known for unpredictable and chaotic weather.
You know it’s not a very interesting trip when it takes me a few weeks to write it and the main photo is from the drive to the trailhead… 🙂 Honestly, there isn’t much to recommend the snowshoe trip up the North Ridge of Mount Buller, other than a decent view from the top and some good sweating (and swearing?!) on the way up. I drove up the Spray Lakes road under a gorgeous sunrise but from there the day went downhill. I couldn’t find any old tracks up the north ridge and ended up in knee deep, unconsolidated crap for two hours before realizing there was an old track about 100 meters to my right!
Mount Fortune is one of those peaks that’s best saved for a day when you really don’t have many other choices. On Saturday, March 2 2013 we made our first attempt at this little peak. Due to rain / snow the night before, the snow pack was completely bottomless and saturated with water. The clouds were low and getting lower and our mood as we crossed the lake was following that same trajectory – lower and lower!
Kev Papke was getting close to his year-long, 50 peak fundraising effort and was in need of 4 peaks in 4 weekends in order to fill the 50 peak ‘order’. The weekend of February 23/24 wasn’t looking great for anything too aggressive and since Kev could only go on the 23rd our options became even more limited. I don’t do ski mountaineering if avalanche likelihood is either ‘considerable’ or ‘high’, so any ski trips were pretty much out of favor.
Wietse and I were in the mood to get out of the city on Sunday, October 28 so we did just that. Originally Kev Papke was going to join us for a hike up Red Ridge, across from Mount Sparrowhawk in Kananaskis Country. Kev emailed at 04:50 to say he had a fever so it was back to the two of us. After slogging up James Walker a few weeks ago and freezing my feet off in 12 inches of snow I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for a repeat performance. I packed my Sorel boots (good to -30) instead of my regular mountaineering boots and hoped for non-technical terrain.
I’ve wanted to do a traverse around the Tent Ridge Loop for years already. When the family was heading out to the mountains to do a hike I decided this would be a perfect chance to do it. All I can say is follow Gillean Daffern’s guide TO THE LETTER. This includes walking BACK along the road from the parking area on the Mount Shark road. If you’re only going up Tent Ridge, take the obvious trail up the logging road a wee bit further UP the road and follow directions, but if you’re doing the loop ignore this obvious trail and walk BACK along the road, following her directions.
After reading Bob Spirko’s and So Nakagawa’s trip reports on Mount Lougheed, I really wanted to give it a go in 2012. For some reason it’s already been a pretty popular peak with other’s this year so I knew it was in good shape. When Wietse and Kevin Papke were throwing around the idea of heading out on Sunday, July 22nd I proposed peaks II and III of Mount Lougheed and they quickly agreed. Why didn’t I also include peak I and do the traverse? I’m not sure. I wasn’t really in the mood to challenge the “5th class terrain” just under peak II and didn’t have the energy for the whole traverse. I’ll do peak I as a separate scramble another day. Kevin already had peak I too, so he wasn’t motivated to repeat it either.
After almost 2 months without a summit and a long family vacation which saw me drive over 5000 kilometers in 2.5 weeks, I was more than ready to get out to the solitude of the Rocky Mountains again! 🙂 Since I had just driven 10 hours the day before, coming back from visiting family in the Vancouver area, I decided that I would do something fairly low key on Thursday, July 19. I have wanted to hike Windtower for a long time already and this seemed like the perfect day to do just that, so I did.
On Wednesday, September 29 2010 I was joined by Wietse and Johan on a scramble up Mount Kent. Kent is described by Andrew Nugara as a moderate scramble on slabs and scree with a rewarding view considering its modest height. We found Nugara’s description very accurate. Following his directions we reached the summit with no major issues.
Wietse and I were in the mood to do some quality suffering on Saturday, July 09 2008. We perused the Kane scrambles book, looking for something that would hurt a bit but nothing too technical since neither of us were in the mood to balance on tiny ledges or up anything too tricky this particular weekend.
After a scramble when I think back to it, I only have fragments. I think it might be because of the effort expended or maybe the adrenaline prevents a smooth cognitive flow. Whatever it is – what follows resembles a poem but is really the way I remember the Mt. Nestor scramble.