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Tag : summer

Îyâ Mnathka (Mount John Laurie, Yamnuska)

When I set out to repeat Yamnuska two decades after my last visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I wandered into the busy parking lot I realized that I shouldn’t have waited so long! I plan to add this easy-to-access peak to a more frequent group of so-called, “training peaks” which includes easy front range objectives such as Prairie, Baldy, Wasootch, Ha Ling and Yam. We live so close to these gems, why not get out some summer evening and get some training in while enjoying fun scrambling, good trails and incredible scenery? A highly recommended peak for aspiring scramblers properly equipped.

Bident Mountain

In 2007 I made my first attempt at Bident Mountain, looming high over Consolation Pass and Lakes in Banff National Park. Bident sits lower than its neighbor to the west, Quadra Mountain and higher than its neighbor to the east, Mount Bell. It took almost 17 years, but finally on April 13 2024 I stood on both summits of Bident, tackling them from a completely different direction by a completely different method. Instead of a rock ascent, this one would be on snow.

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.

Trekking along McConnell & Roaring Creeks

This trip lived up to everything I thought it would be. A fantastic backcountry adventure in pristine landscapes, exploring some of the last remaining untouched and largely untraveled wilderness along massive Cambrian Cliffs of the Alberta Rockies along the source streams of two of Banff National Park’s major drainages – the Red Deer River (McConnell Creek) and the Clearwater River (Roaring Creek). Thanks as usual to Dr. Phil, the trip planning guru and to me the routefinding drill master dragging us up peaks along the way. As long as our bodies and life allows, I’m sure we’ll continue to stumble and bumble our way into new corners (for us) of the Rockies somewhere or another – as rare as those corners seem to be getting.

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.

Skye Peak (Beauty Creek, Wilcox Lake)

A whopping 9.5 hours later we finally reached hwy #93 and hiked the last 500 meters to an extremely busy Tangle Falls parking lot. There is no way it should take this long for us but we were obviously tired after a massive effort the day before and ended up choosing a pretty silly route. Skye Peak itself is well worth a trip, but learn from our experience and simply ascend south slopes directly from Wilcox Lake or traverse the NW ridge from Tangle Pass if you’d rather do a loop. The views from the summit and south ridge are unique with the hidden Sinkhole Lake and Wilcox Lake visible. This area would make for a stunning fall hike IMHO.

Struan, Wurzburg & Andover (Beauty Creek)

On July 27, 1893 while scouting a new pass to the Athabasca, Rockies explorer Arthur P. Coleman and his brother Lucius, joined by Louis B. Stewart ascended an unnamed peak over 3100 meters rising over the headwaters of Beauty Creek. If one of Canada’s earliest and most prolific Rockies explorer – who traversed these mountains before trains made the whole thing much easier – says a peak as one of the “finest panoramas in the Rockies”, you should probably sit up and take notice. The problem is – what peak is Coleman referring to exactly and how the heck could I get there?! Good questions. I have a source that claims this peak is sitting at GR870–936 and bivouac labels it as “Andover Peak”, named after the town in Massachusetts where another early Rockies explorer, Walter Wilcox received his education. Reading Coleman’s description of the ascent from a camp near the headwaters of the Brazeau River I can’t say for 100% that this is the peak he and his party ascended on that snowy July in 1893 but after standing on its summit I can assure you that it does, indeed, sport one heckuva fine panorama! But of course, I’m once again getting way ahead of myself.

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.

“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.

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.

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. 

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.

Prow Mountain (+ Greater Prow, Forward)

Prow Mountain and Greater Prow took much longer than expected but were involved and fun. Things get boring pretty fast when there’s no challenge left and both of these peaks proved to have plenty to offer in the “challenge” department. As did Skeleton Creek but that’s for Phil to explain…

Tyrrell, Mount (Scotch Camp)

Mount Tyrrell was a bit more involved on the approach than either of us expected but to be fair it was 30 degrees and we were tired. The east face route was wonderful and good fun and the views were awesome.

Prairie Mountain (2020)

I meet the same folks time and again and have run into more friends here than anywhere else in the Rockies. And why not? It’s about 45 minutes west of my house, boasts 650m of height gain and only takes around 1.5 hours in decent conditions.

Schlee, Mount & Piper Pass Peak

Mount Schlee is never going to be at the top of anyone’s list but combined with Piper Pass and the small hill next to it on a beautiful summer day, it’s a respectable day trip that is worthy of anyone’s time and effort.

Augusta, Mount

I’ve managed to do so many gorgeous trips and so many top-of-the list objectives that I think any other peaks from here until 2021 will be bonus material. And that’s a good feeling.

Harris, Mount

As we descended back over the west summit and down the west scree slopes to the karst valley below I pondered how lucky we were to experience things like Mount Harris. For me it’s the sense of exploration, the unknown and finding summit registers over two decades old with no other entries. It’s the crisp views, the fresh air and knowing that very few will bother following my steps over the next two decades.

Kentigern, Mount

Kentigern will go down as one of my easier remote peaks – the payoff is knowing that very few folks bother with this lofty summit, thereby granting a unique view from one of Banff’s more remote spots.

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.

Wandering up McConnell Creek

An epic 3-day backpacking, hiking and scrambling trips from Ya Ha Tinda up the Red Deer River and McConnell Creek valleys.

Shanks, Mount

I can’t really say enough positive things about the Mount Shanks scramble via the route we took. What’s not to like about it? A pleasant hike through a burned landscape with wild rivers and streams, flowers, green grasses and incredible views to some big, remote peaks.

Ostracized (Crow) Peak & Sentry Mountain

After spending just under 4 hours to the summit of Phillipps Peak earlier in the day, it felt a bit strange to be unloading my bike at a completely different trailhead at 12:30 in the afternoon.

Phillipps Peak

I highly enjoyed and highly recommend Phillipps Peak for scramblers looking for a short and somewhat challenging scramble in the Crowsnest Pass area.

Pulsatilla Mountain

A long awaited journey to the summit of the highest peak in the huge Castle Mountain massif with views to match – Pulsatilla Mountain.