It is with a great deal of trepidation that I'm announcing my intention to migrate all the content on explor8ion.com to a more modern, updated format. Why the fear and trembling on my part? It's a daunting task ahead of me. Over the years I've managed to create two monsters in the forms of explor8ion.com with over 650 trip reports and verndewit.com with tens of thousands of photos. This migration effort will eventually bring both domains together but for now they will exist separately - I apologize for the confusion. Please be patient with some churn on both sites, while I spend the next few years on this very huge, very non-trivial exercise. During the change, you will see highlighted sections such as the one below from my Chimper Peak trip. This highlighted section will show up in every trip report as I move them over.
!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2018/10/20/chimper-peak/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.
I've been asked many times for a list of my top 10 hikes, backpacking trips, scrambles, climbs and so forth. I thought about it for a bit and decided that it would be best to separate my top 10 lists into several categories, so here goes. Please note that I will update these lists as I continue to find "better" options. ;)
I’ve scouted, planned and schemed many trips into the eastern Rockies mountains over the years and have started slowly chipping away at the list. It’s a tough area to explore but it’s worth it. Mount McConnell and Cataract Peak are just two examples of what makes these trips worthwhile if you like adventure. Dormer Mountain falls into this category of trips.
I've heard of the Observation Sub Peaks for many years as a pretty tame but highly recommended ski objective along the Icefields Parkway near Bow Summit and Bow Lake in Banff National Park. There's so many bumps and minor peaks along the ridge extending south of Observation Peak to Cirque Peak that I was never quite sure where exactly these sub peaks were. On Saturday, March 30 2019 I decided it was time to find out!
Even before Cornelius Rott forged a route to the summit of Winchester Ridge, it was on my radar. This has happened with a number of relatively obscure peaks over the past 3 or 4 years as Cornelius is attracted to the same types of objectives as Phil and I. Apparently he also has more time to go bag them...
On Sunday March 27, 2011 So Nakagawa and I skied to the summit of Crowfoot Mountain and on Saturday March 16 2019 I repeated it with Wietse Bijlsma. I always figured I’d repeat this mountain since it’s relatively easy and a surprisingly short day despite being over 1200 meters of height gain and almost 20 km of distance from the Bow Lake parking lot.
After braving cold temperatures the last weekend of February 2019, I was ready for some more bravery on the first weekend of March 2019. When I say "ready", I really mean I was desperate enough to get my ass off the couch and out of the city to suffer -30 temps - frostbite be damned! When I contacted Ali to find out what she was up to, she mentioned Matt Clay was planning something.
After missing out on a gorgeous day on Family day, I was absolutely determined to try something (anything!) on the following weekend. The weather forecast wasn't looking ideal with 2 hours of sun and overcast conditions but I decided to follow Matt and Alison's ascent tracks up Helena Ridge East no matter what the views might be.
Since my last ill-fated trip with Dr. Phil in an ill-advised November attempt of Stenton Peak and subsequent follow up failure on an unnamed pile of choss nearby, my mountain mojo has been sitting somewhere between a 0 and a 1 with 10 being the amount of mojo required for peaks like McConnell and 8 being the amount required to get me out of bed at 04:00 on a weekend morning.
Astral Peak has been on my radar for many years now, ever since climbing Devils Head in 2012 and looking back over my shoulder as I walked onto its surprisingly spacious summit. The views from this very distinctive and well-known Ghost Wilderness peak provided me with a list of relatively unknown summits to the west including Poltergeist, Astral and Castle Rock Peak.
I very rarely repeat mountains. Very, very rarely. I just don't see the point. But every once in a while I get an itch to do a repeat for whatever reason. Sometimes it's just that the mountain is that much fun but usually it's because I didn't get great photos or views the first time. Such is the case with Mount Cory.
After a series of emails and texts, Wietse and I were the last two standing and started making plans for Saturday. We settled on Chimper Peak for the simple reason that Nugara makes specific mention that snow is welcome on this peak. We figured we'd win either way. If it was dry than we'd enjoy one last dry scramble for the season and if there was snow apparently that would assist our efforts.
Despite being in the midst of the worst stretch of Fall weather I have ever experienced in the Rockies, the first day of the Thanksgiving long weekend was shaping up to be a stunner and Wietse and I were determined to take advantage of it somehow, some way. I have to be honest with you. I was SUPER depressed at the thought of snowshoeing so early in the season.
I was feeling let down by the dismal September weather and with one last day off before going back to work for the winter, I decided to risk a crappy forecast and drive down to the Crowsnest Pass area to try my luck with a few last summits on Monday, October 1 2018. On the drive down hwy 22 I noticed a lot more snow than only a few days previous.
As indicated in the "Interesting Facts" above regarding this peak, Phil and I weren't sure where "RA" Peak actually was! After returning from the summit of Jake Smith Peak, I was feeling a bit more energy than before the short scramble and we decided that since we were in the area, we might as well tag both Red Argillite peaks.
From the summit of Three Lakes Ridge we had a choice to make. Despite the gorgeous weather Phil and I were obviously enjoying, it was already past 14:00 hours and we were a long way from the parking lot. We knew we didn't have time, or possibly the conditions (too snowy) to do Scarpe Mountain and it is best off combined with JSP and RA rather than done on its own.
After approaching the Middlepass Lakes and scrambling up Rainy Ridge it was time to traverse towards the creatively named, "Three Lakes Ridge" - the professional cartographers must have been on holidays when these peaks were monikered. Nugara mentions the traverse between Rainy and Three Lakes Ridge as doable but not highly recommended.
A day after ascending close to 1800 vertical meters and biking / hiking and scrambling almost 30km up and down Mount Coulthard and McLaren in the Crowsnest Pass area, I was back at it with Phil Richards. We were planning a very full day of biking, hiking and peakbagging in the South Rockies within the newly formed Castle Wildland Provincial Park.
Whenever I looked into the Mount Coulthard scramble, I always ended up wondering why nobody seemed willing to combine it with its easy neighboring peak, Mount McLaren. I decided it was time someone tried it and posted it as a good idea - provided it was a good one of course. As it turns out - it was a very good idea.