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. ;)
Quartz Hill has been on my radar ever since I first skied the Sunshine Meadows way back in 2007 with a large group trip up Twin Cairns. Well, almost exactly a decade later and I was back for my first real attempt. I briefly considered scrambling up the ridge while backpacking along the NE face of it on my way towards Howard Douglas Lake and Citadel Pass back in the fall of 2016.
I was sitting at work on Wednesday, December 13th 2017 when I came across an article on how to photograph the upcoming Geminid meteor shower. Apparently it was going to be the most visible the night of the 13/14. As I thought about it, I couldn't really think of a good reason not to try getting a photograph of this event - other than the fact that it was peaking at 02:00!
Yes. I'm one of those annoying people who got their iPhone X the day it was released. I'm a geek - what can I say? To be honest, it kind of happened by accident when a coworker ordered an extra one to sell online and demand wasn't high enough to make serious extra $$$ on it.
After a great ascent of Kink Peak, we found ourselves looking up at the ~250 vertical meter ascent to Fallen Peak, trying to pick the best line. We decided to stick right on the ridge as long as possible since it was almost snow-free. This plan worked even better than expected.
I wasn't totally feeling it when Dr. Phil contacted me regarding a possible scramble for the Remembrance Day weekend, 2017. The weather looked pretty good for a front range peak and even promised light winds for once, so eventually he wore me down with his incessant texting and I agreed to slog up something just to make him happy.
Saturday, October 28 was shaping up to be very pleasant. Serendipity with a traverse to Patterson's Peak has been on my radar for many years and seemed like a perfect late season trip. I tried recruiting my usual trip partners but in the end this ended up being a solo venture. I didn't mind. It was a fitting way to end my scrambling season and I was in the mood for some solitude.
With the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend and some unexpected days off work beforehand, I was looking to take advantage of a pretty nice wx with a scramble or two before the snow starts to pile up in earnest around the Rockies. Lucky for me, I received an invite from Cornelius and Trevor inviting me for a jaunt up the relatively obscure front range mountain, "Castle Rock".
When Phil and I set out to scramble Pipestone Mountain, near the Red Deer Lakes and Drummond Icefield on the eastern edge of the Skoki area in Banff National Park, we had no idea how confusing finding and naming the darn summit would be! In the end we had to settle on a rather odd arrangement that I'm sure will not satisfy everyone but made sense to us.
After approaching and ascending Cyclone Mountain the day before, Phil and I woke up to a frosty but clear morning on Friday, September 29 2017. Our destinations for this glorious fall day were Pipestone Mountain and Merlin Lake. These two things are not very close together, in case you were wondering.
On Wednesday, September 27 2017 I was joined by Trevor Boyce for an easy hike and traverse of Odlum Ridge, deep in Kananaskis Country just east of the Continental Divide and south of Highwood Pass. Our plan was to take advantage of the great weather with views of larches and aesthetic mountains in the background. We were not disappointed!
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 a peakbagger at heart because there's really no reason to grind up Eagle Mountain other than to claim another summit. In my case I also got better views.
After completing the long approach trek up Healy and Whistling Passes and the subsequent ascent of Lesser Pharaoh Peak (don't forget about "Tiny" Pharaoh), Phil and I grunted our way back towards the diminutive and unofficial Sugarloaf Mountain. I haven't been able to find out where "Sugarloaf" comes from, but it's on enough references to be official enough for me to bag and claim it.
With larch season comes great responsibility for the Rockies hiker, scrambler and photographer. The responsibility comes from having two weeks to take advantage of the very limited and short-lived phenomenon of what's commonly called, <dramatic music>Larch Season</dramatic music>. This season is sacred with those of us lucky enough to have felt its magic touch. For two weeks in September we are overcome with gold fever.