As part of my long-planned trip up Centre Peak - the highest peak in the Livingstone Range - I always wanted to tag Caudron, it's southerly neighbor, in the same trip. It just seemed to make sense. Given how much work went into planning the route and getting permission from various landowners to drive and hike on their land, it made even more sense.
(Please see the preamble to my Centre Peak trip report for more details on the approach and landowner issues involved with ascending both Centre and Caudron Peaks from the west side.)
[Our route for Centre / Caudron showing Brandon's approach via a treed ridge to the west of Centre marked in green. Private land should NOT be crossed without permission from the landowner(s)! ++]
After a great ascent of Centre Peak, we turned our full attention to the west ridge of Caudron. We both had commented more than once over the approach and scramble of Centre that Caudron looked more involved than we were expecting. The west ridge looked easy enough, but just under the summit block, the slope steepened somewhat alarmingly and we wondered how easily we could scramble it. Lingering snow and ice were also visible, making us feel like our approach shoes might be too light. But there was nothing to do but get our noses in it at this point - so up we went! You might wonder why we didn't just traverse the ridge between Centre and Caudron, but we assumed based on Rick Collier's report that this was suicide. Upon reading of such a traverse in Caudron's summit register, we now wonder if Rick didn't look closely enough...
[A view of Caudron and our ascent route in purple from our descent of Centre Peak. The red line is our approach via Caudron Creek.]
[Looking up at the west ridge from near Caudron Creek.]
[Looking up the west ridge to the summit.]
[Phil and the imposing summit of Caudron - reminding me of Mount Weed a bit.]
[Phil comes up the broad lower west ridge of Caudron with Crowsnest Mountain at left and the Ward / Window / Allison group at right in the background.]
[A very impressive view of Centre Peak at left and Caudron at upper right. Click to view our approximate routes on both. The ascent line on Centre in green and descent in red. ++]
Once we got over a few humps and bumps on the west ridge of Caudron, we were faced with the imposing sight of the narrowing and steepening ridge to the summit. We could see a route that deviated slightly climber's left near the summit block before likely going back right to the apex. As usual, the terrain wasn't as severe as it looked once we got our shoes into it and soon we were traversing climber's left to an obvious chimney next to a rock pinnacle just under the summit block. As Phil ascended the chimney, I noticed that he had excellent holds and ledges to work with and soon made short work of the moderate crux. I followed him up and then led up some slabby terrain to the summit itself. It was strangely windless on Caudron Peak - very odd considering how windy Centre Peak was! There was a glass jar standing in as a summit register, with only one entry from July. Cornelius scrambled the ridge directly from Centre to Caudron - only offering that it was very difficult. Kudos to him!
[Great views back along the west ridge of Caudron as we get higher. Caudron Creek at lower left.]
[The final 150 vertical meters to the summit.]
[We had to descend this easy rise on the ridge.]
[The ridge gets steep and loose.]
[Phil starts working his way up towards the pinnacle and chimney at upper left.]
[Great views north (L), east (C) and south (R) off the summit. Centre Peak at far left. ++]
[Looking south towards the Castle / Crown Wilderness.]
[Looking east over the prairies towards the Oldman Reservoir.]
[A great view over the west ridge of Caudron (L) and Centre Peak (R). ++]
[A great panorama of the High Rock Range from Crowsnest Mountain at left to Tornado at right. ++]
[A great shot of Centre Peak to the north of Caudron.]
[A closer shot of the upper reaches of Caudron Creek show why it's a good thing we didn't just follow it all the way up. It might work, but there are some serious cliffs that must be traversed over or around somehow.]
After taking in the views and enjoying the surprising lack of winds at the summit of Caudron, it was time to start down. We descended the west ridge until it forked left leading down to Caudron Creek. We were very happy to follow the easy ridge through light forest all the way to the ATV track we'd noticed on approach. We continued following the old ATV track as it crossed Caudron Creek at which point we followed the same trail we'd been on earlier in the day. We followed this very pleasant track along the north side of the creek until it became obvious that we were deviating too far from the road. At this point I simply crashed right through the creek and up the steep embankment to the road. Phil reluctantly followed. The cold water felt pretty good on the tired feet!
[Phil descends the crux on good ledges.]
[Looking back up at the crux which looks a lot harder than it is.]
[Caudron really is a gorgeous peak although one has to wonder why this particular bump along the Livingstone Range gets a name when others don't?]
[Phil on the west ridge of Caudron with Tecumseh (L) and Crowsnest in the background.]
[The rugged southern end of the Livingstone Range.]
[Looking down a very pleasant ridge towards the Caudron Creek drainage and our escape route through the gap.]
[Back at Caudron Creek, looking back at the ATV track rising in the trees in the distance. This track doesn't look used anymore.]
[Following the ATV track out along Caudron Creek which is to our left here.]
Overall, both Phil and I enjoyed Caudron Peak much more than we thought we would. Originally it was a matter of bagging the named summit since we were in the area anyway and it made sense on an energy level. After the moderate scrambling on the upper mountain and easy descent ridge, we both agreed that we enjoyed it more than Centre Peak. The views and lack of wind at the summit didn't hurt. If you have the energy and you've done all the work of getting permission to drive and hike into Centre Peak from the west, I'd highly recommend tacking Caudron onto your day. It's worth it.
[Sometimes the best views are on the way home! We enjoyed this lenticular cloud at sunset along hwy 22 north. ++]