After a few weekends at home, I was ready to explore some front range areas again - somewhat of a tradition when the weather turns and it's not quite ski season yet. After conversing with Wietse for a while, we settled on Cabin Ridge, also known as Twin Peaks. I was too lazy to research the route, so Wietse did some Googling and decided that road 532 through the "Windy Gap" to hwy 40 (gravel) was closed (due to the 2013 floods) and we should take Township Road 104A (Oldman River Road) to hwy 40 instead - driving past the parking area used to ascend Thunder Mountain. We decided to check out Windy Gap ourselves on the return trip, because I had a hard time believing it was still closed from 2013!
We didn't mind driving the Oldman River Road and then north up hwy 40 anyway, as neither of us have been in this area, at least not for a long time. I think I've fly fished around here before, but that was at least 10 years ago and I don't remember it very well. We avoided the deer along 533 from Nanton and drove through the gap between Thunder and Thrift in pretty strong wind gusts. I was thinking the drive was pretty long for such a short day! Once we hit hwy 40, we still had to go approximately 10km north until crossing a bridge over the Oldman River. From here we turned left (west) and went just over 13km up a logging road (in great condition) until we came to the even smaller logging road to start our hike. I think driving in along 532 and then south to the logging road off hwy 40 is the quicker way to go.
Thank goodness we had Bob's GPS track, because there are a lot of distractions in the area, in the form of old logging roads, ATV tracks and animal trails. We managed to get off track a few times, but it never mattered much since the bush is thin and we always managed to find the track back. If you choose not to use a GPS track for this one, get ready for some frustration. Right at the start we headed about 250m up a road that can be driven in a narrow vehicle. From here we turned right, towards the world's biggest cairn. Unfortunately the cairn was somewhat hidden in trees, so it's size was defeated a bit. :) Past this cairn, we continued following the road, soon we could see the south peak of Twin Peaks. It's further than it looked and our line turned out to be quite indirect to attain it.
[We parked right here, but you can drive another 200m if you have a narrow vehicle.]
[Yep. This is red neck country...]
[Past the huge boulder / cairn, walking on an ATV track]
[The south peak of Twin Peaks comes into view - but our line trends climber's left around the forested bump at center left before abutting that ridge.]
Once we crossed a small creek the trail deteriorated at a large meadow. On ascent we tried the upper left side of the meadow where we found some faint trails up through light forest before finally hitting an old logging road. On descent we realized that the logging road starts at the upper right side of this clearing. Either way works. On ascent, we followed a nice cut line before hitting the logging road again, which we then followed up - mostly on an obvious track. The road is very over grown, and the track disappears a few times but generally if you follow the road you'll eventually hit the ridge that abuts Cabin Ridge.
[The cut line we followed on ascent before re-joining the logging road. On descent we just stayed on the road.]
[We passed under and on climber's left of this boulder field on ascent. On descent we took the road which avoids this section.]
[Light bushwhacking before hitting the road again]
[A lovely day as we re-gain the road]
[Breaking tree line we finally spot our destination at center - the high point of Cabin Ridge.]
We accessed Cabin Ridge via a track on the south side of the abutting ridge and then made a bee line for the north (main) summit via a loose, bouldery traverse in strong west winds. Once at the north / south peak col the wind was hurricane force, almost blowing us over several times! The north summit looks harder than it is, but there is some easy scrambling and minor exposure to attain the apex. The wind was less strong at the summit so we stuck around long enough for summit photos and a quick looks for a register, which we didn't find. We intended to ascend the lower, south peak on return, but the slick bouldery descent was a turn off, as was the increasingly powerful wind. We didn't bother.
[Looking south at the south end of Cabin Ridge from our abutting ridge. You can see a myriad of trails criss-crossing the landscape, making navigation in this area tricky.]
[Ascending the access ridge to Cabin Ridge]
[You can see the 'road' we followed across boulder slopes to the north / south peak col. The south peak of Twin Peaks is out of sight to the left here. ++]
[Looking back at our 'abutment' ridge that we came from]
[We followed a trail towards Cabin Ridge on the south side of the abutment ridge. Seen here is the lower south peak of Twin Peaks]
[The traverse to the col was a bit tedious on slick rocks]
[Looking back at the abutment ridge that we used to access Cabin Ridge.]
[At the col - horribly windy here!]
[Wietse ascends to the main summit of Cabin Ridge]
[Looking back at the south summit, our access ridge stretches out to the west (right). Sugarloaf lookout in the distant background.]
[Easy scrambling at the summit block]
[Summit view looking south (L) and west (C) and north (R). Too bad Tornado, Beehive and other mountains to the west are cloud covered. Monad and Isola on the right. ++]
[Tornado is cloud covered]
[Looking north towards Monad and Isola peaks.]
The return was very pleasant once we ducked into the trees and out of the wind. Overall this is a fairly easy, fast trip with some great front range scenery and nice drive up logging roads past some nice random camping areas. I'm sure I'll be back up that road, just to drive to the end of it and find out what other hidden gems might be in the area. We drove back through Windy Gap and along road 532 back to Cowboy Trail (22) with no issues whatsoever. There was evidence that the road has been closed, but it's certainly open and drivable now.
[Wietse descends the summit block]
[Pano looking towards the south peak and east towards Chaffen and Horseshoe. ++]
[Great afternoon lighting as we start descending our approach ridge.]
[Back on the logging roads]
[A last look back at the south peak of Cabin Ridge.]