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 and even told Wietse that I wasn't interested in being part of anything like that. Roughly 5 minutes later we decided to snowshoe up "Eagle" or "Nameless" Ridge near Mist Mountain. I've always known this ridge as "Eagle" because that's how it was labeled on the maps I looked at, but apparently it's more appropriately known as "Nameless" due to an entry in Gillean Daffern's guidebook so that's what I'll call it here. I find it hilarious that considering all the unofficial "peaks" on my summit list, I finally have one that's unofficially, officially called, "Nameless". Bill Kerr decided to join us. My only caveat was that we needed to be back in YYC for my son's hockey game at 17:00, so we left the PC parking lot at the late hour of 07:30, assuming (correctly) that this is a fast, short outing even with snow.
We were a bit confused where to park, but settled on the shoulder of hwy 40 right at the start of a trail through the forest. There was recent hiking tracks which assisted us greatly in finding the trail in the recent snow. I think most people park slightly to the east at a large pull-out and simply walk up the highway. A lot of folks also do a loop going up our route and down the nose of the ridge so then it makes even more sense to park at the pull-out. We didn't have time or inclination to flirt with any steep snow slopes or bushwhack, so we decided to tag the summit and return the same way for the sake of ease. The first hour or so was more treed than I first expected but with a track following the trail it was easy enough on the 'shoes. I was thankful to have them for the grip they offered.
[We parked right at the trailhead, but a safer option is likely further east at the pull-out just visible here behind us.]
[Lots of snow already down low in the forest, but a good track to follow. Unfortunately it wasn't a 'shoe track so it was a bit narrow.]
[Nearing treeline the track disappeared for a bit - likely due to hunters chasing game. We could see where to go at this point, so no biggie. Nameless at right here.]
Once we broke treeline the clear skies and warm weather really bumped up our spirits and we enjoyed the slog to the col in deepening snow. There wasn't enough consistent snow cover to justify skis, but another foot or so and it would be there. The south facing slope that we were on was also quickly becoming a bit sticky and breaking down. At the col we turned right and started up a pretty direct line to the summit above with views of Mist Mountain and Odlum Ridge improving with each step upwards. As we summited in warm sunshine and barely any wind, I was very pleasantly surprised to see many of the larches in the area still wearing their yellow coats. We enjoyed at least half an hour at the summit, enjoying the views and the conditions immensely.
[The tracks join the route again. I think hunters made them as they didn't use poles and were wearing boots.]
[A glorious February day. Except it's early October. ]
[Looking back from higher up with Odlum Ridge in the background.]
[No more tracks from the col! Wietse breaks trail up to the summit.]
[Yes, we drove longer than we hiked, but views like this towards Mist Mountain made that driving worth it. (Plus Bill drove - I didn't!) ++]
[The 'shoes were worth it big time as we ascended - the snow was deep and wind loaded in spots and bottomless in others.]
[Mist Mountain rises 1000 vertical meters above the col. This is the easiest way to tag the mountain, especially compared to the route I took back in 2008. Note the hot springs at mid right? I'll have more photos of these later.]
[We avoided the worst wind loading by venturing out on the south side of the ascent slopes.]
[Incredible conditions as we cross a wind blasted section on ascent.]
[Views east (L) and south (R) off the summit include Mist Ridge (L) and Odlum Ridge (R). ++]
[Views south (L) and west (R) include Hwy 40, Odlum Ridge and of course, Mist Mountain. ++]
[My favorite views of the day were south along the ridge which afforded larch forests at left and in the distance on Odlum Ridge. The Lineham Peaks and Picklejar Lakes are at mid-left. ++]
[Looking north along the ridge running to Mount Arethusa and Storm Mountain from Mist.]
[Looking towards Cougar Mountain (C) and Mount Burns (R).]
[Looking over Mist Ridge towards Mount Gibraltar which is a distant right.]
[Shunga-la-she in the distance and an unnamed peak at right.]
[Outlaw and Cornwall lie well to the north.]
[Bluerock Mountain with Threepoint in the distance at left.]
[Mount Burke lies to the south with Hell's Ridge sitting below.]
[Lineham Ridge and Peaks loom over the Picklejar Lakes.]
[The larches still have a lot of their needles despite all the snow.]
[Looking south over Odlum Ridge towards Mount Muir and Strachan.]
[Looking SW towards Mount Loomis.]
[Looking west towards Mount Odlum.]
[Looking SW towards Mount Bishop.]
Our descent was very quick, as expected. On descent we noticed a pretty large group of about 6 people inching their way up to the Mist col and presumably on their way up Mist Mountain. As it was already almost 14:00 hours we wondered if they'd have enough time to make the summit but they were enjoying the nice weather and conditions so good on them for getting out I suppose! We also scoped out the hot pools beneath Mist but with recent avy debris just above them, I think a winter visit is not recommended unless conditions are super stable.
[Descending back to the Mist col - note the other party on their way up towards Mist Mountain. ++]
[Note the hot springs at lower right.]
[A telephoto of the hot springs / pool.]
[The other group inches their way upwards - still having at least 1000 vertical meters of gain to Mist Mountain's summit from the high point at the col.]
[There is a great trail now that 10 people have packed it down!]
[I hate the fact that it looks like mid-January, but I have to admit it's pretty enough...]
I highly recommend Nameless Ridge for a short day trip or even tacked onto the end of a Mist Mountain ascent. Wietse completed a solo scramble of Mist Mountain via the hiker route in around 5.5 hours (when dry), so tacking on Nameless should only add a few hours at most. Do this trip with larches and you'll get some really nice photos out of it.