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. ;)
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.
September 2018 was not the best ending to a hiking and scrambling season that I've ever had - not even close. To be blunt, it was pretty crappy and the worst end of season so far for me! September is usually my favorite time of year in the Rockies. The combination of clear blue skies (no more wildfires), snow-capped peaks and bright vegetation is usually what keeps me going for the next 5 months of winter. Not this year.
After a great bivy at the lovely Lyall Tarn, Wietse and I awoke at around 06:00 to an extremely windy, cloudy and dark sky beneath the brooding rock walls of Mount Lyall. We both commented on the quality of our sleep - the night was very calm and quite warm for September and we both got over 9 hours of shut-eye.
After our ascent of Beehive Mountain, Wietse, Phil and I started a delightful traverse across brightly colored alpine meadows leading under towering cliffs to the west towards the NE shoulder of Mount Lyall.
Once our original plans fell through for the weekend of September 7-9 (thanks to forest fire smoke), Phil Richards, Wietse Bijlsma and I had to think fast on Thursday night to come up with an alternate trip that still satisfied on some level. I remember years ago, Wietse telling me about a few peaks in this area including Beehive Mountain, Mount Lyall and Mount Gass.
I spent 2.5 days over the 2018 September long weekend on a canoe trip with two brothers-in-law (Mike and Calvin) and our sons on the Red Deer River, canoeing from Content Bridge to Tolman Bridge. This is a fairly nontechnical, low consequence river canoe trip that is perfect for families or novice canoeists.
The only "peak" remaining along the ridge after scrambling up Mount Townsend, Epic Tower and Mythic Tower was about as unofficial as a peak can get - "Little Mythic Tower" - so dubbed by Bob Spirko back in July of 2008 while on his scouting trip to find and document the Mythic Towers mentioned by Gillean Daffern in her famous Rockies hiking guide.
After the easy to moderate ascents of both Mount Townsend and Epic Tower, I turned my attention towards the much more involved traverse and ascent of Mystic Tower. I was not about to take this peak too light after hearing from Cornelius that it was one of his most difficult ascents - he usually makes difficult terrain look pretty easy!
After approaching and scrambling Mount Townsend, I descended its slabby summit block and down the only obvious break through its intimidating cliffs before heading along a sheep track towards Epic Tower. Initially I worried that I might have to gain and lose some elevation on this traverse, but it went much quicker and easier than I expected.