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. ;)
After a sublime day on Mount Denny the day before, I was not keen on sitting out the rest of the weekend despite a pretty dismal weather forecast. After downgrading objectives a few times, I settled on an easy scramble / hike to Buller Creek Peak as outlined in Andrew Nugara's, More Scrambles guidebook.
Spring scrambling in the Rockies around Calgary has always been an interesting game of trying to decide what's in shape and what is still out of scrambling condition. With the prevalence of social media, the game has become somewhat rigged with a flood of trip reports coming out after every weekend from all corners of the Rockies.
Saturday, June 2 2018 was looking like a mixed bag of Spring weather. Phil and I decided to play it easy and get out for an "exercise day" - hopefully one with some great views. Phil had put Ochre Spring Peak on our list a while ago already, but I'd never paid it much attention until the Matt's (Hobbs and Clay) recently posted trip reports on it, demonstrating some pretty sweet views.
Wietse, Phil, Calvin and I took advantage of yet another great May weather forecast on Sunday, May 27th 2018 to summit a peak that's been on my list for the past few Alberta spring scrambling seasons thanks to its position on the front ranges of the Rockies near the Crowsnest Pass. For some reason Phil and I ended up canceling several planned excursions here, but alls well that ends well - and we picked the perfect day in the end.
On a very warm Friday, May 25, 2018, I finally got to ascend a front-range peak in the Ghost Wilderness that I've had on my radar for many years already - Orient Point. Why has it been on my "to-do" list so long? Simple! I've been hearing some pretty great things about it from friends and acquaintances over the years.
My first ascent of Midnight Peak was well before it became the very popular front range peak that it is nowadays. Way back in October of 2010 I enjoyed a pretty nice fall hike from the Baldy Pass approach. My second ascent was slightly more tiring as was from a slightly different angle too!
At this point on a gorgeous spring day on May 19, 2018, Wietse and I were already over 6 hours into our day and a LONG way from our vehicle. As we descended the easy, snowy NW ridge of Boundary Peak towards Midday Peak, we also met other people for the first time that day.
Boundary Peak was the highest point on Wietse and my 21km, 1700m+, 10.5 hour Porcupine Loop traverse. As we started the seemingly long trek from Crown Peak towards Boundary Ridge, we were starting to realize that this is a pretty big day - especially for a bunch of front range, unofficial summits. It was also a gorgeous day. Perfect for ridge hiking in every way. No wind. Not too hot. Great views.
"Crown Peak" is probably the most questionable summit that Wietse and I claimed on our fantastic Porcupine Loop scramble on May 19, 2018. I got the name off the Gaia base map I used to plan our trip. The reason we claimed it is simple. It's a LONG way from the road, it's higher than anything we stood on up to that point and it's distinct enough from its neighboring peaks to justify with its own page. YMMV - it's the Internet - we all get an opinion!
After enjoying the summit of Porcupine Ridge, Wietse and I turned our attention towards it's extension summit - Porcupine Tower. I have to admit, things get a bit interesting as far as naming and claiming summits, especially on long ridge traverses such as the Porcupine Loop. Wietse and I spent more than one occasion chuckling at the fact that likely NONE of the "summits" on this loop are official.
On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Wietse and I finally completed a nice front range hiking / scrambling loop that I've been eyeing up for several years. The Porcupine Loop starts with an pleasant hike / easy scramble up Porcupine Ridge before leading over moderate terrain to a few more summits west of Tiara Peak.
On Saturday while driving back to YYC with Wietse after scrambling Cougar Peak, I was musing about possible destinations for the next day when he suggested "Wasootch Ridge" as a good hike or easy scramble to do with my daughter. I did some quick on-the-spot research on my phone and quickly realized this was the perfect early season objective for us.
Cougar Peak (in the Fairholme Range rather than in the North Highwood) has slowly become a popular Spring objective for people like me, eager to bag something more than a front range bump when many other deeper range peaks are still plastered in a mushy white coat of unpredictability.
Hanneke had a rare opportunity to join me for a hike on Sunday, May 6th 2018 so I figured I should take advantage of that. I was determined not to make her wade through the knee deep snow drifts that I kept ending up in over the past few weeks and decided that surely Stony Ridge in the Highwood area of Kananaskis would be dry by now?
Phil and I were planning a much "sexier" peak for Friday, May the 4th (be with you) but for a variety of reasons ended up on this one. I'll let my photos do most of the talking on this trip report other than to say it was an enjoyable hike on a beautiful day, but not something that's likely done very often for good reason.
Some people might wonder why I even bother with these front range, tiny bumps and hills. Am I relentlessly obsessed with summits, no matter their size or import? Do I love hiking up grassy, forested ridges? Would I rather hike up a grassy, treed bump in the front ranges than go for yet another walk in the concrete jungle of my neighborhood back in YYC? Yes.
After completing a very pleasant scramble / hike on Etherington-Baril Ridge I stupidly decided that I should cap off a perfect day with a jaunt up something named, "Hell's Ridge". What was I thinking?! It could be convincingly argued that I was so overcome with the powerful elixirs of Spring that I wasn't thinking at all...