With the recent death of Ueli Steck on Nuptse in Nepal, internet forums and Facebook posts are ripe with the old platitudes about "living your dreams" and "no regrets". I agree 100% that Ueli obviously lived his dream and now that he's gone, he obviously has no regrets (that's true for every dead person). Two excellent articles that I came across on the topic of "no regrets" in pursuit of your own dreams, include this one by Andy Kirkpatrick and this one by Will Gadd.
After getting over a serious lack of motivation and summiting Southfork Mountain, I decided to give myself an hour towards Barnaby Ridge to see where that would take me. The weather seemed to be clearing a bit but the wind was pretty strong so I bundled up in my Gore-tex layers and trundled off, south along Barnaby Ridge towards it's unseen summit.
I've been interested in Southfork Mountain and the traverse to (or from) Barnaby Ridge for a while now since reading multiple trip reports on it over the years. It seemed to be the type of trip that is more effort than you expect - which describes a lot of the Castle Wilderness Area peaks and trips that I've done over the years.
As I watched the giant snow flakes fall gently and silently all around me and settle onto the yellow and red fall foliage before slowly starting to melt, I was struck by a thought that has hit me square between the eyes more than once while solo trekking on various trails and routes through the backcountry of my beloved Canadian Rockies. The beauty that I'd experienced on this long and tiring day - and many long and tiring days before it - was not there for my benefit. It was simply there.
I've been eyeing Park Mountain before I knew what it's name was. The first time I hiked up Mount Schaffer I wondered what that nice mountain to the south, across McArthur Lake was and whether or not it was a scramble. Over the years I learned that it was called "Park Mountain" but never did read any detailed online trip reports from anyone who'd done it.
The weather forecast for the Alberta Rockies wasn't looking great for the 2nd weekend in September 2016. Big surprise. Not! I had a choice to make, and it was harder than it should have been. Stay home and sleep in or drive 3+ hours to Waterton Lakes National Park where the forecast was quite positive.
After summiting McGillivray Ridge in better-than-expected weather conditions, Wietse, Dave and I turned our attention to Ma Butte - a nice looking ridge to the west of McGillivray, sitting pretty in front of the impressive Crowsnest Mountain massif.
Wietse, Dave and I were approaching the trail head for Southfork Mountain and Barnaby Ridge when we noticed dark clouds and rain on the windshield. Since nobody felt like hiking or scrambling in the rain, we started searching our minds for easier objectives that could be done in the rain and wouldn't involve driving too terribly far.
Some days are thrown off track even before reaching the parking lot. On Friday, August 26th 2016, Wietse Bylsma and myself started our day with similar missteps to my infamous Cockscomb trip and continued to stumble and bumble our way towards and then up and then down and then up Mount Brewster. Ironically, Brewster is Cockscomb's twin across the valley.
On Friday, August 19th I was joined by the indefatigable Phil Richards and Wietse Bylsma for another longish day trip in the Canadian Rockies. After two previous off-trail adventures to Breaker and Molar, Phil and I decided that it was time for a mostly on-trail objective. We settled on The Monarch, located between Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and Kootenay National Park in British Columbia.
There are some mountains that really stir my gut when I think about doing them. For some reason Molar Mountain has been one such peak ever since I first saw a trip report and the corresponding stunning photographs from Andrew Nugara back in 2007. Without a doubt this is a top favorite scramble for me and worth every ounce of suffering that it's summit might entail.
A wonderful off-trail scramble to a rarely visited and rarely seen area of Banff National Park, hidden high above Mistaya Lake and nestled between peaks on the Great Divide that runs between Alberta and BC. The Capricorn Lake area is a magical place of rushing streams, brilliantly colored lakes and soaring snow and ice covered mountains.
A 16 day father / son wilderness canoe trip into the heart of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. We traveled around 140km in two loops from Onnie Lake through Glenn, Haven and Mexican Hat and then Telescope, Hatchet, Douglas and back to Onnie Lake. For the first 12 days we were just with the two of us. The last 4 days we joined up with a group of friends to finish our adventure in good company.
I was happy with the outcome of Friday's scramble up Devil's Thumb and instantly began planning another objective for Sunday. As the weekend progressed, the weather deteriorated for the Bow Lake area and soon the date slipped to Monday. Kaycie and I agreed that we'd get up at 04:45 and try to be off the mountain by around noon - hopefully beating the mad holiday weekend traffic rush from the mountains to YYC.
If you've read my Cockscomb Mountain trip report, you should not be surprised that it's been weeks since my last summit! I jest. Although my mountain mojo was a bit depleted in June / July, this isn't the real reason I haven't summitted a mountain in the last 7 weeks.
Cockscomb Mountain has a few things going for it. No matter how many peaks you've done, as long as it's more than one, you will have a best one and a worst one. I never have to worry about encountering my worst one now - I've apparently just done it. Another thing in Cockscomb's favor is that I will never ever, ever, ever have to repeat it.
A fantastic backpacking trip with river crossings, bushwhacking, snowshoeing, sleeping on snow and incredible views of huge peaks including Mount Columbia and Bryce. I think that deserves a trip report even if it didn't result in a 'real' summit. I am 100% comfortable with claiming the grid reference we summitted near camp, considering how much sweat-effort it was to attain! ;)