Every time I drove home from the mountains along the Trans Canada highway, I wondered how easy this little bump would be to ascend. It's certainly prominent enough to warrant a name, but it doesn't have an official one as far as I know. Sonny and Raf are two friends who have done it. Raf assured me that it would be a nice short day - something I could do with my family.
On Saturday, May 30 2015 the weather forecast was kind of grim. I decided we should drive to Razors Edge and check it out. If the weather held long enough, we could try an ascent. The clouds were low as we drove out from Calgary. As luck would have it, I also developed a migraine headache on the drive! Hanneke drove to the trailhead and I decided that since this was such a small peak, I would attempt it with a migraine. After popping some medication we started from the trailhead just west of the Quaite Valley trailhead in the ditch next to the busy Trans Canada highway. This is NOT the same trailhead as Heart Mountain, it's further east than that. (See the map on BikePirate.com.)
On hindsight, we should have just parked at the Quaite Valley trailhead and walked up that trail (blue line on the map), but oh well - this way we made the trip almost 10km. We followed a ribboned trail to the Quaite Valley trail and then bushwhacked up to the lower ridge, but a better route is to park at the Quaite Valley trailhead and walk about 200m up the trail, look for ribbons on your left or simply watch where the obvious ridge on your left is at a low point and bushwhack towards it (blue line on the map above).
[A nice hike before we get to the Quaite Valley trail]
[Flowers are everywhere on this hike]
Once on the ridge, we followed a faint trail up the edge and for the most part, out of the trees, leading up and avoiding the steep slabs on our left. These slabs are what make the ascent interesting and somewhat convoluted. In order to avoid them, the trail stays on the edge of the ridge for quite a while. If you're not on a trail, you should look around for ribbons or a track because you should have either one almost 100% of the time. The trail wasn't nearly as worn or defined as I expected for such a small peak near the busy Trans Canada. It's much less defined than the nearby Heart Mountain trails. Eventually we reached a place where we could go up to climber's left around the rocky slabs. From here we went up steep dirt / scree until getting to a bushier section near a shallow col before the final summit bump. One the return we found a flagged trail but on ascent we simply bushwhacked. The trail has so much flagging it's comical. You'll know if you're on it!
[On the ridge, note the faint trail]
[I've never seen the pines like this before!]
[Some decent views on ascent if you can ignore the industrial plant in the background... ;)]
[Now we're grinding straight up]
[My favorite type of wildflower - the Shooting Star]
[Bushwhacking to the summit - the trail is to our left but we missed it]
[Brightly colored mushrooms]
[View from near the summit - higher than Exshaw Mountain at least! ++]
[Looking down the ridge from near the summit]
[Looking north over the Trans Canada highway at the Goat Traverse which includes Door Jamb, Loder and Goat Mountain (L) and Yamnuska (C)]
[Summit view looking west and north. Heart Mountain on the L. ++]
[McConnell Ridge (aka Barrier Lake Lookout)]
[Telephoto of the busy concrete plant operations that keep the housing market in Calgary going]
[One last shot off the summit, showing the biffy near the top - there are also anchors which used to hold a fire lookout here. ++]
[The Trans Canada highway does a tight turn around Razors Edge - often resulting in accidents in the winter]
[Tons of ribbons mark a trail through the tight forest near the top towards the lower ridge]
[The trail slicks up pretty fast when wet]
Considering the dismal weather and the nearby concrete plant, the views weren't half bad. For a short outing this is a decent objective. Don't expect it to be too easy though - I'd rate it as easy scrambling with some route finding.