There was nothing to do after finally standing on top of Two O'Clock Peak but start our long descent towards Two O'Clock Ridge and the highway, far below and far in the distance still at this point. We were feeling pretty positive as we started down the summit ridge towards the obvious east descent ridge. It looked pretty darn easy and not too far. We should have known better!
[Note: This trip report is part of a loop traverse that started with Mount Ernest Ross and continued from there over four more unofficial summits including Bridge Peak, Landslide Peak, Two O'Clock Peak and Two O'Clock Ridge. Total distance for the day was around 25km and total height gain around 2600 meters. It took us a total of 15 hours to complete the traverse with some snow on route.]
As soon as we ducked under the summit ridge it became obvious that we weren't done with large boulders and rocky terrain just yet! My left knee wasn't too happy as we slowly stumbled and picked our way down to a smoother ridge crest off in the distance. Eventually we found another sheltered spot and I made my second cup of coffee for the day - something to give me enough kick to finish this thing! It was almost 19:00 by the time we stopped - almost 12 hours had gone by already and we had a long way to go yet. There was at least 4 large elevation gains and losses by the time we made our final grunt to the summit of Two O'Clock Ridge at around 20:00.
[Looking up at Mike descending bouldery terrain on Two O'Clock Peak's SE ridge.]
[You can't move quickly through this stuff but it is scenic.]
[Looking down the SE rige to the summit of Two O'Clock Ridge. The east ridge just to the left of center blocks any easy shortcuts from the Landslide Traverse to Two O'Clock Ridge. Ernest Ross at center distance with Bridge and Elliot at left. ++]
[Mike emerges from shadows beneath me. Tuff Puff at center - the small bump of light colored scree.]
[Looking over at the impressive form of Whirlpool Ridge.]
[The shadows are racing ahead of us as the day grows late. Many intervening bumps between us and Two O'Clock Ridge.]
[Looking back up at Two O'Clock Peak from the first saddle with the first bump on return.]
[A distant view of Bridge Peak with Elliot rising beyond.]
[An interesting view towards Whirlpool Ridge from the Two O'Clock Ridge. Tuff Puff at left. ++]
[Mike can't believe how freaking far we've come and how many hours and meter of elevation we've already completed.]
[Looking back towards Whirlpool Ridge at left and Two O'Clock Peak at right of center. It's a long way and a lot of elevation between the Ridge and the Peak!]
[Looking over Tuff Puff up the Siffleur River Valley with Siffleur Mountain at right and peaks such as Cheshire, Heinrich, Erudite and Fuhrer in the distance.]
We didn't linger long at the last summit of the day, despite some great evening lighting towards Siffleur and Loudon. I popped an Advil and Mike popped his fourth vitamin I as we continued the long descent to the Two O'Clock Campground along highway 11, far below us. We kept sneaking glanced at Whirlpool Peak to the south of us - there seemed to be some routes that would go to the summit from around Tuff Puff. (Anyone who thinks that Two O'Clock Ridge shouldn't be a distinct summit should see Tuff Puff... ;))
From the summit of Two O'Clock Ridge, we followed a distinct trail down to treeline where the temperature finally got really warm for the first time since early that morning. Jackets came off and our pace quickened as the Advil kicked in and did it's job. I have to admit that the trail for Two O'Clock Ridge is further and less direct that I assumed it would be. Thankfully Mike had just done the peak 2 weeks previous as some of the junctions on descent weren't obvious which one was best. In general we had to work our way left and then around some ridges before going back to the right towards the campground near the bottom. We traversed a very interesting outcrop of rock, covered in a myriad of flowers before coming up on Two O'Clock Creek at around 22:00. The creek was going pretty quick and deep but I didn't even try to keep my feet dry, just charging right through it, which felt fantastic on my tender tootsies! Most of my toes were numb at this point anyway, considering the abuses of the past week or so.
[Descending from the summit of Two O'Clock Ridge towards hwy 11. Bridge and Elliot at left with Ernest Ross left of center. Ex Coelis at far right with William Booth at center distance. ++]
[Mike catches dying light with Ernest Ross above him at left.]
[Looking back up Two O'Clock Ridge. Landslide Peak at distant right.]
[Great views towards Siffleur, Peskett and Loudon.].
[The Ex Coelis Group.]
[Mount William Booth in the distance, with Mike once again catching up to the sunlight.]
[Our exit is at bottom center. It's a lot further than it looks though as first we will contour well to the left before coming back right lower down.]
[Looking up on descent - a good trail through the forested ridge but on occasion, too many trails!]
[Looking back from the descent towards the summit. Two O'Clock Creek at lower left.]
[Gorgeous evening lighting on Siffleur Mountain as a storm rolls towards us from the west.]
[The sun sets on the Ex Coelis Group which includes (L to R), Normandy, Stan Waters, Rhine, Ardennes and Elbe.]
[The trail has some nice open, meadowy sections.]
[More of the great lower trail.]
[Mike enjoys the great views across hwy 11 and the North Saskatchewan River up the Siffleur River Valley.]
[More open trail.]
[Steep, but open trail as we near the left-hand traverse.]
[Light is fading fast as I glance back up the lower trail.]
[One of my favorite Rockies flowers.]
[Great late evening lighting as we finish the left traverse and start heading south on a cool escarpment towards the Two O'Clock Creek Campground. There were tons of wildflowers here. ++]
[Neat, orange colored rock on the escarpment with the Ex Coelis Group at left.]
[A short section of blowdown on the trail as we exit the escarpment.]
As a storm threatened to roll in from the west, we strode first through some gentle stands of trees and then through a busy and cheerful campground and headed down the highway, back towards our vehicles. One last little bit of excitement came in the form of two black bears in the ditch beside us, that ran off when I told them to. Good bears. Doing what they're told. :) We were feeling pretty tired when we walked up to the cars exactly 15 hours and 2 minutes after leaving them as darkness settled in at 22:30.
[Mike practices his moves over the blowdown.]
[Another of my favorite flowers - the Three-flowered Mount Aven.]
[There were huge bunches of these Avens all over the place near the escarpment.]
[Descending to the valley, leading to the campground just visible at far left.]
[Two O'Clock Creek was pretty rowdy even at 10pm!]
[Winding our way through light forests with birds chirping and threatening skies to the west.]
[Looking back up hwy 11 towards Siffleur Mountain and the storm that thankfully bypassed us.]
Overall I was pretty happy with this high level traverse. Views were unique to me as I haven't done a ton of peaks in David Thompson Country (although I've already done the highest). It was a bloody long day though. Driving home was extremely tiring - I stopped for several power naps. As a day trip from YYC it was a 24 hour ordeal. I stumbled through my front door at around 03:00 for one of the longest day trips I've ever done. Thanks Mike for suggesting it and thanks Eric for doing it first! Crazy Edmontonians...