On Saturday, June 8 2013 I was joined by Wietse, Steven, Ben, Mike, Andrea and Raf for a group ascent of little-known and little-ascended Mount Erickson in the Crowsnest Pass. Ironically enough, it was probably the busiest single day ever on the mountain! After going 7 years since 2006 with only 3 ascent parties signing the register, we added all our names plus met Dave Salahub on the summit, doing a solo ascent. And he thought he was going to be all alone... ;)
The day started out very nice. We followed So's TR to find the trailhead, but still managed some confusion when the exact location of the BC border was in doubt. For reference, start measuring distance at the "Welcome to Alberta" sign - the one on the left side of the highway when coming from AB. I would park at the first pull out on the left. NOTE: It's NOT the pullout that is almost a little road curving back along the highway, both left-side pullouts are literally just that - small gravel pullouts. The 'correct' one should have a small wooden cross in the opposite (right hand) ditch. This cross will help you find the best approach to the ridge.
[This photo was taken on descent from the pullout. The 2nd pullout is after this concrete barrier, the cross is in the ditch under the wires, right near the person in the red cap. The bottom route follows an old road paralleling the highway and then going up to climber's right.]
We started the day fairly late, at around 10:00 but in June we had plenty of day light. Steven, Ben and Mike had all hiked Saskatoon Mountain already that morning and then waited for Wietse, Raf, Andrea and I to join them for Erickson. I was sort of in a slow mood this particular day, but others were gunning for a 3rd peak after this one (Edmontonians have to bag a lot of peaks in one day since they drive so far). The pace was quite quick as we worked our way up to the ridge.
I managed to separate from the group but the route was obvious. Wild flowers were a distraction for me on the ascent. :) If you're an experienced scrambler you should have no route issues - basically head up and slowly trend climber's left until finally hitting the ridge crest. Follow the treed ridge on scattered sheep trails on the east edge for the easiest and least bushy route. There was more bush than I was expecting but it was pleasant and open forest without any deadfall.
[I told you that flowers were a distraction for me! Ladies Slipper is one of my favorites.]
[The forest is open and very pleasant.]
[You can see a 'bump' on climber's left which isn't really worth going for. You can go up the gully but again - not really worth it.]
[I managed to find a nice meadow with tons of flowers - these are Balsam Roots]
[Another one of my favorites - Spotted Saxifrage]
[I love these too - I didn't realize they bloom so early. This is the 3-flowered Aven.]
[Getting higher on the ridge we finally get some views south]
Once we hit the ridge proper it was best to stick to the east edge on smatterings of sheep trails. There was some height loss on this ridge. Any snow patches were avoided easily and soon we were looking up at a strange rocket-launcher type tower high above on the ridge. We could also see a solo scrambler making their way up the rubble slope to it. We started up the slope - this was the steepest and loosest slope we were on all day but still only easy scrambling. There were a ton of fossils here too.
The tower had a chopper landing pad right next to it and the summit was a short distance away, connected by a fun and easy ridge. Views from the top were awesome in all directions, even though the clouds were thickening a bit. To my great surprise the solo scrambler turned out to be Dave Salahub and we had a good laugh at the odds of meeting on such an obscure peak! Wietse and Steven celebrated their 200th summits on Erickson before we all started to head down. Descent was fast and easy.
[Carpets of Glacier Lillies in the forest]
[Staying to the east side of the ridge worked well and avoided any thicker bush on the ridge proper (but not too much left).]
[An open rubble slope, again we stuck to climber's left]
[You know you're in Crowsnest Pass when you start passing old, dead trees on open, wind hammered ridges!]
[Looking back to the south before dropping down on the ridge.]
[You can see the drop on the ridge and the tower in the distance.]
[More dead trees and ridge scenery]
[Looking ahead, north and west along the ridge to the false summit and radio tower. Click for full size - note the huge mining operation.]
[Wietse and Raf start up towards the tower as I look back south along our ascent ridge.]
[Steven and Ben at the helicopter landing pad beside the 'rocket launcher' tower.]
[Telephoto from the chopper pad of Andrea and Mike at the summit of Mount Erickson.]
[Looking back at the tower as I traverse to the summit.]
[Crowsnest Mountain and Tecumseh and Phillips from the summit.]
[The large group at the summit of Mount Erickson.]
[Telephoto of Crowsnest.]
[Looking over to Sentry Mountain and McLaren, Parrish and Chinook Peaks.]
[Tele shot of Tecumseh.]
[Looking southwest towards the Three Sisters near the town of Fernie.]
[Looking over the massive Sparwood Mine towards the impressive form of Mount Washburn.]
[Looking towards Mount Harrison.]
[Vern on the summit of Mount Erickson.]
[The summit register was quite empty and 7 years old. I was surprised that we were only the 4th ascent party to sign it in 7 years.]
[This was Wietse and Steven's 200th summit. The only difference is that Wietse took 10 years and Steven took 10 months... :)]
[Summit panorama. ++]
[Andrea descends the ridge from the summit.]
[Descent was easy - but the clouds moved in and we got a very slight sprinkle of rain.]
[Steven freaking Song - the mountain peak bagger extraordinaire!! :)]
[Ben the flower photographer!]
[They were nice though!]
[Ben descends to the highway.]
Overall I can highly recommend Mount Erickson as a worthwhile objective, especially when there's snow elsewhere. Route finding is fairly straightforward and the views are pretty good, even considering the mine and the logging operations in the area. You won't feel too isolated with the noise from mining, the highway and trains but there's not too many names in the register either, especially considering the easy access and ascent route.