On Saturday, April 19, 2014 a group of us took advantage of low avy hazards and warm spring temps to attempt the Pumpkin Traverse near the Lake Louise ski resort in Banff National Park. The Pumpkin Traverse usually involves ascending three summits, but due to conditions we didn't bother going for Unity Peak (I completed that one with Mike Mitchell in early 2016).
We started up the ski out in much warmer temps than we were expecting. The forecast had called for -8 but it was almost 0 already at 08:30! We made good time and were soon crossing the ski run above Temple Lodge. Lipalian and Purple can be done quickest and easiest via the Larch ski run up to Lipalian and then traverse to Purple and out via the Purple Bowl between Wolverine Ridge and Redoubt Mountain. Since Dave, Bill and Kev had all bagged Lipalian already, we decided to try ascending through the Purple Bowl instead, possibly skiing some of the gladed runs on Wolverine Ridge on descent.
Instead of heading up the main winter access to Boulder Pass across the ski run, we headed up the run about 100 meters or so and followed the summer access trail. About 5 minutes later we came across an obvious cut line trending up to climber's left, which we followed. At this point we were breaking trail in about 6" of fresh powder and grinning like idiots, thinking of our run back down already. ;)
[Kev breaks trail as we enter into the Purple Bowl.]
[Entering the valley between Wolverine Ridge (R) and Redoubt Mountain (L).]
The trail contoured the north end of Wolverine Ridge before entering the Purple Bowl. We stayed just to climber's right of the stream running out of the bowl and headed for an obvious ramp at the end of the valley. (There are many ways to access Purple Mound but we chose the safest and least steep one.) Once up the ramp we noticed 3 other skiers popping out of the col between Purple and Wolverine Ridge - they had ascended a more direct route from the ski area and were also headed up Purple. We gladly followed their steep ascent tracks to the summit mound.
[Looking back as we ascend the end of the valley. Wolverine Ridge on the L, Redoubt out of sight to the R. ++]
[The terrain above the ramp at the end of the valley is very pleasant for skiing and low avy risk. Purple is the high point at center.]
[Looking back at our ascent tracks with Unity on the right and Redoubt on the left. ++]
[Some steep rolls.]
[We follow the 3 others skiers up Purple Mound.]
[Bill, Wietse and Dave with Wolverine ridge just to the L and far beneath us now. Lake Louise ski runs on the L and Redoubt massive on the R. ++]
[Redoubt looks awesome! That was my finale in a 72 hour peak bagging extravaganza back in September 2005.]
[You can clearly see why it's called 'Purple Mound'!]
[Looking past the summit of Lipalian to Mount Temple.]
[Wietse, Raff and I did Armor Peak (L) on June 1 2013.]
[Anthozoan Ridge lies in front of Douglas and McBride.]
[If you look carefully you'll spot two of the three skiers doing the traverse in the bottom R of the photo. They're waiting for the guy with an airbag pack to traverse the slope to Unity (out of sight to the L) first... ;)]
[L to R, Dave, Kev, Wietse and Bill.]
[Vern on the summit of The Purple Mound.]
[Pano from Purple Mound includes Unity and Redoubt (L) and Lipalian (R) with Armor and Castle in the center. ++]
The views were amazing on this beautiful spring day! Unfortunately the snow pack was deteriorating in the warm temps. Wietse and I headed off to ski up Lipalian while Bill, Dave and Kev headed down to check out Wolverine Ridge and possibly ski it's north east glades to our ascent tracks. The three other skiers were headed down to attempt a traverse to the valley between Unity and Heather Ridge before heading to Skoki Lodge. They looked pretty small next to the huge snow slopes coming off of Purple / Unity! I can see why this traverse should only be attempted in very stable avy conditions.