After taking some time away from summits after my busiest year yet in the Rockies, I felt it was time to stand on a (named) high point again. I was supposed to work Wednesday, December 23 but decided at the last minute that I didn't feel like it. :) The weather was cold enough to dissuade me from anything too aggressive plus I was going to be doing a solo trip so I had to choose something fairly conservative. The "something" ended up being Rummel Ridge via a different route than Nugara's snowshoeing book.
This trip is described very well by both Matt and Bob but I still managed to screw up a bit. I didn't realize Matt had updated his first trip report and didn't follow the obvious ski / shoe track nearly far enough up the drainage between The Tower and Mount Engadine. This resulted in some extra exercise, which I didn't mind but be forewarned that you want to go almost up to the valley leading between The Tower and Rummel Ridge before crossing the stream. I was following flagging and old tracks most of the way but the south side of the drainage sucks. Don't bother with it - even if you don't have tracks.
[It's frosty at the road already! Thankfully not a breath of wind.]
[I didn't realize how popular this area is with backcountry skiers or I might have tried it on skies. Next time.]
[Lower down the 'shoe track respectfully avoids the skiable terrain. This doesn't last.]
[You should not end up here! This is what happens if you cross to the south side of the creek too early.]
[It's pretty enough - but again, you should never see this unless you like wallowing in unconsolidated snow in thick brush. Then you should seek this out.]
[I wasn't the only one on the 'wrong' side of the creek. I followed faint tracks all the way back up to the main track.]
[Back on the main trail and I can move quickly uphill again.]
[Nice winter scenery]
[Engadine is still one of my favorite solo scrambles from Kane.]
[Mount Galatea is another classic scramble in the area and another favorite of mine. Wait a minute - why is everything a 'favorite'?!]
[It's tempting to think that The Tower can be scrambled from here. Maybe. Probably not.]
There was hardly a breath of wind at the top, but just enough to force me back into the trees after taking in the great views of so many familiar peaks. I stopped for a hot cup of coffee on the way down. Sitting there with only one lonely bird to keep me company, I reflected on how lucky I was to be enjoying such a cold, still and clear day high up in a random drainage of my beloved Rocky Mountains. There were no distractions and no sounds as I sipped my coffee and munched on a Tim Horton's breakfast sandwich - other than the little bird that didn't seem to mind my company. When my toes started to chill I reluctantly bid the bird a "Merry Christmas" and continued quickly down the trail back to my truck.
[Summit views include Little Galatea, French, Robertson, Sir Douglas, Burstall, Commonwealth, Birdwood, Fist, Smuts, Tent Ridge, Shark, Turner, Fortune, Nestor and of course many other peaks in the area. Spray Lake at lower right. ++]
[I love this B&W pano showing off Mount Smuts on the left along with Tent Ridge - two other popular destinations in the area. ++]
[One more glace towards Spray Lake before plunging back into the trees.]
[I avoided the crappy south side of the creek by following the main track back out. There is a clear delineation between old growth and fire zone here. The track must follow a fire break of some sort, which makes for a great, safe ski descent too.]
[These are the views you should have going up - this is me looking back on descent.]
[This was the only slight uphill on the way out along the fire break.]
[The creek that I crossed way too early - don't worry, it gets much easier to cross higher up.]
[I was envious of the ski tracks on descent... I'll be back!]
[The terrain is very safe here - perfect for high avy or solo outings on the planks.]
I will be back in this area with my skis - Rummel Ridge could easily be a ski objective which I didn't realize when I shoed it. There are many options for safe skiing up that drainage, although Tony Daffern does reference a fatality that occurred near here in his excellent book on Avalanche Safety so be aware that not all the slopes surrounding Rummel Ridge are as benign as the 'shoe track.