Quartz Hill has been on my radar ever since I first skied the Sunshine Meadows way back in 2007 with a large group trip up Twin Cairns. Well, almost exactly a decade later and I was back for my first real attempt. I briefly considered scrambling up the ridge while backpacking along the NE face of it on my way towards Howard Douglas Lake and Citadel Pass back in the fall of 2016.
After a great ascent of Kink Peak, we found ourselves looking up at the ~250 vertical meter ascent to Fallen Peak, trying to pick the best line. We decided to stick right on the ridge as long as possible since it was almost snow-free. This plan worked even better than expected.
I wasn't totally feeling it when Dr. Phil contacted me regarding a possible scramble for the Remembrance Day weekend, 2017. The weather looked pretty good for a front range peak and even promised light winds for once, so eventually he wore me down with his incessant texting and I agreed to slog up something just to make him happy.
Saturday, October 28 was shaping up to be very pleasant. Serendipity with a traverse to Patterson's Peak has been on my radar for many years and seemed like a perfect late season trip. I tried recruiting my usual trip partners but in the end this ended up being a solo venture. I didn't mind. It was a fitting way to end my scrambling season and I was in the mood for some solitude.
With the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend and some unexpected days off work beforehand, I was looking to take advantage of a pretty nice wx with a scramble or two before the snow starts to pile up in earnest around the Rockies. Lucky for me, I received an invite from Cornelius and Trevor inviting me for a jaunt up the relatively obscure front range mountain, "Castle Rock".
When Phil and I set out to scramble Pipestone Mountain, near the Red Deer Lakes and Drummond Icefield on the eastern edge of the Skoki area in Banff National Park, we had no idea how confusing finding and naming the darn summit would be! In the end we had to settle on a rather odd arrangement that I'm sure will not satisfy everyone but made sense to us.
After approaching and ascending Cyclone Mountain the day before, Phil and I woke up to a frosty but clear morning on Friday, September 29 2017. Our destinations for this glorious fall day were Pipestone Mountain and Merlin Lake. These two things are not very close together, in case you were wondering.
On Wednesday, September 27 2017 I was joined by Trevor Boyce for an easy hike and traverse of Odlum Ridge, deep in Kananaskis Country just east of the Continental Divide and south of Highwood Pass. Our plan was to take advantage of the great weather with views of larches and aesthetic mountains in the background. We were not disappointed!
After a delightful easy / moderate scramble up Mount Howard Douglas, it was time to add a second peak to my day. Why? Don't ask. I guess I'm still a peakbagger at heart because there's really no reason to grind up Eagle Mountain other than to claim another summit. In my case I also got better views.
After completing the long approach trek up Healy and Whistling Passes and the subsequent ascent of Lesser Pharaoh Peak (don't forget about "Tiny" Pharaoh), Phil and I grunted our way back towards the diminutive and unofficial Sugarloaf Mountain. I haven't been able to find out where "Sugarloaf" comes from, but it's on enough references to be official enough for me to bag and claim it.
With larch season comes great responsibility for the Rockies hiker, scrambler and photographer. The responsibility comes from having two weeks to take advantage of the very limited and short-lived phenomenon of what's commonly called, <dramatic music>Larch Season</dramatic music>. This season is sacred with those of us lucky enough to have felt its magic touch. For two weeks in September we are overcome with gold fever.
There are a few trip reports available online for Lougheed I, but for obvious reasons there are many more for the much easier and official summit of Lougheed II (usually with a no-brainer traverse to III). The trip reports I could find are all part of a traverse from peak I to II, either as a scramble or an alpine climb.
On Saturday, September 02, 2017 I completed one of the most dangerous mountain ascents I've done, and was only the 8th recorded ascent of a peak that is very distinct and recognizable and highly visible from a major highway corridor (#93) and yet, not very well known in the scrambling community. I was joined on this dubious adventure by Wietse and Phil.
Ben and I finally completed our Sisyphean Odyssey to the summit of Mount King Edward on a beautifully clear and calm late summer day on August 28, 2017. After three attempts, driving a total of 36 hours, hiking 105km and climbing over 6,500m of elevation, it was supremely rewarding to finally take in the stunning summit panorama on this mountain.
After cancelling plans for a trip up the Icefields Parkway due to a last minute weather change, Phil Richards and I were at a bit of a loss what to replace it with. We were wary about forest fire smoke as the views from Lyautey are pretty stellar. Staying home seemed like a cop-out so we settled on a 07:00 departure time from the Interlakes parking lot instead.