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.
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.
8.5 hours after leaving the car along highway 93, Phil and I were finally done with Quill Peak and turning our collective attention towards a distant Conical Peak, rising through the smoky skies to the SE of our little perch at the edge of Quill's access glacier.
As Phil and I drove out of Canmore and towards Lake Louise, we debated about the weather and the smoke. Phil suggested that perhaps we should do Quill and Conical peaks instead of our original plan which was further north up the Icefields Parkway. These two had made the short list a few times already in 2017 but were always pushed off for one or another reason. (Note: this could be considered a four peak day as we also crossed over Porcupine and Porcupine NE2 on the way.)
Originally my plans were to get up very early on a holiday Monday morning and finally bag Mount Ogden in Yoho National Park. I wanted to leave early so I could beat some of the long weekend crazies driving back to YYC in the afternoon. I woke up at 04:30 and promptly shut down my alarm and rolled over. Apparently that wasn't happening!
A beautiful line of snow highlights the ridge to the summit cap of Spreading Peak, and it looks pretty easy from almost any angle. The issue - as with any peaks in this part of the Siffleur Wilderness - is access. There is no quick or easy way to access the gorgeous summits in this area. Or is there?
After a very successful and somewhat tiring 5 day trip with my daughter in which we traveled approximately 57km and over 4500m of height gain, I was ready to put my feet up for the remainder of my week off. Then Phil texted me...
https://verndewit.com/2017/07/25/lake-of-the-horns-loth/After a few intense days of backpacking and scrambling five summits, Kaycie and I were ready for a relaxing day by a gorgeous and remote backcountry lake. Lake of the Horns is situated in a deep bowl between Mount McPhail and Horned Mountain along the Great Divide in the southern Elk Range of the Canadian Rockies.
Doing both Watermelon Peak and Bobac Mountain as a day trip is like having a really, really good meal, but in several mind-altering bites instead of over several hours. Even though the longer meal is usually the preferred way to enjoy a palette explosion, sometimes you want to enjoy all the same flavors of a long, slow meal in a few compressed, heavenly bites. And that is exactly what we got on this trip.
I agree with Liam that it's important to break free of the lightweight, hustle bustle, go-as-fast-as-you-can mentality of our modern culture. That's what backpacking with my daughter next week is all about. That is not, however, what this particular trip was going to be all about. This trip was about overloading the senses with nature and wild landscapes in one long, compressed day while traveling as efficiently as possible.
When our plans for climbing Mount Lefroy fell through, Mike and I started looking at other options. After swearing that I was done with David Thompson Country for at least a few months, I found myself planning another trip to the area. Our plans for the Sunday and Monday were to scramble Mount Stelfox, spend Sunday night camping and then attempt to find a scramble route up Bright Star Peak, it's higher neighbor to the north.
There aren't many published scramble reports on Abraham Mountain, but the few that are published make it sound pretty arduous and exhausting. I couldn't for the life of me, figure out why. It measures less than 11km round trip with about 1600m of height gain. There is no long approach and no mention of heinous bushwhacking either. How can it be such an exhausting trip? Only one way to find out!
After staring at it while ascending 6 or 7 peaks in the Two O'Clock Creek area of David Thompson Country, I finally managed to ascend Elliott Peak solo, on Monday, June 19 2017. Mike Mitchell is absolutely correct when he labels this scramble as nothing more than a "hike on loose scree" - but it's his follow-up wording that maybe I should have paid a bit more attention to...
After coming so close to its summit the day before after a traverse from Tuff Puff, I knew I was coming back immediately to make a second attempt at Whirlpool Ridge's highest summit the very next day. I enjoyed a delightful (free) camp along hwy 11 the evening before, setting up my mid on the back of my truck for the first time, which worked out great.
While on our 15 hour, 2600m+ vertical day traversing from Mount Ernest Ross to Two O'Clock Ridge with Mike Mitchell, there were two other peaks dominating the landscape for most of the day. The first was Elliot Peak to the north, the second was Whirlpool Ridge to the south. I kept looking over at Whirlpool's north bowl which looked to have a very esthetic line going up snow gullies and chimneys to its summit.
After a longish outing on Mount Head a few days previous with a couple of smelly guys (no offense guys), I decided it was time for a nice hike in Waterton Lakes National Park with my wife for a change. She not only looks (a lot) nicer than those other guys, but she smells nicer too. Again - no offense guys.
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!