To make up for my partial failure on the Cautley Traverse, I decided to go for the summit of The Towers. I hiked up a shallow draw immediately north of Wonder Peak, towards Wonder Pass and was soon scouting the lower route up The Towers. Something I didn't realize at first, was that the skyline east ridge is not the scramble route.
After being turned around on a traverse from Mount Cautley to Gibraltar Rock and somehow completely screwing up where Cascade Rock was, I started the traverse south from the summit of Cautley, heading towards Ely's Dome and what I thought was the traverse from it, to Cascade Rock. Confused yet? Apparently, so was I...
I woke up on Sunday, September 25 2016 in the Lake Magog Campground and poked my head out of my tent only to be immediately disappointed. This was supposed to be the day of my long-awaited Mount Cautley Traverse - 4 new peaks in one stretch - all located along the same, fairly easy ridge and all with stunning views over the Mount Assiniboine area, including of course, the mighty Matterhorn of the Rockies.
Sunburst Peak has always interested me since first laying eyes on it in 2008, simply because it doesn't look nearly as easy as its reputation implies. There isn't a ton of trip reports available, but whatever is out there certainly doesn't make this objective sound very difficult - despite the appearance of impenetrable cliffs leading up to it's summit.
Ever since I first backpacked into the Mount Assiniboine area in early September 2008 from Mount Shark, I've wanted to go back in prime larch season - sometime in the last two weeks of September. In 2015 I thought I'd be going back and for some reason or another it didn't pan out. In 2016 I was absolutely determined to make the hike and scramble trip work out.
I wasn't sure if I had the energy or weather to do another scramble on Wednesday, September 21 but I had the day off and decided I might as well make the most of it. The week previous I'd summitted Park Mountain near MacArthur Lake in Lake O'Hara and noted the larches were especially stunning this year.
I've been interested in Southfork Mountain and the traverse to (or from) Barnaby Ridge for a while now since reading multiple trip reports on it over the years. It seemed to be the type of trip that is more effort than you expect - which describes a lot of the Castle Wilderness Area peaks and trips that I've done over the years.
As I watched the giant snow flakes fall gently and silently all around me and settle onto the yellow and red fall foliage before slowly starting to melt, I was struck by a thought that has hit me square between the eyes more than once while solo trekking on various trails and routes through the backcountry of my beloved Canadian Rockies. The beauty that I'd experienced on this long and tiring day - and many long and tiring days before it - was not there for my benefit. It was simply there.
The weather forecast for the Alberta Rockies wasn't looking great for the 2nd weekend in September 2016. Big surprise. Not! I had a choice to make, and it was harder than it should have been. Stay home and sleep in or drive 3+ hours to Waterton Lakes National Park where the forecast was quite positive.
I had the whole week of September 1-7 off, but ended up working a couple of days on Tues / Wed due to bad weather. By Thursday I was ready to resume my break. Steven, Ben and I had plans for Fri-Sun so I had an extra day to do something myself. Originally I had a peak in mind but after thinking about it I decided to hike into the Woolley / Diadem bivy area by myself on Thursday and spend an extra night just chilling and reading or taking photos at one of the best bivy sites in the Rockies.