I was looking forward to a solo trip after a few busy family weekends in March 2010. On the 27th I got my chance and I grabbed it. Since the avalanche rating was high and the snow conditions complex, I abandoned my plan for a ski trip and turned to some different hiking options instead. With new snow in the front ranges west of Calgary I realized that I would be driving south for my solitude.
At first I was thinking of driving to Crowsnest Pass and hiking two small peaks in the area, Tallon and Robertson. I knew from Wietse that these were a short day and the drive down highway #22 is always a nice way to relax. At the last minute I thought of Plateau Mountain instead, since the drive is so much shorter. I would try the Northeast ascent slopes that the Nugara's had done before. Driving down RR 532 I kept thinking that maybe it wasn't the smartest idea to be driving here in my Corolla all by myself. The road is rough and the further I went the more warning signs I encountered about the road not being maintained and not suitable for travel unless I was in a huge 4x4 truck with chains on the tires. I kept going.
Once I arrived at the junction I realized something else. I didn't know where the heck Plateau Mountain was!! Ooops! :-) I should have brought either the guide book or a map with me but somehow I assumed it would be obvious. It wasn't. It was also incredibly windy and I decided to cut my losses and drive down to the Crowsnest Pass to try Tallon and Robertson instead - I had a better idea where those two mountains were!
After turning on RR30 I drove until the road took a hard left. I drove a bit further and took the first driveway / road that branched off RR30 - I think it's 75B or something like that. On hindsight I could have parked at the end of this road and hiked into the two peaks but I didn't recognize the area from Wietse's pictures (I was looking for the "3 bears") so I turned back and drove back down RR30. The right road is 75A and is just before the sharp left hand turn. I didn't feel welcome as I drove up this road. Signs warning of prosecution and death by firing squad lined the road. The further I drove the more unwelcome I felt but I knew Bob Spirko and Wietse had both gone this way so I ignored the signage and parked near the 3 bears, just before the end of the road (it ends at a large house).
[Looking up the slope from near my car.]
[Looking back as I gain some height.]
I decided to tackle Robertson first since it was further, higher and had more snow than Tallon. Both looked to be very close and not very high. I still felt like I was trespassing as I tramped through a horse pasture and up the hill but nobody was shooting at me so I kept going. The weather was beautiful, except for the wind which is always strong in this area. It felt really good to be hiking again and I quickly gained height up the grassy slopes. I cut around the middle bump between the two peaks on climber's right. This was a bit of a mistake since all the snow was piled up on that side! I was in crotch deep snow for a short section. I should have gone right up the bump. Oh well.
[Looking over at Tallon Peak as I gain a bench on Robertson.]
[Lots of wildlife in here!]
[Looking at the Old Man Reservoir.]
[Looking ahead to Robertson. I sank to my waist while traversing this snow patch!]
Robertson was an easy hike from the col and soon I was looking up the Livingstone Range. Great views of the prairies also greeted me to the east. It was so windy on the summit that my backpack came very close to blowing off! This would have been very inconvenient since my car keys were in the lid...
[Vern on the summit of Robertson.]
[Panorama on the way up Robertson - Tallon on the right. ++]
[Panorama from the summit of Robertson Peak. ++]
[Crowsnest Mountain and the Seven Sisters.]
[Summit cairn on Robertson looking North.]
[Looking ahead (south) to Tallon Peak.]
I turned my attention to Tallon Peak.