On Saturday, May 15 I was joined by Wietse and Sonny on a bit of an exploratory trip in the Livingstone range in Kananaskis Country. We drove up an old logging road (start @N 50 5.522, W 114 25.942) with the intent of parking somewhere between Sheep Mountain and Horseshoe Ridge and bagging both summits from the parking area at the pass.
After negotiating a pretty rough road for several kilometers we came to a fork. If only we would have consulted the map in my pocket at this point the day may have looked a lot different (and a lot shorter!). We tried the right branch but had to reverse due to a boggy section. At this point we decided to park and walk the rest of the way. We figured we'd already saved 2 hours of walking so it wouldn't hurt to stop. (Parked @N 50 4.494, W 114 23.889)
[An obvious track heads into the trees.]
We started up the tracks and up the west slopes of what we thought was Sheep Mountain. As we climbed higher we started asking questions based on the surrounding terrain. If this was Sheep than where was Coffin and Livingstone? As we gained the south ridge crest we realized our mistake. We were on Coffin Peak! (Or Mount Speke if you believe Bivouac.com) OOOPS. We hadn't driven nearly as far as we thought! We still had 300 meters of elevation to gain Speke's summit but we figured it was worth it since we didn't think Sonny had done this mountain yet (he was behind us and we didn't tell him yet that we were on the wrong mountain).
[Wietse is oblivious to the fact that we are looking at the west aspect of Coffin (Speke) - not Sheep!]
[Lots of scree / small boulder fields up the west face of Coffin.]
[At this point we know we're on the 'wrong' mountain - Sheep is visible in the background here.]
[Wietse nears the summit of Coffin. ++]
When Sonny joined us at the summit he was very surprised that it was the 'wrong' one! But he wasn't too disappointed because it was his first time on this particular summit. Wietse and I are claiming our second time as 'Mount Speke' and our first one as 'Coffin Mountain'. That's good enough for two peaks right? They were via different routes so...
[Views west towards The Elevators with Cabin Ridge at right.]
[The Elevators with Beehive Mountain to the right.]
[Summit of Mount Speke.]
Of course we couldn't let a tramp up the wrong mountain ruin our original plans for Sheep and Horseshoe so we continued to Sheep down the east slopes of Speke just beneath the summit. They look steeper than they are from the summit and soon we were grunting up another 200+ meters to the summit of Sheep Mountain.
[Tornado Mountain is impressive.]
[Looking up Sheep Mountain from the Coffin / Sheep col.]
[Looking back at our descent route from Coffin.]
[Summit of Sheep with Coffin at left.]
[Panorama from the summit of Sheep including (L to R), Coffin (Speke), Livingstone and Saddle. ++]
[Descending scree slopes towards Horseshoe Ridge.]
From the summit of Sheep we had a good view of our route over to Horseshoe Ridge. It looked kind of unappealing to be perfectly honest. There was a good deal of elevation change, lots of timber and lots of snow. But it didn't look totally stupid so we thought we'd give it a shot. Sonny wasn't sure it was worth it as he was feeling his first trip in a while but he gamely followed us onward! We probably shouldn't have bothered with Horseshoe...
[Sheep Mountain is an appropriate name...]
[A small pond in the meadows along Ridge Creek. ++]