On Saturday, June 18 2011 Wietse, Kevin (Papke) and I stole a day on Mosquito Mountain along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. The weather forecast was dreary but we all really wanted to get out and stand on a summit. I'd been planning a fall trip up Mosquito for a few years already, but since So posted a TR from early June on this summit I thought "why not do it now" and so we made plans.
The day started out great with some sun and cloud and a nice hike to the Mosquito Creek back country campground. I was surprised at the luxury of this camp, complete with biffy, fire pit and great shelter and access to a clear, rushing creek. Considering it's only 5km from the road and relatively flat I am going to take my family in here some weekend. There are grizzlies in the area, as evidenced by some pretty large prints but our yelling kept them from sight.
[A beautiful morning as we cross the road to begin our hike up Mosquito Creek.]
[Walking along the creek with Mosquito Mountain looming in the distance, Ramp Mountain to the left.]
[Grizzly was here...]
[At the campground, a great viewpoint from the eating area.]
We didn't bother continuing on the trail from the campground, but rather followed So's descent option and bushwhacked on the north side of the creek right from camp. You really can't go wrong here, just work your way up and to climber's left and you will hit the ridge. From here you follow the ridge to the summit.
[Looking back down Mosquito Creek as we bushwhack up the ridge.]
[On the ridge, above treeline looking up at the summit. Still over 700 meters of height gain from this point.]
The snow on the upper mountain really slowed us down, and the moderate crux felt 'difficult' because of the conditions (loose, crappy wet rock) but the views were awesome even with the low cloud cover. Near the summit we endured a short blizzard but then the views opened up a bit again. We never did see Willingdon, but the views into the Pipestone Pass area were tantelizing. I really want to explore that valley and scramble a bunch of peaks around there soon. I've had a trip planned into the area for the past 5 years and it just hasn't worked out yet. Maybe this year...
[Looking up at the summit (left) and across the peaks to the south. ++]
[Looking back at Kev coming up the ridge.]
[Quartz and Ramp Mountains as seen from the ascent ridge of Mosquito]
[Kev descends the tricky crux on the ridge. To avoid it meant crossing a snow slope so we didn't bother.]
[Now it's Wietse's turn on the crux.]
[Kev and Wietse follow me up to the summit. The snow was isothermal and made for exhausting travel. The weather was also deteriorating rapidly at this point. As was my desire to bag the peak! ;-)]
[Kev took over the lead for a bit. The weather is not improving at this point!]
[The summit register is very interesting and old (1979).]
[There was a lot of references to "skyline" which I found interesting (isn't that another hike in Jasper?!) and usually had a number like '#5' or '#3' attached...]
[The register container was retro. So is Kev... ;-)]
[Summit panorama looking south and west - the weather cleared for a bit at the top - thank goodness! ++]
[Panorama looking into the Pipestone area. Willingdon is hidden in cloud. ++]
The walk back to the trailhead was wet (it started drizzling) but pleasant enough. Our round trip time of 7 hours wasn't too bad considering the conditions.
[Can you spot the summit of Mount Hector?]
[Kev re-ascending the crux. It's much easier going up!]
[Wietse ascends a bump on the ridge on the way back. ++]
[I have no idea what flower / shrub this is but it's pretty cool!]