After spending 2 weeks on a family vacation in Kelowna (and I mean my wife's whole family and their offspring - around 30 people!) I was ready for the serenity of a rarely climbed peak. Tuesday, August 14 2007 proved to be the perfect day for a mid-week scramble up Mount Warspite. Wietse and I had been planning a jaunt up Mount Hector with an experienced local climber named Scott Berry. For some reason I felt very strongly that we would be unsuccessful on this venture and besides I've wanted to ski Mount Hector for a while already - not slog up it in summer. (Good idea - I skied it in 2009 with TJ and enjoyed that experience immensely!) On the morning of our departure I still insisted that we should change our objective if we wanted to successfully attain a summit.
After some deliberation, Scott suggested Mount Warspite. I've been interested in this peak for a while already and since it offered the chance for a two peak day (combined with Mount Invincible) I thought it was a perfect backup choice. Wietse was disappointed in the change of plans but since he was out voted he decided to play nice and agree to the change. Such a nice guy eh? :-)
[A young grizzly crosses the road at the junction of highway 40 and Kananaskis trail.]
Some mountains actually have a more memorable approach trail than the actual scrambling or climbing, and according to me, Mount Warspite is one of these peaks. The hike up to tree line and to the base of the scree ramp is simply gorgeous. Even if you don't desire to scramble up to the peak, you owe it to yourself to check out the sublime alpine valley above the lower lake and below the upper one, commonly known as the Black Prince Tarn area. Also making the morning hike magical was the low cloud cover over surrounding peaks.
[Passing a very low tarn along Warspite Creek (Warspite Lake) and nervous that the low clouds might not burn off for our summit.]
[Lovely hiking through lower meadows.]
[As we get higher we start hiking above the low cloud. This is looking back at a local outlier.]
[The morning clouds have completely burned off now as we enter the upper bowl under Warspite, which is directly ahead of us here.]
[Wietse and Scott grunt up the horrible scree on the way to the Warspite / Black Prince col.]
The scrambling bits on Mount Warspite are nothing to look forward to. Like many other Rockies scramble routes, it's mainly a scree bash with very little hands-on scrambling. I tried to stick to snow on the approach ramp to the col between Black Prince and Warspite and this was a good choice, I think. I would recommend climbing this mountain when there's a bit more snow - it would be much more enjoyable but possibly a bit more advanced if the snow was hard (crampons) or too loose (avalanches). As a matter of fact, we all thought that Warspite did not deserve a 'difficult' rating when dry. Maybe Kane did this peak with snow on it but other than really loose rock, it's upper 'moderate' at most.
[Sublime views north from the col, over our approach route from lower right and towards Black Prince on the left.]
[Even more sublime views wait to the south over Invincible Lake and Hermione Ridge.]
[Wietse grunts his way up to the col.]
[Great views of the Royal Group including King George, Prince Albert and Prince Henry (L to R).]
[Mount Sir Douglas rises above the Haig Glacier with Monro on the left and Jellico on the right.]
[A wider shot of the Haig Icefield area with Mount Black Prince in the fg and the Black Prince Tarns at lower right.]
[Vern on the summit of Mount Warspite.]
[Amazing views down Invincible Creek with Nomad and Invincible Lake just right of center. Upper Kananaskis Lake in the distance and Indefatigable, Fox,The Turret, Rawson Ridge, Sarrail, Marlborough, Joffre, Lyautey and Hermione in the distance, L to R.]
[Invincible Lake with Nomad to the left and Marlborough, Joffre and Lyautey rising impressively above in the bg.]
[Views to the north and west over and down the Spray Lakes road don't disappoint either! From R to L peaks include the Opal Range in the far distance (Hood, Evan Thomas). Along the road is Kent, Kent Ridge, Inflexible, James Walker, Chester, Gusty, Galatea and The Tower.]
[King George is very impressive from this angle.]
[Mount Joffre is a lovely 11,000er. And a very easy one!]
[There is a route straight up the snow / ice gully on Sir Douglas' SE face and also a rock route up the right hand ridge.]
[Great color in the mountains along the Kananaskis Range including Kent Ridge and James Walker. ++]
[Another view of the Royal Group.]
So why do you want to scramble this pile of loose choss? Because the approach hike is awesome and the views from the top are simply stunning. From Joffre in the south to Sir Douglas to the west the view includes the impressive Royal Group and many of the Kananaskis Lakes and Spray Lakes mountains.
It turns out that our decision to abandon an attempt on Hector was a good one. When Scott and I suggested the traverse over to Invincible, Wietse admitted he had a nasty stomach ache and we had to abort the traverse. We will be back to do it some day, because in all honesty that looked like the most entertaining part of the day. It also looked very doable to attach Invincible from the mining road that Kane mentions, as a day trip on its own. I'll let you know how that one goes when I get around to it.
[The traverse over to Invincible (3rd peak along the ridge) looks fun!]
[Wietse and Scott start down from the summit.]
On the way down we spent over an hour just lounging around, listening to Scott's infamous Bow Hut approach avalanche tale (you'll have to ask him - it's an amazing story of survival) and soaking up the afternoon sunshine and smell of wild flowers. I have never seen so many flowers on a hike before, so if you're into flowers don't forget that macro lens, like I did. I'll be back some day with that lens!
[Scott takes in the wonderful views of the Nomad / Invincible Lake area from a view point on the way down to the col. ++]
[Down climbing to the col.]
[The trickiest section directly above the col isn't that tricky. :)]
[Wietse finishes up the ridge descent to the Black Prince col.]
[Warspite from the col.]
[Looking over the approach meadows to the Black Prince upper tarn and Black Prince rising to the left.]
[Gorgeous wild flower meadows beneath the col.]
[Looking back at Warspite from the lovely hanging valley.]
[Warspite Cascade falls.]
[Dropping down into the lower valley.]
[A very pleasant day to be hiking the Black Prince area.]
[Warspite Lake on return.]