After scrambling up Nigel Peak we headed for Wilcox Peak.The hike across the Wilcox Pass meadows was extremely pleasant with the fall colors in full force and the spectacular views towards the Columbia Icefields combined with a very warm, windless day. We spotted some massive mountain sheep along the way.
[Back down near the Wilcox Meadows trail, Wilcox rising at far right.]
[The Wilcox Pass area is known for it's Mountain Sheep.]
[Massively curled horns on this one.]
[Rod with Nigel's lower slopes at left.]
I had calculated that we had roughly another 600 meters of height gain to get back up Mount Wilcox after descending Nigel Peak all the way back to the meadows. Rod concluded quite quickly that 1800 meters of height gain the day before doing Mount Temple was probably not a good idea for him personally but that I should feel free to "go ahead"! So, leaving Rod to a nice snooze in the meadow I made my way slowly up towards Mount Wilcox.
[This is a very popular area, look at the massively worn trail! If you can, hike this area in September during the week. Mount Wilcox ahead at center.]
[Two more, large rams lolling in the warm sunshine - exactly what we felt like doing!]
[I continue on towards Wilcox solo.]
I was surprised, and a wee bit disappointed, by the massive trail snaking its way to the top of Mount Wilcox. It did make my life a bit easier, as I was feeling my legs by the time I got near the summit but it also made it seem a bit 'touristy'. I did meet a couple people on the way up and down but not too many on this fabulous day (probably because it wasn't the weekend). If you follow the trail and the cairns you will end up traversing most of the mountain on climbers right, until you get to the summit ridge where you will go over a few exposed moves - the only moderate scrambling you'll experience - before finding yourself on the summit with a killer view. A nice switch from Nigel Peak was that I could clearly see Mount Bryce from this angle, where I couldn't see it from Nigel, and therefore 'only' counted 22 11,000ers instead of 23. Bummer.
[Looking back at Nigel (L) from the start of Wilcox's SE ridge.]
[There are many viable paths up the lower part of the SE ridge on Wilcox. Sunwapta just peeking out on the far right.]
[A veritable highway to the summit on this popular peak.]
[Who cares how popular it is, when you have views like this!! Nigel on the left.]
The funny part about Wilcox is that the views are actually a bit better from the lower, south summit area, and even from about half way up than they are from the apex. Once you're on the summit, part of the mountain itself blocks your view towards the lower ice fields near the tongue of the Athabasca Glacier. Of course the views of North Twin, Twins Tower, Woolley, Diadem and Alberta are awesome from the summit!
[The terrain gets a bit more 'moderate' from the lower shoulder to the summit.]
[Incredible exposure and views off the SE shoulder looking down at the Athabasca Glacier and Mount Andromeda (L) and Bryce (R).]
[Continuing on looser terrain to the summit - still traversing under the SE ridge proper.]
[Summit views of Nigel Peak - we were just up there a few hours ago.]
[Great views of Engelhard, Alberta, Woolley and Diadem (L to R).]
[A wider view north over hwy #93 and the northern Columbia Icefields area.]
[I climbed North Twin, Twin's Tower, Stutfield and Stutfield NE (L to R) in 2012.]
[Mount Kitchener (C) and Snow Dome (L).]
[Incredible views over Wilcox Meadows with Nigel Peak on the left and Hilda, Boundary and Athabasca on the right. ++]
[Looking over Wilcox Pass towards Sunwapta (L).]
[North Twin and Twin's Tower are among the highest peaks in Alberta and the Canadian Rockies at just over 12,000 feet and just under respectively.]
[The mighty Mount Bryce looms over the Athabasca Glacier headwall in the foreground.]
[Mount Athabasca is one of the most popular 11,000ers with routes all over the mountain including 4 or 5 routes up the north face.]
[Mount Andromeda also has many routes including some brutally tough ones like "Andromeda Stain" up a visible coulior of snow, ice and rotten rock to the left of the summit. Androlumbia shows up just to the right.]
[Sunwapta is just under 11,000 feet.]
[Many folks have measured Mount Saskatchewan at just under the magical 11,000 foot mark - but many have also measured it just over. Could this be another addition? Who knows?.]
[Mount Wilson (L) is a beast of a mountain and Mount Murchison to the right of it is the newest member of the exclusive 11,000er club, being measured right at the mark by multiple mountaineers.]
[Tangle Ridge to the north, with the radio equipment visible on the summit.]
[Tangle Ridge (L) and Sunwapta (R) from the summit of Wilcox Peak.]
On my way down the mountain I ran into Rod on his way up. He got bored and started hiking to meet me, lucky for him he was at one of the best view points (about half way up the ridge) when I met him so he didn't have to go any further. After some photos and a moderately long break we headed back down through the gorgeous Wilcox Pass meadows and back to the parking lot.
[Looking at a moderate scrambling section of the upper ridge on Wilcox as I descend.]
[Views from several points along the SE ridge of Wilcox are better than from the summit. The view includes Athabasca, Andromeda, Sunwapta Lake, Athabasca Glacier, Bryce and Snow Dome (L to R).]
[Great late afternoon views along our exit via the Wilcox Meadows.]
[The creek water tasted so good after a full day of scrambling in the sun!]
[Rod descends back to hwy #93 with impressive scenery all around him.]
[More scenery around Wilcox Meadow.]
[Last views of Athabasca as we drop down the meadow with the shadows growing long but the sun still very warm and pleasant.
Our round trip time including all breaks and both summits was around 9.5 hours. I would highly recommend saving yourself 6 hours of driving to bag a 'small' peak like Mount Wilcox and combine it with Nigel Peak, providing you are up to a day of 1800 meters in elevation gain and probably 12-15km of distance.