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Chronological Explor8ions – The Blog

Lake of the Horns (LOTH)

After a few intense days of backpacking and scrambling five summits, Kaycie and I were ready for a relaxing day by a gorgeous and remote backcountry lake. So that’s exactly what we did. When doing research for our trip, I’d relied heavily on Matt Clay’s August, 2015 trip where he and Sandra backpacked into Weary Creek Gap before traversing up and over Mount Muir before being turned back at the Carnarvon Lake chains. I had changed things up, based on his experience, choosing to ascend, rather than descend the chains. Since our original plans called for a much longer trip, I was keen to extend ours by at least a day and came up with an intriguing option to spend a day and night camping at Lake of the Horns (LOTH) from our Weary Creek headwall bivy.

McPhail, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2883Elevation Gain (m): 740Round Trip Time (hr): 3Total Trip Distance (km): 4Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your pinkie fingerDifficulty Notes: No difficulties from Weary Creek Gap. The headwall to the gap / lake is harder than anything on this easy scramble as long as you stick to the easiest route. Note: I did this peak after traversing from Carnarvon Lake to Weary Creek over Mount Muir.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words Kaycie […]

Muir, Mount

After a nice, relaxing day spent ascending Mount Strachan before chilling at Carnarvon Lake, Kaycie and I woke up early on Monday morning to tackle Mount Muir and our highline traverse to Weary Creek Gap. The idea for this traverse came from a thread that Matt Clay started on ClubTread and from some further research into a longer backpack in the area known as the “Elk Highline”. The basic idea was to take full backpacks up and over Mount Muir and down towards Weary Creek Gap which would be our home for another night and possibly a base camp for an ascent of nearby Mount McPhail.

Strachan, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2682Elevation Gain (m): 600Round Trip Time (hr): 3.5Total Trip Distance (km): 4Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your pinkie fingerDifficulty Notes: No difficulties from Carnarvon Lake. The headwall to the lake is far harder than anything on this easy scramble.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: OT5; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words After a brutally long day the day previous, Kaycie and I awoke at our bivy on Carnarvon Lake ready for a much more relaxed day. Thanks to knocking off not […]

Shankland, Mount

After approaching Carnarvon Lake via Carnarvon Creek and setting up camp, KC and I completed the easy scramble up nearby Mount MacLaren. We made the decision to traverse under the false peak of MacLaren towards the first peak on the traverse to Mount Shankland. This worked well and soon we were standing at the col between the false summit of MacLaren and Shankland’s first false summit.

MacLaren, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2850Elevation Gain (m): 1150Round Trip Time (hr): 9Total Trip Distance (km): 11Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 : you fall, you sprain your wrist or break your armDifficulty Notes: The most difficult part is the chained section to Carnarvon Lake. After that the most difficult part is looking at the true summit from the false one. Note: Distance and elevation gain includes an ascent of Mount Shankland and is measured from Carnarvon Lake.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC5; YDS (3rd)Map: what3words After approaching the stunning […]

Carnarvon Lake (Kananaskis)

Elevation Gain (m): 700Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 22Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break your legDifficulty Notes: The crux just below the lake is a set of chains that ascends upper moderate to low difficult scrambling terrain. The combination of a big pack and the exposure could turn some hikers around.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)Map: what3words For our father / daughter backpacking trip in the summer of 2017, Kaycie and I eventually […]

Watermelon Peak

On Wed or Thu the usual flurry of emails went out regarding plans for the weekend. When the dust settled, Phil Richards and I were left choosing between two lengthy day trips. In the end, Watermelon Peak won out. Most people do Watermelon as part of an overnight bivy at Lake Alice, and while this is a wonderful way to experience this peak and this lovely area, we simply didn’t have the schedule to allow it this time. It was while we were poking around at the route and planning the trip that Phil wryly texted me – “you realize that Bobac is also in the area”.

Bobac Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 3088Elevation Gain (m): 1650Round Trip Time (hr): 14.5Total Trip Distance (km): 28Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break your leg or possibly dieDifficulty Notes: The south ridge route that we took involves difficult, loose scrambling with exposure. There are easier routes but they are longer and cannot be done safely with the amount of snow they had when we were there.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words After spending an amazing morning approaching and ascending Watermelon […]

The end of the slab with the loose crux just beyond and the summit now visible right of center.

McGillivray, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2454Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 13Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you are almost deadDifficulty Notes: Routefinding is key to keeping this scramble reasonable on approach. The final ridge to the summit is difficult, loose and exposed scrambling but pretty short.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words After enjoying a Kane difficult scramble on Divide Mountain with Liz and Mike on Friday, I choose to go solo on a Nugara difficult for Saturday, July 8 […]

There's no debating that the views from Divide Mountain are awesome. Bosworth at left and Niblock / Whyte at right.

Divide Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 2409Elevation Gain (m): 1200Round Trip Time (hr): 8Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you are almost deadDifficulty Notes: Named in 1998. The mountain is situated on the Continental Divide. Official name. (from peakfinder.com) NOTE: The height listed as 9400 feet is much too high for this peak which is closer to 7900 feet high.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)Map: what3words On Friday, July 7 2017 I finally managed to get out with a couple of […]

Bright Star Peak (Attempt)

After an easy day on Mount Stelfox, Mike Mitchell and I were pretty excited to find a scramble route up it’s higher northern neighbor – Bright Star Peak. As far as we knew there are no recorded scramble ascents of this peak – as a matter of fact, I don’t know of any online trip reports of anyone getting to the summit although I’m sure some folks have, over the years. As it turns out, there is good reasons for the lack of beta on this peak. We got up early at our bivy along Whitegoat Creek and by 05:00 we were on the familiar approach trail towards Whitegoat Pass. Why bother redoing this trail and not bivy higher? Simple. There’s no easily available water anywhere from Whitegoat Creek to the Pass, or even beyond.

Stelfox, Mount

When our plans for climbing Mount Lefroy fell through, Mike and I started looking at other options. After swearing that I was done with David Thompson Country for at least a few months, I found myself planning another trip to the area. Mike was still feeling ill on Saturday, so I solo scrambled Abraham Mountain – a delightful and unexpectedly short day out. Our plans for the Sunday and Monday were to scramble Mount Stelfox, spend Sunday night camping and then attempt to find a scramble route up Bright Star Peak, it’s higher neighbor to the north.

Abraham Mountain

After a recent peak bagging extravaganza in the David Thompson Country area of the Rockies, I’d become somewhat enamored with the free camping, light bushwhacking and magnificent views in the area. When Mike Mitchell and I had to cancel plans to climb Mount Lefroy due to a very high freezing level and Mike not feeling well, we switched objectives to Mount Stelfox and an attempt at Bright Star Peak for Sunday and Monday. I decided that with an excellent weather forecast for Saturday, I might as well do a solo trip and spend another night camping in the area. I had a lot of choices left but my top two or three were either some of the 5 Ex Coelis Group of peaks, Windy Point Ridge or Abraham Mountain.

Elliott Peak (Sentinel)

I had lots of time the afternoon before, after successfully scrambling Whirlpool Ridge, to think about objectives for my third and final day in DTC. I really wanted to try some of the Ex Coelis group but wasn’t sure I was in the mood for solo difficult scrambling. I also wasn’t sure about the weather fx, since I didn’t have cell reception. I finally settled on trying Elliott and Sentinel which interested me after talking to Mike about his trip in August of 2015. There were no published scramble routes up Elliott before Raf and Andrew finally found one on their descent of the mountain in August of 2011 after a very long and difficult ‘scramble’ up a slabby gully on it’s west face.

Whirlpool Ridge (Mount Frank)

After coming so close to its summit the day before after a traverse from Tuff Puff, I knew I was coming back immediately to make a second attempt at Whirlpool Ridge’s highest summit the very next day. I enjoyed a delightful (free) camp along hwy 11 the evening before, setting up my mid on the back of my truck for the first time, which worked out great. The only fly in the ointment was repeated gunfire nearby, throughout the evening which kept me up until around 11pm when darkness finally started settling in! The joys of camping outside of a park I suppose.

Tuff Puff (Whirly Puff)

Summit Elevation (m): 2800Elevation Gain (m): 1700Round Trip Time (hr): 10Total Trip Distance (km): 14Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain somethingDifficulty Notes: No difficulties to the summit of Tuff Puff. Whirly Puff is mostly an off-trail hike if you avoid our ill-advised attempts to Whirlpool. Note: We did an exploratory trip well beyond Tuff Puff to see if we could forge a route up the NE face of Whirlpool Ridge. We couldn’t and we didn’t.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical […]

Dunwey Peak (Rogan)

After a longish outing on Mount Head a few days previous with a couple of smelly guys (no offense guys), I decided it was time for a nice hike in Waterton Lakes National Park with my wife for a change. She not only looks (a lot) nicer than those other guys, but she smells nicer too. Again – no offense guys. In the fall of 2015 I hiked Lakeview Ridge solo and remember really liking the Horseshoe Basin area.

Head, Mount

On Friday, June 09 2017 I managed to summit Mount Head in the Highwood Range of the front range Rockies with Wietse and Kev Papke. Exactly ten years previous, to the day, I scrambled up Mount Head’s southern neighbor, Holy Cross Mountain, also with Wietse. Also, almost ten years to the day, was the first time I became aware of the scrambling on Mount Head when some friends did it and reported back. It was on my radar ever since and just never seemed to get priority until now. This was long before Nugara’s scrambles book added it to yet another list.

Two O’Clock Ridge

There was nothing to do after finally standing on top of Two O’Clock Peak but start our long descent towards Two O’Clock Ridge and the highway, far below and far in the distance still at this point. We were feeling pretty positive as we started down the summit ridge towards the obvious east descent ridge. It looked pretty darn easy and not too far. We should have known better!

Two O’Clock Peak

In his trip report, Eric mentions that he side-hilled on the east side of Two O’Clock Peak before reaching the far ridge and then backtracking back up to the summit on blocky terrain. He also mentions that it might work better to access the summit directly from the Landslide col. Mike and I were about to find out as we slowly and painfully worked our way down the huge (and freaking loose) boulders and rocks down from the summit of Landslide Peak. As I balanced my way delicately down to the Two O’Clock col, I was hyper-aware of the dangers of a boulder tipping over on either of my legs and doing some serious damage.

Landslide Peak

We had two choices from the summit of Bridge Peak. Turn back and descend via Ernest Ross or fully commit to our traverse and head southwest towards Landslide Peak. Guess which one we chose? Darn peakbaggers. 😉 Mike Mitchell and I figured beforehand already that the most complicated stretch of our planned traverse from Mount Ernest Ross to Two O’Clock Ridge was going to be the descent of the west face of Bridge Peak. We were correct on hindsight.

Bridge Peak

After leaving the summit of Ernest Ross it was time to traverse to the higher, and unofficially named, “Bridge Peak”. The sun was out and our views were fantastic as we worked our way down the west ridge of Ernest Ross towards a very distinctive colored band of rock and the much higher summit of Bridge Peak above us. The wind was cool, necessitating gloves and even a fleece jacket for me. Not quite the 24 degree weather we were expecting but the cool wind helped our energy levels throughout the day. As usual in the mountains, Bridge was further than it looked.

Ernest Ross, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2454Elevation Gain (m): 1050Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break your legDifficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling to the highest summit with limited exposure. Easy scrambling to the first summit. NOTE: This was done as part of a long traverse to Two O’Clock Ridge via Landslide Peak.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)Map: what3words After a long and difficult trip that ended only a few days previous, I was a wee bit apprehensive when Mike Mitchell asked […]

Sisyphean Life Lessons

Buddha says that most of life’s suffering is caused by an endless cycle of human craving for impermanent things and states of being, which is dukkha – incapable of satisfying and painful. By trapping ourselves in this continuous state of craving things that don’t last, we are caught in an endless cycle of rebirth, dukkha and dying, or samsara. Only by attaining nirvana can we be liberated from this path of suffering.