Astral Peak has been on my radar for many years now, ever since climbing Devils Head in 2012 and looking back over my shoulder as I walked onto its surprisingly spacious summit. The views from this very distinctive and well-known Ghost Wilderness peak provided me with a list of relatively unknown summits to the west including Poltergeist, Astral and Castle Rock Peak.
I was feeling let down by the dismal September weather and with one last day off before going back to work for the winter, I decided to risk the crappy forecast and drive down to the Crowsnest Pass to try my luck with a few last summits on Monday, October 1 2018. My original plan was to scramble Deadman’s Peak and then if I had energy remaining, do the bike ‘n hike of Willoughby Peak. As I drove closer to the pass, I noticed copious amounts of fresh snow since my visit only 5 days earlier when I scrambled Mount Coulthard and McLaren.
Phil and I weren’t sure where “RA” Peak actually was! After returning from the summit of Jake Smith Peak, I was feeling a bit more energy than before the short scramble and we decided that since we were in the area, we might as well tag both the west and east “RA” peaks. From the col with Jake Smith Peak, Phil and I regained part of RA Peak’s south ridge before traversing easy SW slopes to the col on smatterings of sheep trails worn into the scree.
From the summit of Three Lakes Ridge we had a choice to make. Despite the gorgeous weather Phil and I were obviously enjoying, it was already past 14:00 hours and we were a long way from the parking lot. We could descend Three Lakes Ridge via west slopes before joining the track back up to Middle Kootenay Pass and decide from there whether or not Middle Kootenay Mountain was a “go”, or we could take advantage of the ridge we were already on and continue towards Jake Smith and Red Argillite peaks. Why was it even a choice?
After approaching the Middlepass Lakes and scrambling up Rainy Ridge it was time to traverse towards the creatively named, “Three Lakes Ridge” – the professional cartographers must have been on holidays when these peaks were monikered. Nugara mentions the traverse between Rainy and Three Lakes Ridge as doable but not highly recommended, especially in the direction we were going to be doing it. How difficult could it be right?
A day after ascending close to 1800 vertical meters and biking / hiking and scrambling almost 30km up and down Mount Coulthard and McLaren in the Crowsnest Pass area, I was back at it with Phil Richards. We were planning a very full day of biking, hiking and peakbagging in the South Rockies within the newly formed Castle Wildland Provincial Park, near the Castle Mountain Ski Resort and just outside the other newly formed park, Castle Provincial Park.
Whenever I looked into the Mount Coulthard scramble, I always ended up wondering why nobody seemed willing to combine it with its easy neighboring peak, Mount McLaren (not to be confused with Mount MacLaren in the High Rock Range further north). I decided it was time someone tried it and posted it as a good idea – provided it was a good one of course. As it turns out – it was a very good idea. Initially, I thought I’d have to start up to the Andy Good / McLaren col from lower down on the North York Creek Road, even lower than the plane crash site.
September 2018 was not the best ending to a hiking and scrambling season that I’ve ever had – not even close. To be blunt, it was pretty crappy and the worst end of season so far for me! September is usually my favorite time of year in the Rockies. The touron hordes go home and even normally busy areas such as Skoki, Lake O’Hara and Assiniboine see less and less visitors and more and more yellowing larches and bright fall colors in the vegetation coating the mountains. The combination of clear blue skies (no more wildfires), snow-capped peaks and bright vegetation is usually what keeps me going for the next 5 months of winter. Not this year.
Wietse, Phil, Calvin and I took advantage of yet another great May weather forecast on Sunday, May 27th 2018 to summit a peak that’s been on my list for the past few Alberta spring scrambling seasons thanks to its position on the front ranges of the Rockies near the Crowsnest Pass. For some reason Phil and I ended up canceling several planned excursions here, but alls well that ends well – and we picked the perfect day in the end.
With the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend and some unexpected days off work beforehand, I was looking to take advantage of a pretty nice wx with a scramble or two before the snow starts to pile up in earnest around the Rockies. Lucky for me, I received an invite from Cornelius and Trevor inviting me for a jaunt up the relatively obscure front range mountain, “Castle Rock”.
After a fairly straightforward route to the summit of Threepoint Mountain it was time to explore. Nugara is pretty sure in his guidebooks that there is “no direct route” from Threepoint over to Mount Rose, it’s shorter neighbor to the south. He’s right, of course. There is no direct scramble route. But when there’s no direct route what do you do? Obviously you scout around a bit and look for an indirect one. The thing with Mount Rose is that while it’s a nice enough little summit, surrounded by some very nice terrain, it’s not really the sort of mountain you want to dedicate a whole day to ascend. Phil and I both remarked more than once that if we didn’t get Rose with Threepoint we wouldn’t be coming back for it any time soon. From the summit of Threepoint, there were a few obvious gullies to try on the ridge splitting south (skier’s left) off the west ridge that Nugara recommends using for an alternate descent. We knew that the long band of cliffs running along this ridge were huge and even overhanging so the odds of these gullies working were slim. We also figured that for sure Nugara would have tried them – although if he did Threepoint in the winter he may not have bothered.
Ever since I first biked the Big Elbow loop in the front ranges of Kananaskis Country along the Sheep and Elbow Rivers I was interested in scrambling Threepoint Mountain and Mount Rose. I’m not sure why, but these two peaks kept coming up in conversations. While scrambling Cougar Mountain in 2010, I remember looking over at the two mountains and wondering if they could be done together. On May 31 2015 I scrambled Bluerock Mountain and found myself gazing once again at Rose and Threepoint, wondering about them. When Phil Richards sent me a PM on ClubTread asking if I’d be interesting in giving Threepoint and Rose a go, I couldn’t resist. Our first plan fell through due to my laziness at getting up early, but with the weather looking like it might allow us to sneak in a trip on Saturday, June 13 if we left early enough, we made plans to leave the trailhead at 05:30.
On Saturday, August 4, 2012 I was joined by the illustrious Sonny Bou for a jaunt up Ribbon Peak and hopefully Bogart Tower. Ribbon Peak has been on my radar for a few years already, mainly due to a trip report from Andrew Nugara and consequently it’s appearance in his scrambles book. For some reason or another I really like the Memorial Lakes area and I’d been up there 2 or 3 times previous and never realized the scrambling objectives that are in the area.
I took Wednesday, July 14 2010 off work and headed to K-Country to scramble one of my last remaining Kane peaks with Keith and So – Cougar Mountain. The weather forecast was dismal for this day but since we had all booked it already it wasn’t worth another cancellation. The summer weather so far in 2010 has been dismal at best! Like it so often happens, as I drove closer and closer to the front ranges the clouds started to dissipate and by the time I pulled into the parking area at 06:30 the sky was blue!
On Thursday, July 1 2010 I was joined by Bill Kerr to celebrate Canada’s birthday with an ascent of Copper Mountain in Banff National Park. Copper is one of those peaks that is very prominent and easy to access but doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention. Various trip reports on the internet indicate some confusion regarding the ascent and descent routes with stories of people getting cliffed out and even jumping off small cliffs to get down!
On the weekend of June 26, 27 I was joined by So Nakagawa on a quest to finish up my remaining “Kane” scrambles in Jasper National Park. The plan was to scramble both Pyramid and Cinquefoil on Saturday and finish up with Utopia on Sunday. Secretly I was thinking that this was a slightly aggressive plan and it would take a small miracle to pull it off but what’s life without a few aggressive, unrealistic goals? 🙂
Since I had scrambled Mounts Pilot, Brett, Burstall and Storm over the previous 2 days I figured it was time for a short and easy mountain. I chose Mount Fox. Short? No. Easy? No. Oh well. Fun? Yes! I was joined by Harvey, an active scrambler and hiker from Calgary who I was introduced to by Marta.
After scrambling Mount Pilot and Brett the day before and driving all the way to Elkwood campground in Kananaskis I was ready for a shorter and easier day. I chose to finally do Mount Burstall since it had been on my radar for a long time already.
Summit Elevation (m): 2984 Elevation Gain (m): 2400 Trip Time (hr): 10 Total Trip Distance (km): 25 Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break something or worse Difficulty Notes: Easy alternate descent is the way to go on this one! Difficult scrambling on the ridge described by Kane. Note: This trip combines both Pilot and Brett with a bike approach. GPS Track Download: Download GPX File Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th) Map: Google Maps After ascending Pilot Mountain I decided to take advantage of the long […]
On Monday, August 31 2009 I decided to attempt Pilot Mountain and Mount Brett as a day trip. Both of these mountains are rated ‘difficult’ by Alan Kane and both of them deserve this rating. I knew that I was in for a long day and was hesitant about doing it solo but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and go with it – and I’m glad I did!
After scrambling up Commonwealth Peak the day before, Keith and I found ourselves driving to the Mount Aylmer trailhead at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park on Saturday morning, June 27 2009. I should point out that we were fairly tired. And it wasn’t because we did Commonwealth Peak in 3.45 hours the night before. It was because of the rude neighbors we had at the Spray Lakes campground!