Pilot Mountain

By Geoff Hardy

Posted on 8/12/2018 6:50 PM

We didn’t have ideal conditions for our trip up Pilot Mountain. We sheltered under a tree for 50 minutes while a thunder storm passed. We were blasted with snow and rain on the way to the summit. The summit was socked in the clouds so there were no views. Mount Brett was buried in dark clouds so we decided to postpone that peak for another day.

Despite all this, Pilot was one of my favourite scrambles. The 5km bike approach is reasonably straightforward and saves a lot of time – you barely need to pedal on the way out. The scrambling sections at the top were a whole lot of fun.

Descending behind the flake:

Our route:

Mosquito Mountain

By Geoff Hardy

Posted on 8/6/2018 8:48 PM

Mosquito Mountain was unusual in that the descent route was more interesting than the ascent. The route up a a reasonably straightforward easy scramble, with fantastic scenery of course. On the way down, I took Nugara’s suggestion to descend the south ridge to a turquoise lake. This ridge had the only real scrambling on the whole route and the lake was one of the coolest alpine lakes I have seen.

From the summit:

The descent ridge:

I can’t get enough of this lake:

The route went clockwise:

Bugaboos 2018

By Michael Shoemaker

Posted on 7/21/2018 6:31 AM


A Bugaboo Dream – 44 years in the making


I still remember the day, perhaps it was in the fall, at JR Smallwood Collegiate in Wabush, Labrador, 1974. I was in grade 4 and Ms. Young (my all time favourite teacher) was giving our Geography Lesson. Our textbook had a picture of … perhaps it was Bugaboo Spire. The name enthralled me … and the picture compelled me.


Last weekend (July 13-16, 2018) I hiked up to the Alpine Club of Canada’s Conrad Kain Hut in Bugaboo Provincial Park with the Calgary Mountaineer Scrambling Club. It was my 3rd time to the Hut in the last 10 years. The previous two times were day hikes.


Prior to the trip, I got myself a fancy new 35 litre mountaineering backpack and rented mountaineering boots and crampons from University of Calgary Outdoor Center.  (At MEC, I asked, “what makes a mountaineering backpack a mountaineering backpack?” They sit higher, the waist belt isn’t big and cumbersome to allow easy access to your harness, there is a place to put an ice axe and your crampons. Made sense … I bought one.)


On our first full day (Day #2) our focus was Pigeon Spire. I really knew nothing about it … but I did set it as an objective when signing up with CMSC … on request, a couple of friends had told me that I probably had the skills to do it.


We planned to leave the hut at 6am. About a 2.5 hour hike up ~1100 meters from the Hut over glacier and a very steep Col between Snow Patch Spire and Bugaboo Spire – crampons required, led us to the base of Pigeon Spire.


I was matched with Andrew and Al … Andrew was looking forward to increasing his skills at setting Anchors and placing “Trad Gear” along this 5.4 route. Al, a long time mountain guy with lots of experience … hadn’t been in the mountains for a couple of years …. and looked forward to “feeling it” again.


We started on our way.  I was shocked! This is 5.4!   Since about 1991 … I have done various climbing … and have managed to climb upto 5.10b. This was different. EXPOSURE.  A fall – could have you dead. However, why fall?! 5.4 – done with confidence, is pretty easy.


Not being confident, I was happy to be on a rope with Andrew and Al … taking our good ole time … pitch after pitch.  At some point, Al suggested we have a “Turn Around Time”. We agreed, that if at 2:30pm … we weren’t at the summit, we would turn around and be home for supper.


At one point, another CMSC member – Anna, and her group of 3 others … ripped past us – soloing the entire route. They were basically running up the spire – unroped. Shocked – again!  (I want that!!!)

Wow – to have the confidence … to scramble up this ridge – unroped.


At 3:30pm … we were at the top of the 2nd (3019 meters) of 3 summits to Pigeon Spire. We called it … and turned around. I was happy. We would be home before dark.


We exited of the Spire, climbing down the glacier to the hut. The snow was soft at this point, so we did not use our crampons. It was a nice run down hill.


Back at the Hut, at 8pm – completely exhausted physically and mentally, I immediately headed to my bunk … and slept 12 hours.


On Sunday, Day #3 … after a lazy morning in the hut, Andrew suggested we do a 5.7 – Lions Way on Central Spire. I asked, “What makes you think I have the skills?”  If he was game to lead, I was game to follow.


After some not so easy route finding, we were at the base of Central Spire and the beginning of Lions Way at 2pm. At 4:30 … we were on our 3rd pitch … and spent about an hour going up … what seemed like a 5.9 route. It was beyond our ability (we were off route).  We were happy to turn around and repel down, making it back to Conrad Kain Hut for Supper.


On reflection, I feel like I’ve been preparing for this trip since 1974!  I look forward to more scrambling including future trips to The Bugaboo’s – doing more routes, and finishing the routes we started.

Bryon Howard

Mt Schlee

By Geoff Hardy

Posted on 7/2/2018 2:42 PM

The trip up Mt Schlee was a super-scenic tour past Elbow Lake, Elpoca and Tombstone. The ridge is a jagged series of ribs, so when ascending it is difficult to know where the summit is. We ended up ascending too far to the left and when we reached the ridge, we found our route to the summit blocked by a wall of rock, maybe about 100m from the true summit. After descending from the ridge we called it a day. It would have been a pretty significant elevation loss and regain to get to the summit and by that time the weather was deteriorating.

Wasootch Peak

By Joad Clement

Posted on 6/17/2018 6:25 AM
On Friday evening June 15, 2018, Stasys and I decided  to head out to the South summit of Wasootch Peak despite the uncertain weather, with 50% chances of showers in the forecast. The forecast did not lie as half of our trip, mostly during the descent, was completed under a light rain.
The trip allowed us to experience a mixed bag of mountain weather conditions in a short period of 2 hours 45 min car to car: sun, rain, wind gusts, snow flurries, and some excellent views of the changing sky.
I would certainly go back there as an evening outing and reach the North summit, or even venture all the way to nearby Kananaskis Peak.Typical Hiking Trail for the first 600 m of elevation gain

Dark Clouds to the South

Stasys on the South summit

Kananaskis Peak to the South

Amazingly dark sky once back close to Calgary


Mount Roche, Yarrow & Spionkop Ridge

By Geoff Hardy

Posted on 6/10/2018 6:13 PM

It’s a big drive down to Castle so we needed a big day to make the most of it!

We started by biking 4 km along a gas plant road and then stashed our bikes in the trees by a fork in the road. From there we hiked up the mostly dry Spionkop Creek. It was only a few minutes along the creek when I stumbled over a wobbly rock and broke my thumb on a rock. Fortunately we were not going to let that slow us down so we continued on up to Mt Roche (also known as Spread Eagle Mountain).

From the summit of Roche, it was a pretty quick detour down to the outlier known as Mount Yarrow before heading back to Spionkop Ridge. Travel along the ridge had enough colourful rock and variety of terrain to keep us amused. As we neared the summit, the wind went from breezy to blasting. At the summit we decided that due to the stormy looking weather rolling in, we would pass on visiting Loaf Mountain and headed down to the col and out the valley.

There was quite a bit of route-finding on the way down the valley to avoid bush-whacking and various cliffs. After the fun of the ridge traverse, this part seemed really long. Eventually we got back to the bikes, where we were grateful for an easy ride down to the car – we hardly needed to pedal.

Stats: 8km bike, 27km hike, 1975m elevation gain, 10:30 hours

Threepoint Mountain & Mount Rose

By Geoff Hardy

Posted on 6/3/2018 9:00 AM

For our trip up Threepoint Mountain and Mount Rose, we parked at the junction of Powerface Trail and Highway 66 due to construction. From there, it was an 11.5km bike ride in along the Big Elbow trail which is in great shape. Crossing the Elbow River was straight forward and we were soon slogging up to the three points of Threepoint. From the highest summit, we descended the west ridge to reach a break in the cliff bands (thanks to Vern for his trip report) before a gruelling traverse and then regaining of the ridge. After ascending Mt Rose, we followed the west ridge down and then out the very scenic Cougar Creek.

Stats: 23km bike, 16.5km hike, 1760m elevation gain, 10:25 hours

Phantom Crag Difficult Scramble

By Gerry Richardson

Posted on 5/22/2018 7:00 PM

Fit parties could do this in 8 hours from the bottom of the “Big Hill” to quote Cornelius of www.spectacularmountains.com. We must be “unfit” because we took considerably longer.
There were mitigating circumstances of course, high river levels,wet ,snowy, icy conditions and the occasional navigation errors extending our day. We weren’t complaining though as the
sun shone brightly winds were light and the temperatures remained moderate all day. Rather unusual for the Victoria Day weekend which in most years serves up cooler conditions
for hardy campers eager to kick off the season.

I haven’t been in the Ghost very often. Most of my trips have been in early spring to climb ice. Being a warm long weekend I wondered how rowdy it would be. News reports from previous years
seemed to paint the area as the “Wild West” lawless and loud. Every patch of suitable camping filled to capacity; fires blazing, coolers oveflowing with beer and 4x4s swarming
over the countryside.. Maybe it was the crisp night on Friday thinned the herds or the campers were still cocooned in their sleeping bags but it was a quiet uneventful drive there in Laura’s Jeep.
The road was in reasonable shape and we saw many regular cars at campsites right to the bottom of the “Big Hill”.

Very high water in the river. We elected to wade in right away. Strong currents with water levels running knee high or slightly higher. Once across we followed the vehicle track on the cobble flats as long
as possible moving to the trees for short stretches. Didn’t have to cross the river again. The canyon approach had flowing water so boulder hopping, dry sandbar walking and one snowbridge where the
canyon chokes got us to the waterfalls. We took the left cutoff mentioned in the Spectacular Mountains report which was cairned and scrambled up the wet headwall. A little unnerving but not too
slippery. The thoughts of downclimbing weren’t appealing so I hoped we would find Vern’s easy trail on the climber’s right. Looking over that direction we could see new flagging buoying our hopes
for the descent. A very pleasant staircase followed right up to the grassy slopes and snow covered scree.

Looking up as we ate lunch I expected a long slow climb. Actually it was an illusion. It didn’t take long at all to reach our snow traverse over to the low spot on the first cliff band. The 2m deep
snow formed a nice solid ramp up the gully. It was icy towards the top but easily mangable with crampons and ice axe. Yeah we aced the first difficult bit.. It looked easiest to follow the snow patches.
Turning climber’s left and across a dry wide edge got us to another easy snow ramp and on to the crux climb on the east end of the summit block. The crux photos from other reports look scary but really
the dry rock was fine. Everyone easily climbed the short 2m high slightly overhanging lip onto a ledge followed by the vertical 5m face with good solid hand and footholds. The summit plateau was
way wider and longer than I imagined. Very comfortable to hang out on indeed..

No summit register in the cannister as the previous party reported. After the usual summit cheers and photos we headed back down. No one used the rope I setup just in case. We retraced our steps and
carefully crossed the snow postholing as we went. Not that bad as it was only a short stretch. Normally I would relish quickstepping down snow but the scree was a far better option today. Another food and
drink break at our lunch spot and we headed back down the stream bed until we arrived at the first waterfall. A wrong guess to go left into the trees hoping to find the easy path had us bushwacking looking for easier options .
After a short rap down a slabby cliff we peered over the canyon rim. No not my cup of tea. Downclimbing wet rock by backtracking to our ascent route would be less risky.
Heading back along the lower ledge I hoped we wouldn’t have to climb back up. Fortunately we came out under the first waterfall so worst case we could wander over to the cliff band skiers right and
downclimb. Luckily we spotted flagging on the trees skiers left and there it was a very well worn trail right along the base of the canyon to the bottom of the falls. The easiest way down would be
right at the first falls downclimb easy rock and swing back left across the top of the second falls to take the trail. An easier ascent route too no doubt.

The return trip along the river seemed shorter and as we arrived at the ford we were greeted by gunfire, buzzing chainsaws and gridlock as arriving campers clogged the road by the waters edge.
An instant tent city. had sprung up since we left in the morning. The news reports might be more accurate than I thought. We expected a sheriff and deputies to keep law and order but the pony express hadn’t reached the fort yet .
Our drive out was uneventful and approaching vehicles seemed to be driving decently. How would I describe our trip. It was Good Bad and Ugly. Predominately good though. And we took the stairs when we could.
Thanks to Laura for expertly driving us there and back, Andrew for assisting with the climbs and river crossing.
A great day to be out and about with very fine friendly companions.

Club trip information and links.

Lightning Peak

By Geoff Hardy

Posted on 5/22/2018 8:03 PM

Lightning Peak was a great option for May long weekend. We biked in for about 4.5km along two forestry roads, most of which was in great shape, but there were some sections where rocks/steepness/deadfall made us walk around. I recommend following Bob Spirko’s route closely after leaving the road and start up the creek bed as it follows a ridge where the trees are thinnest. Once up on the ridge, it’s a pleasant 2.5km ridge walk to get to the summit with some short sections of moderate scrambling along the way.

Stats: 9km bike, 13km hike, 1400m elevation gain, 8 hours

Gunnery Mountain

By Gerry Richardson

Posted on 5/12/2018 8:13 PM

What a difference 4 weeks makes. The knee to waist deep snow is gone and its relatively quick to gain the 600m vertical to the peak in under two hours. We extended the trip by heading north dropping down to a col on the connecting ridge to Holy Cross Mountain. There is still some lingering snow among the trees,  knee deep occasionally. We made short work of it and didn’t encounter more than a few small patches after that. Very obvious and good trail to the Grass Pass..Far more interesting than the direct trail up the creek from the road. Once at the Grass Pass we sat in the sun and had lunch. Unfortunately the hungry ticks were having the same idea. I seemed to be the target. and my companions swiftly brushed off 5 or 6 from my jacket before we got going again. We headed up to the right along the ridge to a highpoint known as Boundary Pine.. A large stand of old limber pines cover the west slopes. They lean away from the prevailing west winds.. I haven’t seen this in the Rockies however it is very common on seacoasts where constant winds seem to cause foliage to grow on the leeward side of the trunk and the whole tree leans away from the wind. No gales or heavy wind from the west today just a light cooling breeze. From there we headed directly down the ridge sometime on a well marked trail . Other times just crossing open ground avoiding deadfall or brush. As we neared the end of the ridge it looked like a dropoff would  halt progress .We did notice a rubbly break that brought us down to some scree slopes that almost reached the road. This section was the only real scrambling of the day.  Some Bighorn Ewes and their offspring were munching the new grass on the roadside on the way back to the car. Its been a long winter so I’m sure they were eager to stock up on some quality feed. We  stopped at Marv’s diner in Black Diamond on the way home for some well earned burgers and shakes. Yes a very relaxing leisurely day with great company. Better keep an eye out for those unwelcome hitchhikers for the next few weeks. I know I’ll be scouring the car for a few days for the eight legged creatures. Good thing my dear wife is away until Tuesday. LOL 🙂 Thank you all for joning me on a most excellent adventure ticks and all.