Saturday, October 20, 2007


11km 4700ft trailhead 6986ft summit ridge vert gain 2200ft

The day began with a first hand look at a chinook formation. I've seen a few "chinook arches" from the east looking west but this was the first time I've been right underneath it. This picture is a 6 picture composite I made to get a 180 degree view and it really deserves to be clicked to get a close-up look. The wind pummeled us with gusts I can only guess were close to 90km/hr.

The route (I've drawn it in red) starts off the highway on the east side of Barrier Lake (Lac d'obstruction as we like to call it) and quickly launches you above the Kananaskis valley. The photo here shows the first half of the route tracing its way along the top of the Wasootch ridge giving you constant 360 views.

The snow wasn't much of an impediment and really only served to make the vistas more dramatic. At the left Suz pauses with the Wasootch creek winding its way far below.

Its a testament to the area that in spite of the wind punishment, Suz still has a smile!

Here's a typical example of the ridgeline. For the most part its wide enough to navigate while still gawking around. In places however, it narrows down. One six foot long section is only two boots wide and a couple thousand feet down on either side. Suz pranced across this like a mountain goat but I found myself with both hands down crabbing across not liking things at all.

Here's one of the reasons I wanted to do this route, the rare Limber pines, Pinus Flexis (sometimes latin sounds made up) They only grow at high altitudes and especially on ridge crests. I've only seen a few and these certainly were astounding. Twisted into bonsai shapes over hundreds of years, the ridgeline is littered with them. This species is very draught tolerant and nearly impervious to winterburn allowing it to grow in perfectly inhospitable environments.

click on this pic to get a closeup of this ancient survivor.

I couldn't resist trying to dangle my legs over the abyss on this rock ledge that was cambered slightly back from the ledge. I could only force myself to get my feet over the edge which I counted as a small victory over my acrophobia.

Even though we were wind whipped we loved this trip. The terrain was the perfect challenge to our ability level and the view was superb. Added to that was the thrilling overtones provided by the chinook though I occasionally worried about being blown right off the ridge. It wasn't likely to happen but I worried about it anyway.

Suz wants to return here on a nicer day and perhaps we'll scramble up the peak connected to the ridge.

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