Mt Cory Scramble

We started up this peak in Banff Friday Aug 28 - in the smoky skies that persisted all week (fires in Washington state). Not the best air to be inhaling at a frequent rate up a 1400m (4500 feet) steep scramble.  The start of it is only more brutal on the way down. You gain the ridge immediately from the valley floor, about 10 km west of the Banff townsite, in Banff National Park. I guess I promised my younger daughter Jill we would climb it sometime, and it was time. Along with Carol, and Aunt Liz, we completed the route in 8 hours. My quads would hurt for 3 days.

The peak shows in the background, behind several false peaks, along a fantastic ridge that is along vertically thrust formations of shale and limestone. A cool stromatolite bed is shown on the right side of the subpeak in the foreground (Wikipedia). These intertidal formations have been around for over a billion years - still persisting in warm tropical seas today. This being about half way up the ridge, where route finding becomes a little more important. Some of the false peaks you trundle over, some you attempt to skirt around.

This scramble is rated "easy-moderate", and I rarely sample the moderate types. That said, like Mt Chester, the outcropping limestone is pretty easy to pick your way through and up, and is rather fun. Sometimes my wife didn't think so, but she blundered on - not looking down at times - and joined us at the top.

Beyond, smoky air, showers threatened, but really didn't amount to much. But it didn't make any pictures look too brilliant (the last picture in the collection below shows the author standing at the top on a bluebird day in 2009). Did I mention the downclimb was unrelenting?

By the way, on your way eastbound for Banff on the TransCanada highway, this is the mountain with the big cave that you see high up in the beautiful limestone face on your left as you approach the Sunshine ski area turnoff. That face also has a famous climbing crack first climbed by Hans Gmoser (inventor of helicopter skiing holidays).

Sure seems like summer!

May was spent holidaying in the US west. I hope to post a short video on a raft trip I did with the boys on the upper Grand Canyon. The rest of the time (with Carol) was in Napa (road biking, wine tasting, hiking, and kayaking), San Fran and then 101 highway through to Washington. Beautiful!

Back in Alberta: After a couple of kayak paddles on the Kananaskis and Elbow Rivers with some friends on fairly high water, Carol and I went on a hike to Wasootch Ridge off the Kananaskis highway, about a 35 minute drive from Grandview Chalet B&B in Canmore. The high was 23C, and it was calm and sunny. Can't do better than that!

The 6.9 km hike (if you make the summit) gains 3200' (975m). An unmarked trail starts out of the Wasootch Creek parking lot, and immediately climbs a very steep trail before following the ups and a few downs along an impressive ridge. Views are great on both sides, dropping steeply into respective creek drainages. Wasootch Creek nicely displays what the 2013 flood did with alluvial deposits all along the drainage, down to the Kananaskis River. The limber pines(?) show very cool shapes up high along the ridge, tortured by the winds and snows.

In numerous areas, the Mississippian limestone has branching corals, crinoids, and the odd brachiopod - in some cases actual reefs. The rock along the ridge is nearly vertically thrusted, which makes for a very interesting scramble for those who wish to get to the top. We opted for one of the last nubs before the actual peak for some lunch - shared with a chipmunk.

The weather continues to be excellent in western Canada - but that is about to change to showers, which are likely needed. After the tour through California, rain can be appreciated.