Unnamed at GR303516, between Mount Lorette and Mount McGillivray attempt – January 29, 2006

Roundtrip time: 8:45

Scrambling with Mark.

We had been planning an attempt of this mountain ever since we made the summit of Mount Lorette, in May of 2005. The beauty of the peak itself, its striking connecting ridge and the fact that it is the highest peak of the range, also containing McGillivray and Lorette, was more than enough  motivation to give it a shot. Too bad we picked the wrong month to make that attempt. T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruelest month…” – obviously, he had never made an attempt of Unnamed at GR303516 in January!  

We did, however, have the good sense to use Lorette’s descent route to gain the first col between 303516 and Lorette, as opposed to ascending Lorette’s challenging south ridge (in January!). After wading the Kananaskis River (in hip-waders, of course!) we started up the ascent drainage. Though nothing more than a long and very foreshortened hike, the stunning towering, slabby walls of limestone on the left side on the drainage kept us thoroughly entertained. As well, it was particularly interesting (and a little sobering) to look up to the crux section of Lorette’s south ridge, minus the infamous chockstone. Less than a year ago, both Mark and I had stood, both feet, on that minuscule little bridge and only a few months after our ascent, it mysteriously disappeared (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my scale-breaking 145 pounds of weight that loosened it!). Anyone who has done that route knows full well that there is (was) nothing but air below the chockstone.

It took us far longer than planned to reach the col (almost 3 hours from the car), but again the scenery was terrific and once at the col, we were rewarded with spectacular views towards Lorette and its connecting ridges. Another slog up to the next highpoint followed, and the ascent route to 303516 finally came into view. Unfortunately, the west wind was fierce on the ridge and the wind chill, bone-chilling. We had to rule out doing anything too technical, even though we had dragged along our usual (over) compliment of climbing gear. It was simply way too cold to be standing around while setting up belay stations and belaying each other.

Nevertheless, we continued on, enjoying the fantastic scenery of the corniced ridge, with a terrific drop-off down the east side. Soon the ridge narrowed. Although the west-facing slopes had been wind-blown free of snow, there was still enough snow on the ridge to render it a fairly serious proposition. Clear of snow, the ridge traverse may have been moderate scrambling with a healthy dose of exposure, but with the snow, wind, and brutally cold temperatures, travel was challenging. We eventually took out the rope and belayed each other across the more exposed and snow-covered sections, but the process was too time-consuming and we had to back down, 500 horizontal and 150 vertical metres shy of the summit. Still, the trip was extremely scenic, the weather clear for the most part, and we both thoroughly enjoyed the route – no summit, but a rewarding and very satisfying day out.                         

The ascent gully (climber's descent route)


The summit block of Mount Lorette (left)


More of the gully; great rock on the right side


Looking towards Lorette again


More gully


Same as above


 A close-up of the crux section of Mount Lorette, as seen on May 22, 2005 - with the chockstone intact


A close-up of the crux section of Mount Lorette as seen on January 29, 2006 - sans chockstone


Interesting rock and Mount Lorette behind


The gully again


Mark slogs up the final section of the gully


At the col, with the first highpoint to the left


The second highpoint, further north


The narrow ridge east of the ascent gully; Wasootch Peak behind, just right of centre 


Mary Barclay's Mountain; a terrific early or late season trip


Pleasant snow scenery at the col


The first highpoint (right) and Lorette (left)


Starting up towards the first highpoint


Mark follows


At the first highpoint, with our objective to the left and the connecting ridge


Mount Lorette; just a steep hike to the summit from here


A closer look at Lorette


The Three Sisters (centre)


2 of the 4 peaks of Lougheed (background)


Approaching the second highpoint


Looking back to the first HP and Lorette


The ridge to the first of the peak double-summit mountain


Same as above


Same as above


The beautiful ridge to the summit


Lorette again


A very enjoyable ridgewalk 


The ridge narrows a little


A fantastic drop-off down the east face


More of the ridge


Coming up the ridge


The rope comes out; the terrain was fairly exposed here and there was snow on the ridge


Mark straddles the ridge 


Setting up more protection


As far as we got; the section to the right was quite exposed and snow -covered


Mark sets up a quick belay 


Heading home