Unnamed at GR380492 and GR385487 (south of Mount Baldy South) – February 18, 2006

Mountain height:                                   2,348 m (7,701 feet) and 2,342 m (7,682 feet) respectively
Elevation gain:                                      1 ,190 m total
Ascent time to GR380492:                  2:45
Traverse time to GR385487:               1:00
Descent time from GR385487 to car: 3:15

Solo scramble.

The absolute best thing about the mountains is that one week you can experience spectacular visual wonders while ascending a relatively significant mountain, like Mount Olive, in the grandeur surroundings of the Wapta Icefield, and then the following week you can get an equally mesmerizing and gratifying experience while ascending a runt-of-a-mountain, like GR385487, in (many would say) the far less grandeur surroundings of the Kananaskis Front Ranges.  

GR380492 lies south of the south peak of Mount Baldy and is usually accessed via Baldy Pass. Having completed that rather mundane route several years, I choose instead an ascent route via the west ridge, as suggested by Gillean Daffern as an alternate descent and described by Bob Spirko and recommended by another friend. I’m not sure if in fact I followed Bob’s route, however, it really was a “no-brainer” – leave Baldy Pass Trail as soon as possible, gain the west ridge, and up you go to the summit.

As predicted by the forecasters, the weather was fairly miserable and I fully expected the 60% chance of snow to come to fruition. I was therefore in no hurry and plodded lazily up the treed ridge to the first highpoint. From there, it was an easy and interesting ascent to the summit – definitely a more enjoyable route, in my opinion, than the one via Baldy Pass.

Just before I reached the summit, a slither of blue sky appeared to the north and I hoped it would make its way over. I was in luck – not only did it come over, but it brought friends and within 15 minutes, the entire sky was clear (I guess the other 40% of the forecast called for totally clear skies!). The dramatic change and contrast in the scenery, as the wall of blue slowly enveloped everything to the south was thoroughly breath-taking. I was also stunned by the fantastic summit panorama, in genera,l and couldn’t remember for the life of me why I hadn’t enjoyed it the first time – probably a great deal to do with the newly fallen layer of snow that simply brought everything to life, and the fact that since that early trip, I had visited the summits of a great many of the surrounding peaks.

Most intriguing in the summit view was the unnamed peak to the southeast. It’s beautifully curved ridge, with a steep drop-off on the east side was simply too much to resist and after a brief summit stay I started down towards it. This was by far the highlight of the day. The ridge was stunning, prompting innumerable photo opportunities – in fact, I actually took almost twice as many photos as I had on our fantastic ascent of Mount Olive, a week earlier (a fact that I’m sure will surprise Raff, Jason, and Vern, with whom I shared the Olive ascent – of course, I was lagging behind them all day, and had only their backsides as my primary view – no offense Boys!). And when all was said and done, I ended up doing more elevation gain than on Olive - another odd fact, given the large disparity in the height’s of the two mountains – big or small, the mountains of the Rockies are simply magnificent!         

I stayed on the edge of the ridge throughout, although a couple of fairly exposed, snow-covered sections forced me to leave the ridge to circumvent them. Without the snow, I’m sure one could stay on the ridge throughout. The traverse took me an hour (at least 20 minutes of that stopping to take photos) and brought me to another terrific summit panorama. It was especially gratifying to see the entirety of the Mount McDougall massif, now that Mark and I have touched all the highpoints on that long ridge. It looked feasible to continue the trip in a southeast direction to another highpoint, northwest of Belmore Browne Peak, but I thought I’d save that for another day when Mark was with me (that’s code for: I was too tired and/or lazy!). 

For the descent I tried in stay on the ridge a little more. This was cause for a couple of sections where I bum-shuffled across the narrow ridge. I managed all sections, but one, giving me a great excuse to return. At the low point, the fantastic weather compelled me to return to the summit of 380492, although side-sloping would have cut significant elevation gain and distance from the return trip. Again, the traverse was hampered (in a good way) by continued bewilderment at the amazing scenery and the required stops to capture it on film. From 380492 to car was fast, easy, and delightful in the warm, sunny weather.    

An unexpectedly brilliant day out and a fantastic trip (clear skies and fresh snow - a must!).

A dreary look at Barrier Lake, from the lower west ridge


Interesting slabby terrain on the ridge; mouseover to see a similar photo taken on descent


The west (left) and south peaks of Mount Baldy


At the first highpoint, looking at the ascent route (summit at the far left) 


The three peaks of Mount Baldy and a slither of blue sky


GR385487 (left) and more interesting rock; mouseover to see a similar photo with a clear sky 


Looking back at the ascent route; Mount Lougheed in the distant centre


The closer look at Mount Lougheed; Allan and Collembola in the foreground


Almost at the summit of GR380492, with GR385487 to the right; the lighting here was incredbible 


Same as above


Looking towards GR385487


GR385487 and part of the connecting ridge


Looking back at GR380492


At the lowpoint between the peaks


Interesting snow scenery and GR385487; mouseover for a close-up 




More of the ridge to GR385487


More interesting snow scenery


The northwest view


At the summit of GR385487; the peak in the centre  is unofficially known as "Tiara Peak"


Mount Kidd


Too lazy to set up a self-timed photo, I make an attempt to place a human being in one of the pictures 


Looking back at GR380492


Looking back at GR385487, on descent


Same as above


Same as abvoe


A redundant photo of the cool snow formations; mouseover for closer look


The southeast face of GR380492


Looking back at GR385487 and the ridge


Same as above from the lower west ridge of GR380492