Cougar Peak attempt – January 21, 2006

Roundtrip time: 10:45

Scrambling with Mark.

Did we ever choose the wrong route on this attempt! Cougar Peak, as named by Bob Spirko, lies east of Mount Lady MacDonald and shares a col and connecting ridge with Mount Fable and Grotto Mountain. Bob had successfully completed a route up a gully on the west face of the mountain. Our objective for the day was to see if we could reach the summit via the southwest ridge.

After the trudge up Cougar Creek we arrived at the forks, where we decided to abandon our plan to take the southwest ridge and follow the drainage to the right. This would take us to the Cougar/Fable col and then to the summit…….. in theory anyway. Negotiating the drainage was tedious, time-consuming, and never-ending. 4 hours into the trip and we were still stuck in the canyon with steep walls on both sides -  a little frustrating, given the clear, blue sky above us and fresh layer of snow on the surrounding peaks – all the ingredients of fantastic scenery.

Just when we thought we were nearing the ascent slope to the col, we arrived at a small frozen waterfall, with vertical walls on either side. Lacking the right gear and ability, for that matter, to ascend the waterfall, we tried to circumvent it on steep slopes to the left. This ended in failure and even if we were able to get around the first waterfall, we could see that there were several others beyond that. We had little choice but to retreat.

On the way back we spotted a potential ascent – a break between the vertical cliffbands that lined the frozen creek. Slogging up the steep terrain sucked the life out of me, though we did finally see the sun. After another endless slog (at least with some interesting scenery this time) we thought we would be soon arriving at the ridge that would grant us access to the summit; or at least an alternate descent route down the west side of the mountain – wrong again. Arriving at the top of our ascent gully revealed we were still a significant distance from the ridge, and getting down to a gully that led to the ridge appeared to be quite problematic. At 3:30 pm, time was a major concern and we were forced to retreat. Almost 11 hours of tough hiking and scrambling with limited results – I guess you can’t win them all.         

An early  morning look at The Three Sisters


Hiking up Cougar Creek, with Cougar Peak in the background


A closer look at the southwest ridge of Cougar Peak


An interesting diversion along the ascent drainage 


More interesting scenery 


Ascending a gully towards the ridge


Almost at the top of the gully


At the top of the gully, with the remainder of the route to the ridge 


Taking a break before going down; the false summit is right of centre


Same as above

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