Kent Ridge - North Summit (GR254258) December 12, 2004

Mountain height:       2,914 m (9,560 ft)
Elevation gain:          approx. 1,200 m
Ascent time:             
5:40
Descent time:          
  2:40

Snowshoeing and scrambling with Mark and Kevin.

For the third week in a row, we returned to the Sawmill parking lot, this time with the hopes of summitting Mount Inflexible via the north (and highest) summit of Kent Ridge. We took along a full compliment of climbing and winter gear and the expertise and experience of Kevin Barton.

We chose to take the same route as last week’s attempt, given that it would probably grant the best views. We were not disappointed and after a somewhat grueling slog up snow-covered, steepish slopes we cleared the treeline to a magnificent view of the morning sun lighting up the east faces of Mount Murray and Cegfns. The view continued to improve as we gained the ridge and start up towards the highpoint at GR244254. Even in the previous week’s miserable weather conditions the ridge was quite impressive, however, with blue sky in every direction and a fresh layer of snow, the heavily corniced ridge was breath-taking and Mark and I quickly fell behind, as we stopped to take photos.

Getting to the summit at GR244254 took more time and energy than we had anticipated and so we only stopped briefly at the top and then continued down to the col between GR244254 and the north summit of Kent Ridge. Finding a way down a rockband that interrupted the descent slope, proved to be a challenge. Snow was piled up against the rockband, but was not consolidated enough to support our weight. We eventually found a weakness, where the snow was harder and carefully descended the short, but steep slope.

Once down at the col, we turned around to a splendid view of the summit of GR244254, backdropped by Birdwood, Smuts, and many other distinct peaks of the Spray Range. The long slog up to the north summit of Kent Ridge ensued –and long it was! Be prepared – this slope suffers from severe foreshortening and will probably take twice as long as you think – especially as a winter trip. Fortunately, the perfect weather conditions held, and beauty and magnificence of the view increased exponentially as we gained elevation. By the time we were near the summit, 11,000er’s Assinboine, Joffre and King George had asserted their dominance over the surrounding peaks and we finally got a good look at the elusive (for us anyway!) Mount James Walker.

We would have to wait until we were at the summit cairn before the stunning panorama was completed with great views of the entire Opal Range, peaks in the Highwood area and Kananaskis Lakes area, and the full length of Kent Ridge and Mount Kent (we all thought it quite odd that this was not an official summit, and the much lower point of Mount Kent was official). As well as the splendid view in every direction, the large cornice lining the east face of the ridge was spectacular. I would definitely classify this one of our most rewarding and awe-inspiring views and more than makes up for the tedious slog required to make the summit.

Taking a look towards Mount Inflexible, it quickly became evident that our progress would end at Kent Ridge. Although we had all the climbing equipment to safely descend down the col between Kent Ridge and Inflexible, it would have taken a good hour or two just to get down, not to mention the long scramble up to the summit of Inflexible and then the equally long return trip. Now at 1:40 pm , we had perhaps 3 hours of good daylight left and the traverse to Inflexible would have required at least 6 hours in the present condition of the terrain. I was not in the least disappointed about giving up the Inflexible attempt, as the scenery throughout the trip and at the summit had been phenomenal. Summits are great, but I’ll take a failed summit with great scenery over a successful summit with lousy or average scenery any day of the week.

After a wonderful hour long stay at the summit, we started the quick and enjoyable descent. Again, once at the col, instead of reascending GR244254, we descended slopes to the north back down towards James Walker Creek and then out along the ski trails. There was some avalanche concern near of top, but it was short-lived and soon we were in the trees where we felt much safer. Wearing snowhoes in the very light, but deep snow greatly assisted in the ease of the descent.

Overall, an incredibly rewarding and satisfying day out. I’ll certainly wager that the summit panorama of Kent Ridge North rivals that of most of the surrounding peaks and is superior to many. Great stuff!                       

Morning sunlight on the east face of Mount Murray 

 

Kevin and I, ascending the corniced ridge 

 

A closer look at some beautiful cornice scenery

 

Mark, ascending the ridge

 

More cornices

 

Mark, descending steep terrain enroute to the col

 

 

Looking back at the summit of GR244254

 

Mark and Kevin, traversing slopes towards the col; Birdwood, Pig's Tail, Commonwealth and Smuts in the background; Assinboine is just visible to the left of Smuts 

 

Losing more hard earned elevation!

 

At the col, looking back at GR244254

 

Nearing the beginning of the long and very foreshortened slog to the summit of Kent Ridge - North

 

Mark, nearing the summit

 

Mark, sitting on the summit cairn; Mount James Walker at the far right; the peak immediately to the left of Mark is Galatea and Chester lies further left 

 

Kevin at the summit

 

Me at the summit, with mountain of the Opal range in the background

 

Walking alongside the large summit cornice 

 

A better look at the cornice, with Mount James Walker to its right

 

A far reaching view to the south, including Kent Ridge, The Kananaskis Lakes, and mountains of the Highwood area (left)

 

Mark, sitting on the edge of the mountain; the cornice was very large here, extending all the way from the rocks he's sitting on

 

Back down at the col, looking at the summit of GR244254

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