Mount Bogart attempt (west ridge) September 4, 2004

Mountain height:    3,144 m (10,315 ft)
Elevation gain:       approx. 1,350 m (we came up approx. 400 vertical metres short)
Round-trip time:     
Descent time:        2:20

Scrambling with Linda Breton and Kevin Barton.

Drew's account:

When Kevin called me the night before and suggested we try the west ridge of Mount Bogart from the Smith-Dorrien road, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Using this route would eliminate the lengthy and tedious 11 km approach along the Ribbon Falls Trail (replacing it with the shorter and more scenic route via Sparrowhawk Tarns), cut the elevation gain by about 300 vertical metres, and possibly provide a more interesting ascent up the west ridge (instead of the southeast scree slog).

Linda and I, therefore, put our plans to attempt Mount Murray and Cegfns on hold and the three of us headed to the Sparrowhawk parking lot. Although we started the trip under cloudy skies, the forecast promised a mostly clear day and so we fully expected to see the sun for the better part of the ascent and descent. The 5 km hike to Sparrowhawk Tarns was easy and became increasingly more scenic and interesting as we passed in between Mount Sparrowhawk on the left and Red Ridge to our right. Given the large amount of precipitation over the previous two weeks, we expected a fair amount of snow and we got exactly that….and a little more! Once in the snow, we were very lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective) to find several tracks of bear footprints. They were at least a day old and were, fortunately, heading in opposite direction we were traveling.

From the tarns, there were a couple of options to gain the ridge. We took the obvious east slope. It was also the shortest route and in hindsight perhaps the only one that would that got us to the ridge without some intense downclimbing or rappelling. The slope was not terribly steep, but was a little exposed in places due to the snow cover. Kevin and I tried a couple of routes up steeper rockbands to the right without success. In the end, we ended up traversing the entire slope to the col.

Unfortunately, the col would prove to be the end of the line. Visibility was low (the summit was completely enveloped in clouds), winds were high, and the temperature had plummeted. Since we couldn’t even see the route up the west ridge and our summit view would have been non-existent, we decided to retreat and return when conditions were better. The descent was easy and uneventful. Overall, a good day out, however, it was extremely frustrating to have such dismal weather conditions, when good ones were forecast. You’d think by now I’d have learned to be a weather pessimist ... apparently not!  

Linda's account:

The West Ridge of Bogart -  Sept 4, 2004
In an unexpected twist, early Saturday morning,  I accompanied Andrew Nugara and Kevin Barton, destined for some vague snowy 'scramble' route up the west ridge of Mt Bogart, as approached from the Spray Lakes side of things. Umm...what?!  I had been dreaming about a multi-peak day on my way out, but snowy conditions were chasing those ideas away quickly. In truth, I was relieved to be doing any kind of summit attempt.
From Spray Lake, we made our way up the long valley to Sparrowhawk tarns, and encountered punishing deadfall for a nasty stretch (take the left fork, not the right). Then there was the three boulder fields, snow covered for our  entertainment. Later, the snowy meadows, complete with upright alpine flowers, and verdant-edged streams, were peaceful contrasts to what we had just crossed. Looking in the direction of our objective, impenetrable cloud hid any view of Mt. Bogart.
The snow deepened and it became apparent we were tracing the descent route of a grizzly bear. Wait..make that three grizzlies. They traversed the high and steep pass between the mountains from the Ribbon Creek area to head towards Spray Lake. It was an awe-inspiring and humbling moment for me. And it must have inspired a little fear, for a three-bear nightmare
was to plague me later.
At the tarns, a polar wind whipped, and we began the steep ascent along  the rock wall. The angle of the snowslope we were traversing continued to increase at an alarming rate, until at its most inclined point, it crossed above a soaring cliffband...oh good. We attempted to bypass this treacherous slope by climbing a gully of odd rock steps. These turned out to be deceivingly loose and steep.  We abandoned that route cautiously.
Then the enterprising Kevin Barton raced up the next gully, by himself, to check out its potential.  I was impressed by his unbridled sense of exploration; it was, afterall, his idea to do this route solo today. Now the poor guy had me tagging along. Fortunately, Kevin also is a good natured person, and seemed to be having fun the entire time we were getting blasted by early winter. He scrambled up steep and icy rock steps, and then out of sight. Snow began to come out of the sky in sheets as Andrew and I waited for good news.
I have never met a person with such a passion for  the mountains as Andrew.  Also very adventurous, he was more than a little excited to try this uncommon route to Bogart. The adventure even applied to his boots this day...worn out by this summer's hectic pace, they were held together with duct tape, and he crossed the slippery slope with this questionable traction material. Thankfully he made it...I don't know where else I would find a scramble partner who, though easily  twice as fast as myself, is content to meander up a peak and enjoy what it has to offer at my snail pace.
After a tense and longer  than expected wait, the happy sight of Kevin clambering back down greeted us, and we made the decision- treacherous snow slope it is! We ascended to a col between higher points on the ridge, and full-blown winter was unleashed. I felt my fingers chill through two layers of gloves, and my ice-stung face numbing. Over the other side, a fabulous frosty  though limited view of the Ribbon Creek valley and Mt. Kidd (the site of an earlier whiteout adventure this year) was revealed. Glancing towards Mt Bogart, the west ridge was visible but the upper portion of the route and the summit block remained shrouded in the densest part of the storm. Winds and snow particles hammered us on the side of the col as we took a quick break; still it was warmer than the ridge.
We made the wise decision to turn around, for later when we looked back at where we had been, the cloud level had dropped to envelope much of the slope. At the lower elevations, snowfall turned to a persistent drizzle. Surprisingly, we encountered several people on this tarn trail out 'enjoying' the day, including an off-route scrambler in running shoes and sweat pants. Andrew led us directly to a superhighway of a trail, which naturally led us nowhere near deadfall and straight back to the parking lot. (Where are those trails when you're going up?) Back in Calgary, the sun was shining, flowers blooming, and the city oblivious to the events in the mountains. It always seems like a dream. ~


Looking back towards the Spray Lake area and Goat Mountain Range (photo by Linda)



Kevin and Linda approaching Sparrowhawk Tarns; the ascent route we took went up the snow slope going up and to the left, starting just right of centre


Bear footprints


Kevin and I looking up to something (?) (photo by Linda)


Kevin and I again; the summit of Bogart is behind the clouds, in the centre of the picture (photo by Linda)


A wintery look at one of the tarns, with Read's Tower in the centre


Linda and Kevin, traversing the snow slope towards the col


Kevin looking for a route up steep rockbands


Me, traversing the slope, with some very high and steep rock walls behind (photo by Linda)


At the col, looking along the west ridge towards the summit; it's there somewhere!!


Kevin doing a little bouldering

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