Mount Kidd (North peak) Ė August 27, 2004

Mountain height:     2,958 m (9,702 ft)
Elevation gain:         1,350 m
Ascent time:           
  3:35
Descent time:         
  2:20

Solo scramble.

After our harrowing experience on the north peak of Mount Kidd last December, where we basically tried to ascend a 500 m sheet of ice with snowshoes, I decided a repeat attempt would be made when there was no snow at all on the mountain. One would think that late August would be such a time, but this is the Canadian Rockies and we all know that anything goes here. Fortunately, the snow occurred only near the summit, and was not a factor for the majority of the ascent.

I deliberately left Calgary later than usual, as the forecast was slightly better in the afternoon. Still, even leaving Galatea parking lot at 9:30 am (thatís fairly late for me) turned out to be a good two hourís too early. The skies were generally overcast, as I made up and past the very scenic waterfalls. I was quite surprised at the heavy volume of water pouring down the mountain and even more so when I came across a large patch of melting snow from the previous winter.

Upon starting the long, tedious grind up the main avalanche gully, the clouds really came in, severely limiting visibility above 2,300 m. On the lower section of the avalanche gully I found quite a few places, on the left side, to avoid the scree and rubble and get in some surprisingly decent hands-on scrambling. Here, for the first time in my scrambling days, I slowed my pace down considerably, to allow the weather time to clear. I think I actually found it more difficult to hike slowly than fast Ė patience is obviously not my strong suit when scrambling alone. This strategy did not pay off and eventually I was above the fast moving clouds and in whiteout type conditions. By the time I made it to the ridge, fresh snow from the previous week of miserable weather, made it an official whiteout. Although frustrating to be denied a great view of the surrounding area, it was quite interesting to be in a whiteout on this relatively low mountain, at this time of the year.

Once on the ridge, the summit was only a 5 or so minutes away and I sat down at the cairn (with two golf clubs sticking out of it) to admire a beautiful view of the only thing I could see Ė a shapely and awe-inspiring telecommunications station Ė wow! The wind was strong up there and the temperature had plummeted considerably. Even after putting on all four layers of my clothing, I was still shivering, as I sat there in the whiteout, hoping that the clouds would clear. My patience paid off and 45 minutes after arriving at the summit, a strip of blue sky suddenly appeared. Although the sky didnít ever clear completely, for the next 30 minutes I was treated to a spectacular show as clouds engulfed the summit and then quickly moved on, revealing a stunning panorama. Most interesting was the eye-catching contrast of the greens and browns of Mount Allan and Collembola against the stark gray of Wind Mountain and Mount Lougheed. Mount Bogart tried in vain to emerge from the clouds, but I never did get a good look at the entire summit.

After a lengthy and very enjoyable stay at the summit, I started the easy and straightforward descent. This was a dream compared to our nightmarish descent of December, where Mark had to belay me down the icy slope 10 m at a time, because one of my snowshoes had come off and slid down the mountain without me on the way up. Overall, a pretty terrific scramble. I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful scenery enroute to the summit, some good hands-on terrain, and a magnificent summit panorama. Iíll definitely be dragging Mark up this one again.

The smaller upper waterfalls and the beginning of the ascent gully

 

At the ridge, looking towards the summit (in the clouds)

 

A self-timed picture at the summit cairn; yep....it's a whiteout!

 

The sun trying to break through the clouds

 

A rainbow and Mounts Allan (left) and Collembola (right)

 

The fourth peak of Mount Lougheed (left), Wind Mountain, and Mount Allan (right)

 

Looking back at the summit ridge and my two sets of footprints!

 

Fisher peak (snow covered at the left) and The Wedge

 

More great waterfall scenery on the way down

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