July 28, 2011
Total elevation gain: approximately 1000 m
Roundtrip time: 10 hours
After getting a pretty decent look at two of Glacier National Parks more striking mountain, Kinnerly and Long Knife, from the summit of Kishinena peak several days earlier, I wanted a closer look. The closest scramble to the mountains in questions is Akamina Ridge. Looking at the top map, it appeared that extending the Akamina trip further west to several unnamed highpoints seemed quite feasible. Further investigation revealed not only was it feasible, but the trip was well documented in Mike Potter’s Ridgewalks – that certainly takes the guess work out of life! Instead of unnamed peaks at GR097347 and GR073337 I will further to the two major highpoints of the trip as “Akamina West”.
With even further extension of the trip also a possibility, I decided to forgo an ascent of Akamina Ridge itself, although the effort would have been totally worthwhile, given the incredibly scenic nature of that trip. Instead I hiked directly to Wall Lake and then headed for Bennett Pass. Above Wall Lake I was stunned to see vast snowfields covering the valley. Of course this added tremendously to the already impressive scenery and so I left the trail, in favour of the firm snow.
Originally I intended to make a sharp right at the end of the valley and find the Bennett Pass Trail again, but more interesting visual opportunities soon arose. The impossibly steep-looking red argillite scree slope at the end of valley suddenly looked not so impossibly steep. In fact the angle was relatively gentle. This route would take me to the far west end of Akamina Ridge and would require some additional elevation gain, but the rewards seemed to outweigh the extra effort (they always do!).
Turns out the gully was brutally tedious to ascend. I took the scree route in order to get close to several colourful pinnacles, but in retrospect sticking on the crampons and running up the snow would have much faster and more fun. Nevertheless the scenery was splendid. Atop the ridge I was greeted with my first close-up look at peaks I came to see. Beautiful they were, although the somewhat cloudy situation was a little disappointing.
The remainder of the trip unfolded exactly as described by Mr. Potter. The first summit was actually the highest point of the trip though not the most visually rewarding. That honour definitely went to the final highpoint of the day at GR073337. Along the way the route was replete with beautiful scenes of snow, rock, small but colourful lakes, and of course awe-inspiring peaks. The snowy faces of the Glacier Park peaks provided a wonderful contrast to their multi-coloured, snow-free counterparts, north of the border in Waterton.
Unfortunately an extension of this extension of Akamina Ridge appeared to be fraught with difficulties. Even without the apparent cliffbands rendering the route a no-go, the time and energy required to go further would have required a bivouac; with plenty of signs of bear activity in the area, no thanks!
For the return trip I did to the stick to the Bennett Pass trail (at least for the parts that weren’t buried in half a metre of snow), thoroughly enjoying some different scenery than on my ascent route.
An excellent day and terrific route by Mike Potter.
Wall Lake, with Akamina Ridge above
The Bennett Pass Trail valley; I went up the scree slope right of centre
Deeper into the valley
The snow/scree slope I went up
Interesting rock atop the scree slope
Same as above
Looking back down to Wall Lake. The peaks in the background are Alderson (centre), Carthew (left of centre) and Buchanan Ridge (further left)
Approaching the ridge
Not much of a photo, but I like the lines
The steep northeast face of Akamina Ridge
The first view of Long Knife Peak
The first highpoint (far left) of Akamina West
The next section of Akamina West
The far end of the ridge
Lots of ups and downs
Mount Kinnerly in the background
The highpoint of Kishinena Ridge lies further west of Akamina West
A curious free-standing wall of rock below Long Knife Peak
King Edward Peak
Looking back to the first highpoint and part of the Blakiston Horseshoe at the left
The best view of Long Knife Peak
Looking back along the ridge
Charming Ashman Lake
More scenic ridgewalking
The Blakiston Horseshoe
Summit view to the east
Summit view to the west
King Edward again
Same as above
Same as above
Terrific contrasting colours were a feature of this trip
Mount Cleveland makes an appearance, just right of centre
Last look at the ridge, Kinnerly, and Long Knife
Same as above, with a little more
The unnamed lake below Bennett Pass
A very pleasant scene along Bennett Pass Trail
Looking up to Akamina Ridge
Another wonderfully colourful scene
Back at Wall Lake