Cat Creek Knob and Cat Creek Ridge  

November 9, 2008

Mountain heights:                               2370 m, 2566 m
Total elevation gain:                           approx. 1100 m
Ascent time to Cat Creek Knob:         3:00
Traverse time to Cat Creek Ridge:     3:15
Descent time:                                      2:45

Scrambling and a little mountaineering with Mark.

Sometimes I question if all the climbing gear we typically carry with us on practically every trip is overkill. For example, on the previous week’s trip up Barnaby Ridge we took crampons, ice axes, a rope, harnesses, slings, and several cams - we didn’t use any of it. Then a day, such as this one, comes along to remind me that it’s always better to carry too much than not enough.

Our intended objective was “Jeri”, the unnamed GR south of Tiara Peak. Mark and I had ascended the peak via its south aspect a year earlier and wanted to try it via the steeper north face. However, we arrived at the Powderface Trail to find it was off limits for the day because of a Rally Race. 

I didn’t have his route descriptions with me, but recalled that Bob Spirko had ascended one or two GR’s in the vicinity of Cat Creek and so that’s where we went instead. I also recalled some mention of a cliff-band interrupting progress from the lower summit (Cat Creek Knob) to the higher one (Cat Creek Ridge). As such, we armed ourselves with exactly the same climbing gear we carried up and down Barnaby Ridge.

The approach hike was nothing special, but at least was on a good trail that would be easy to follow, should we be returning in the dark. The scenery improved dramatically as we left the confines of the creek, onto the open, grassy slopes of Cat Creek Knob. An easy and very pleasant ridgewalk brought us to the summit of Cat Creek Knob. Views toward the south end of Lineham Creek Peaks, Serendipity Peak, Patterson’s Peak, and Mount Head were terrific. A very ominous wall of thick clouds enveloped mountains of the Continental Divide to the west, but the clouds remained there throughout the day and didn’t threaten to join us in the east.   

Getting down to the col between Cat Creek Knob and Cat Creek Ridge was fraught with difficulties. Searching for a weakness in the cliffs on the east side yielded nothing but dead-ends (actually severe drop-offs!) and so we followed the sometimes narrow ridge until it too ended in a drop-off. Much of the ridge was snow-covered and crampons and some rope work were essential to negotiate the terrain. Unable to find a good anchor to set up a rappel, we tried to circumvent the drop-off by going down steep slopes on the west side. Mark led the way and was able to descend to a lone tree on the slope. The tree provided a perfect anchor to set up a rappel to get down the most dangerous section. We then hiked back up to the ridge and down the other side on easy slopes to the col. The effort, barely covering a horizontal distance of 400 metres, took us 2 full hours, making use of all the gear we had except the cams.   

The remainder of the ascent to Cat Creek Ridge was not only easy, but very scenic as well. The area surrounding Cat Creek is a beautifully aesthetic combination of grassy and treed hills, colourful, lichen-covered rock, narrow ridges, and numerous striking peaks.

After taking in the wonderful view from the summit, we started down. The descent started with horribly tedious rubble, which soon gave way to grassy slopes that couldn’t have been easier and more enjoyable to descend. A long hike via the wide trail ended the day and though the sun had long since set, a full moon did offer was some light and we were able to leave the headlamps in our backpacks.

An excellent day out, but next time we’ll leave those pesky cams at home!  

Clouds consume Mounts Strachan (left) and Muir (right)

Mount McPhail to the left


               Mount Loomis (centre)  and it's outliers

Mark (lower right)  ascends the grassy slopes of Cat Creek Knob

On the ridge 

Hiking up the ridge; Cat Creek Ridge to the right

Looking at Cat Creek Ridge

Same as above

Same as above, with a northern outlier of Mount Head at the right

Mark at the summit of Cat Creek Knob

The first of the ridge towards Cat Creek Ridge 

Looking back at the ridge; I went looking for a weakness in the cliffs to the left and didn't find one; I'm barely visible near the lower left

Looking up at Mark (left) on the ridge; Cat Creek Ridge to the right

Traversing the ridge to find a way down to the col

The outlier of Head was very photogenic, given half of it was in shadow

Mark prepares to traverse a narrow section of the ridge

My turn to downclimb the next exposed section; thankfully, there were several solid hand-holds

A cloud forms over the outlier

More interesting clouds, as I rappel from the tree above

Serendipity Peak (centre) and the highest peak of ht of Serendipity)

A fin of rock

Finally on easy slopes to the col

Holy Cross Mountain is now visible to the right

Getting rid of the the crampons and climbing gear for the ascent of Cat Creek Ridge (left)

Starting up

More of the ascent

Same as above

Rock, snow, and blue sky - always an unbeatable combination

Same as above, with Lineham Creek Peak to the right

Mark at the summit

Mark surveys the maze of ridges to the north of Cat Creek Ridge

The view to the south

The summit block of Mount Head

Patterson's Peak (right)

On descent, looking back at Cat Creek Ridge