Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Heart Mountain Scramble

 It's hard to figure out what to do during the off-season without subjecting yourself to some serious discomfort. It is too cold to climb, too wet to bike, and not snowy enough to ski. To get our mountain fix this week, we settled for some good old-fashioned hiking near Canmore. The forecast was bleak, so we slept in a bit longer than we had planned before loading up the car and heading out. The theme of the day (for me at least) was disorganization. I realized at the trail-head that my mountaineering boot insoles were still in my hiking boots from the summer, and I had forgotten a few pieces of gear (like my ice ax). It would have been easy to just get back in the car and head home, but we were there already and the mountains were calling!
Sign at the bottom of the trail for Heart Mountain
Neither Kyle nor I had done this scramble before, and the book wasn't very specific on where the trail was, so after one wrong turn, we were on our way up the mountain. We were alone the whole time, which was quite nice, and although it was overcast, we had pretty decent view for the first part of the hike. As we ascended, the clouds got thicker and the temperature dropped. We kept looking for what was supposed to be a well marked step up onto the ridge for the final bit of the scramble, but managed to miss it. Instead, we continued up below the ridge, looking for somewhere else we could climb up to the summit.
Kyle looking for a way up to the ridge, no snow yet!
We thought that we found a way up but the rock was wet and a fall would have been pretty bad because of the steep scree below us. We almost turned back but decided to do some exploring farther up the slope since it was still pretty early in the day. Kyle found a rocky gully and we scrambled up that and were able to easily top out near the summit!
Snowy at the top
At this point, it had started to snow and was accumulating quickly. We wandered around up on top looking for the true summit, which was hard to find due to the white out we found ourselves in. I am still not quite sure if we actually were on the summit, but according to Google Earth, it looked like we were there! We had a quick bite to eat and decided to return down the way we had come up instead of trying to find the trail in the snow that was falling fast.
I think we found the actual summit
The descent was quick and we found the step that we had missed on the way up. It actually was well marked but much smaller than expected. The whole hike took us about 5 hours, including all our messing around. It was a great way to spend a day and check out a new spot, especially since we found our own way up.
The GPS track of our hike starting at the top
Descending the drainage in the snow
Looking up the gully
Snow in the valley as we made our way back to the car

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