Cox HIll - no details, diary only

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Date walked: 08/02/2015
Distance: 10.4km
Ascent: 620m
Views: 8

Prairie Creek Circuit - no detail, diary only

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Date walked: 03/02/2015
Distance: 14.2km
Ascent: 494m
Views: 9

Canyon Creek Ice Cave - no detail, diary only

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Date walked: 30/01/2015
Distance: 15.4km
Ascent: 298m
Views: 11

Canada - Ha Ling Peak - Canmore - Alberta

Date walked: 27/01/2015

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 6.2km

Ascent: 739m

It has been almost a year since I last posted a 'new' hike from Canada, I've actually only made about 5 'new' hikes in that time, the rest have been repeats of previous hikes. I found myself enjoying most of the 2014 early season back home in London & Birmingham on a contract. When I returned Sarah and I went off to the east coast of Canada for a few weeks and hiked the wonderful Skyline Trail in Cape Breton National Park (among other things) Might post it as a catch up :wink:

Anyway, here it my latest effort, very early season owing to several weeks of warm temperatures and lack of snowfall :thumbup: ....

It's hard to believe that it's winter as I set out to Canmore to ascend Ha Ling Peak. Temperatures are at 10 degrees as I swing into the car park on highway 742 (Smith Dorrien Trail) at Whitemans Gap. Parking is in the well appointed and well signed "Goat Creek" parking lot.

The Peak I am aiming for today is named after a local Chinese cook who who, in 1896, was bet the princely sum of $50 that he couldn't make the ascent and return within 10 hours. He left Canmore at 07:00 with a small flag to place at the summit, he was back in town by noon. Nobody believed him and the small flag couldn't be seen from the town, so on the next day he led a group of his doubters back up to the summit where the little flag was still flying. This time he placed a much larger flagpole and a flag that could be seen from the town with the naked eye. The peak was actually named "Chinamans Peak" , a name which was officially recognised in 1980. It wasn't until 1998 that the derogatory term was changed and Ha Ling finally got the Kudos he deserved for making that ascent from the town with no trails at all.

I didn't make the ascent from the town of Canmore, I made it from the Goat Creek parking area which was an absolute ice rink and I needed the micros on as soon as I stepped out of the truck. I was soon ready to roll and walking back across the road and up the steep bank toward the canal with a last look back at that ice rink I'd parked on.
On reaching the canal it is a very short hop to the footbridge over the water which is remarkably ice free. Once across the bridge and along the bank for a short length the trail begins behind the double telegraph poles at the bottom of the obvious slope.
The ascent is a punishing grind from the car park to the summit, I think perhaps one of the worst in Kananaskis, thankfully it is only 3.1km in length but the gradient is absolutely unrelenting throughout. A local woman I met on the way down (as she was ascending) said "if you can find a 2 metre level spot anywhere on this trail you've done well" I have to admit I had similar thoughts on the ascent but mine involved more swearing.

Only occasionally does the heavily forested trail open out to provide a distraction from the grind, here the east end of Mt Rundle is visible on the right of shot and on the left a glimpse of the Goat Range on the opposite side of the road.
A little further along the trail I stop again to capture a decent shot of the Goat Range from "Goatview Peak" looking north. Following highway 742 along here to the north brings you to Canmore in just a few minutes.
The grind through forested slopes continues until you are almost at the saddle between Ha Ling Peak and Miners Peak where the trees finally stop, unfortunately the well packed ice trail has turned into a not so well packed snow trail here, the ascent is steeper (aren't they always as you near the summit) I stop again and grab a shot of Mt Norquay which is now visible between the Goat Range and Mt Rundle.
onwards and upwards toward the saddle, the shot below shows a local making her way down toward me. When we met she told me that she had almost blown over the top and that I should be careful. There was a stiff breeze blowing since I left the trees but it was nothing compared to the hurricane hitting the upper slopes.
As I reach the saddle I am immediately made aware of that wind, it is freezing cold and almost knocking me off my feet as I crouch low on the ridge to get a lovely shot of the peak and the massive drop on the eastern side. A number of people have supposedly blown over the edge here (though I suspect some were suicides and the 'wind blown accident' makes the grieving process easier) It is entirely possible to blow over if you aren't steady on your feet in this wind, but if you were unsteady would you really be walking here on a windy day......
I begin the final ascent with a freezing wind howling through my beanie so much I had to put up my hood over the top, I walked the ridge but stayed a good couple of feet to the windward side to make sure I had time to drop and grab if I really needed to. The views were fantastic and kept me going toward the pointed ridgetop ahead.
Behind me as I pick my way along the ridge is Miners Peak, to the left is the Bow Valley and the TransCanada Highway heading east to Calgary and beyond. To the right is the Spray Valley and the 72 km logging road (highway 742) that links Canmore to Kananaskis Lakes. Miners Peak itself is actually dwarfed by the exposed peaks of Mt Lawrence Grassi directly behind it. The view is breathtaking and the moon puts in an appearance above the white wave of cloud hanging over the Bow Valley.
As I ascend the final leg of the ridge Mt Lawrence Grassi now dominates the view south and Miners Peak seems little more than a bump along the way. I can now see Old Goat Mountain along the Smith Dorrien trail and even as far as the Sundance Range beyond. Even the contrast of burning thighs and freezing ears can't detract from the most wonderful scenery imaginable.
Finally I make it to that pinnacle like summit and although it's only 2407m (7987 feet) it feels much higher as you look down over Canmore and along the Bow Valley It feels higher still with the wind doing it's best to push me toward/over the edge.
My first attempt at the evidence shot almost saw me take the plunge as a strong gust knocked me sidewards resulting in a shot of me looking like I needed a bathroom break! I composed myself and tried again. Mt Lawrence Grassi still dominates the southern views but the 360 degree views available to me from the pinnacle are spectacular, the town below is an ugly scar on a pristine landscape but even it can't detract from the joy of the hard earned summit.
To the north the horizon bristles with mountains too numerous to name, Mt Rundle (directly ahead) is one I think I'll have a go at this year probably this eastern side on the route known locally as EEOR (not the donkey from winnie the pooh) just an acronym for East End Of Rundle.
The town of Canmore entirely fills the wildlife corridor along the Bow Valley resulting in many bear/human, cougar/human, elk/human issues every year. It is widely seen as a perfect example of how NOT to build a town in such areas. The town itself is absolutely beautiful, a typical mountain town with wondrous views all around, great shops, bars and restaurants and a 'must see' location for all visitors to the area. As with the previous shot there are some wonderful cloud shadows chasing along the valley in the late winter sunshine.
After treading every inch of the summit pinnacle in a game of dare with the wind I call it a day and turn around to head back down the way I ascended, but not before taking one more shot of that incredible view to the south. Walking into the wind was almost painful until reaching the treeline where calm returned and the hat, coat and gloves could be removed before the icy trail descent.
Once back on terra firma I stopped on the route home to grab a shot of Ha Ling Peak from a distance as I descended the twisting mountain road back down to Canmore, the shot actually captures that steep ascent route too and gives some idea of the grunt required to make it.

Hats off to Ha Ling, he made this ascent from the town and back in around 5 hours, it took me 4 and I had a good headstart on the guy :)

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Comments: 18

Loder Peak - no detail, diary only

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Date walked: 22/01/2015
Distance: 11.9km
Ascent: 918m
Views: 9

Grotto Canyon - no details, diary only

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Date walked: 20/01/2015
Distance: 10.4km
Ascent: 340m
Views: 11

Grotto Again - no details, diary only

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Date walked: 07/01/2015
Distance: 10.4km
Ascent: 340m
Views: 10

Canada - Mockingbird Fire Lookout - Alberta

Date walked: 01/05/2014
Distance: 5.6km
Ascent: 354m
Comments: 6
Views: 636

USA - Roan Mountain (The Appalachian Balds)

Date walked: 13/04/2014
Distance: 8.3km
Ascent: 350m
Comments: 12
Views: 544

Canada - Prairie & Powderface Circuit

Date walked: 18/03/2014
Distance: 14.2km
Ascent: 494m
Comments: 2
Views: 408


User avatar
Location: Calgary - Canada
Occupation: Management Consultant - Semi Retired
Interests: Photography, Walking, Kayaking, Golf, Mountain Biking
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Sutton Arms
Mountain: Mt Rainier - USA
Place: Loch Muick
Gear: Quality footwear
Member: None
Camera: Canon 5D
Ideal day out: Getting up high and seeing the world
Ambition: Get fit - lose weight

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Corbetts: 5
Grahams: 3
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