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Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge


Postby ChrisW » Wed May 04, 2016 10:22 pm

Date walked: 04/05/2016

Time taken: 4

Distance: 9.6 km

Ascent: 739m

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Where does the time go? It's hard to believe my last posted hike was 2 months ago. A lovely family visit from my son, daughter in law and grandson accounts for a couple of weeks, then there is the usual melancholy period that follows when they go home, a period where it's difficult to get interested in much at all. I did a lot of mountain biking and made a few local hikes that failed to lift the mood so decided on a short road trip to blow off the cobwebs. After a week roaming our neighbouring province of British Columbia and getting some great shots of my first bear of the year I began this week with the spirits lifted.

​As the temperatures soared again to a record setting 27C I made my way out to Porcupine Ridge just off highway 40 in Kananaskis Country. To locate the off road parking, take highway 40 south for 25km from junction 118 of the Trans-Canada highway, at the 25km mark a small dirt trail leads off the east side of the road a short distance to a parking area.

After calling my brother to wish him happy birthday I meandered off, finally arriving at the trailhead around lunchtime (there's no need to hurry now as sunset is well past 9pm) The downside of the late start is the heat of the sun which, on exiting the truck, was already hot enough for me and still a few hours from it's peak.

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Even with the oppressive heat it felt good to be back in the mountains and I took my time 'booting up' as I sat on the tailgate soaking in the scenery. The early part of the hike is made alongside Porcupine Creek which is a tiny little body of water running along in the void created by the floods of 2013. It's good going on hard flat ground and I'm soon looking back at the sandstone bars of Mt Lorette guarding the parking area.

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The creek gradually narrows and squeezes into a canyon where a slight breeze picks up a little of the cool air from the creek and brushes it across exposed areas bringing some relief from the heat of the day.

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The creek meanders along swinging left and right and requiring numerous crossings along the way as the walls close in beside the water. It's no problem to cross as the creek is narrow and bears plenty of boulders at midway points, the shade on the east side is so wonderfully cool it becomes a chore to leave it and cross back to the west when required.

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Eventually I reach the split in the creek where the north and south forks meet as they round the ridge I'm seeking today. I first came here in winter and with no trail to follow couldn't find the 'obvious path' referred to in my guide book (though the scene is now much changed due to the floods of 2013) I walked too far on the south fork that day and left myself a really hard scramble as a result.

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With the trees and surrounding vegetation washed away by the floods the route is now easy to find and though not 'well trodden' it remains obvious and very direct as it rises up the end of the ridge without a single switchback to ease the burden.

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The only upside of that wicked direct ascent is the fact that I am very quickly high enough to look down on the creek below and across the canyon to Mt Lorette and Skogan Peak

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After that steep initial ascent it's nice to hit a more gentle undulating ridge with forested tops that provide some welcome shade as the mercury rises still further. The early part of the route ahead is now obvious, a short hop through forest to the exposed rocky ridge then an open section to the pinnacle rising above the forest.

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It is not as gentle an ascent to the top of the pinnacle as it first appears and the heat of the day really starts to sap my energy. I'm not a sun worshipper, don't get me wrong I like a bright clear day but if it stayed at 5C permanently it would suit me just fine.

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at the top of the pinnacle is a narrow flat pathway beside a steep rockwall that affords views forward to the east and to the right (south) to Wasootch Ridge and beyond. The final pinnacles are now visible ahead though a descent back into forest is required to reach them.

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I seriously considered calling it a day at this point, the thought of that descent and reascent to reach the final pinnacles didn't do much for me I must confess. I even took a 'final' summit shot looking over Wasootch Ridge and the multiple tops of Mt McDougall beyond.

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I took a few minutes rest for the first time today and soaked up those wonderful views. The light green spring growth in the valley below punctured by those towering grey summits one after another is something quite extraordinary. The blue waters of Barrier Lake peeking around the corner on the right and the last remnants of snow clinging to the tallest peaks on the left complete the scene perfectly.

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The rest must have done me some good as I made the easy scramble down to the col, crossed back into forest and reascended to the ridge beyond and soon found myself looking back over the open ridge and now distant little summit.

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To the north I think I can see a route along the north fork of Porcupine Creek and up through a long run-off to Mt Bryant 4, this is very interesting for me as I've not yet climbed any of the widely spread summits of Mt Bryant, this is another one to add to my list.

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As I make the final ridge it is a really enjoyable gnarly rock hike that requires repeated easy scrambles to make the steps along the way. The first large pinnacle is not accessible without climbing gear, there is a tasty little ridge leading across to it which I went over to check for access but (though this image doesn't show it well) the vertical at the end of the ridge holds too much risk for unsecured scrambling.

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To the left of the pinnacle (east side) is a long drop off that appears to prevent a sneak round the back approach so from my perspective that's it for this one.

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The previous 2 images stitched together give a nice indication of the wonderful view I had from this point.

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The ridge does continue on a little further so I decide to keep going on to the high point there. The decision was made mainly because it involves some more easy scrambling with a little exposure thrown in.

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After enjoying the scramble I am now at the end of the line looking back over to that first pinnacle where you can clearly see the overhang and vertical climb that makes it unwise to attempt without ropes.

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I found myself a nice 'tuck in' spot with a bit of shade where I could take a long rest out of the sunshine. When I got up to leave I was struck again by just how beautiful it is in Kananaskis. The seemingly endless mountains disappearing over the horizon are a spectacle I will never grow tired of seeing.

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Eventually I have to call it a day and head back down, from here I can see the route back to the trailhead. I confess I'm absolutely drained, probably a combination of heat and lack of hill fitness but whatever it is the route home looks a long way today.

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It really did feel like a very long walk to the cool air in the canyon holding the south fork of Porcupine Creek and once there I found myself slumping down on a cold rock and taking another long break even though I am now close to the trailhead.

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Back at the truck I sat on the tailgate and removed the boots and socks, dangling my bare feet off the back of the tailgate never felt so good. This really did feel like hard work today but enjoyable all the same, and I have to say it felt good to be back out there.

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ChrisW
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby scoob999 » Wed May 04, 2016 10:45 pm

Just stunning Chris 8) was beginning to wonder where you'd got to, forgot your family was coming over though and I'm sure they had a great time :D

Not much snow by the looks of things ? you must've had a mild winter..

Looking forward to reading your upcoming walks :D

ATB

Scoob & Fi
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu May 05, 2016 12:36 pm

The only good thing about being away from the hills/mountains is just how good it is when you return :D I must agree with the 5C all the time, no fan of hot weather myself.
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby Mal Grey » Thu May 05, 2016 1:16 pm

That landscape is truly fantastic, and so much choice of interesting scrambly routes. Thanks for a great report, as always.
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby Alteknacker » Thu May 05, 2016 3:36 pm

Good to see you back in authorial flow again, Chris.

"The seemingly endless mountains disappearing over the horizon are a spectacle I will never grow tired of seeing." All I can say is: pretty good to enjoy 2nd hand reading your reports!

Truly you live in a wonderful place! (Mind you, I was in Torridon last week, and was saying to myself the same thing about UK!!!)
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby mamoset » Thu May 05, 2016 7:11 pm

Some cracking pics there Chris, weather looks fantastic too 8)
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby trailmasher » Thu May 05, 2016 7:14 pm

Welcome back Chris :) and I'm sure that you'll soon get hill fit again :wink: Great report and images as usual :clap: and 23 degrees in May :crazy: Just a pity that you couldn't make the final pinnacle :( but when in doubt... Well done :clap:
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby dav2930 » Thu May 05, 2016 9:44 pm

A showcase of magnificent mountain scenery as ever Chris; but phew, 27C is definitely too hot for strenuous activity - and barely into May :shock: !

That final pinnacle makes the In Pinn look like a walk in the park; I can see why you decided it was out of bounds for a solo scrambler. Maybe you could teach Sarah some belaying techniques and go back with a rope between you? :wink: :lol:
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby ChrisW » Thu May 05, 2016 11:39 pm

scoob999 wrote:Just stunning Chris 8) was beginning to wonder where you'd got to, forgot your family was coming over though and I'm sure they had a great time :D

Not much snow by the looks of things ? you must've had a mild winter..

Looking forward to reading your upcoming walks :D

ATB

Scoob & Fi

Cheers Scoob, winter is over..and strangely has been since the end of Feb :shock: it's been an odd year :crazy:

johnkaysleftleg wrote:The only good thing about being away from the hills/mountains is just how good it is when you return :D I must agree with the 5C all the time, no fan of hot weather myself.

Cheers JK, the heat on this one seemed really oppressive mate, maybe because it got up to 27 really quickly rather than over a few days/weeks, I really did feel it :roll:

Mal Grey wrote:That landscape is truly fantastic, and so much choice of interesting scrambly routes. Thanks for a great report, as always.

Thanks Mal, I'm spoiled for choice out here that's for sure :wink:

Alteknacker wrote:Good to see you back in authorial flow again, Chris.

"The seemingly endless mountains disappearing over the horizon are a spectacle I will never grow tired of seeing." All I can say is: pretty good to enjoy 2nd hand reading your reports!

Truly you live in a wonderful place! (Mind you, I was in Torridon last week, and was saying to myself the same thing about UK!!!)

Cheers Alteknacker, Torrindon really is stunning, wouldn't it be awesome to have it go on for 1000km or so :crazy:

mamoset wrote:Some cracking pics there Chris, weather looks fantastic too 8)

Cheers Mamoset, the weather has been spectacular since March but has recently caused so me pretty horrific forest fires here :(

trailmasher wrote:Welcome back Chris :) and I'm sure that you'll soon get hill fit again :wink: Great report and images as usual :clap: and 23 degrees in May :crazy: Just a pity that you couldn't make the final pinnacle :( but when in doubt... Well done :clap:

Thanks TM, that pinnacle is definitely one for a rope and a friend in accompaniment, as for that heat it was 27 mate...too bloody hot for this hiking lark I reckon :lol:

dav2930 wrote:A showcase of magnificent mountain scenery as ever Chris; but phew, 27C is definitely too hot for strenuous activity - and barely into May :shock: !

That final pinnacle makes the In Pinn look like a walk in the park; I can see why you decided it was out of bounds for a solo scrambler. Maybe you could teach Sarah some belaying techniques and go back with a rope between you? :wink: :lol:


Cheers Dav, that heat was too much mate, I felt sick at some points during the hike :sick: I might ask Sarah if she's up for it as she was asking about the ridge and how for she could get along it :think: ....then again she might be more of a hazard than a help :lol:
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby Chris Mac » Fri May 06, 2016 10:58 am

Cracking photo's of an unbelievable landscape yet again Chris, makes our hills look like wee diddy Tumps by comparison... :clap:
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby ChrisW » Mon May 09, 2016 6:10 pm

Chris Mac wrote:Cracking photo's of an unbelievable landscape yet again Chris, makes our hills look like wee diddy Tumps by comparison... :clap:


Cheers Chris, the place is a picture postcard in every direction ... photography has never been so easy :lol:
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby A Drunken Taffer » Tue May 10, 2016 8:28 am

Some absolutely stunning photographs here Chris. Very Envious! Keep it up!
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby past my sell by date » Wed May 11, 2016 6:39 pm

Another stunning hike Chris and pictures to match. The limestone has clearly not been ground down by ice as it has in Switzerland - and the altitude the trees climb to is higher I think. My two enduring memories of my time in BC are Pine trees and Hamburgers :lol: :lol:
I don't suppose you've done Mt. Sir Donald that fabulous triangular peak above the Rogers Pass. Friends of mine did it and I was keen to have a go - you need a rope , but the quartzite ridge is not hard - another thing I missed out on
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Re: Canada - Feeling the heat on Porcupine Ridge

Postby ChrisW » Thu May 12, 2016 5:31 am

A Drunken Taffer wrote:Some absolutely stunning photographs here Chris. Very Envious! Keep it up!

Cheers ADT, I'm taking a break by the sea next week so there'll be a gap for a bit :wink:

past my sell by date wrote:Another stunning hike Chris and pictures to match. The limestone has clearly not been ground down by ice as it has in Switzerland - and the altitude the trees climb to is higher I think. My two enduring memories of my time in BC are Pine trees and Hamburgers :lol: :lol:
I don't suppose you've done Mt. Sir Donald that fabulous triangular peak above the Rogers Pass. Friends of mine did it and I was keen to have a go - you need a rope , but the quartzite ridge is not hard - another thing I missed out on


Thanks PMSBD, I think the treeline is higher here, I remember reading of a substantial difference between east and west coast ranges when I live in the USA. There's one thing for sure, if you want to reach a peak around here you'll be thrashing through a pine forest for some considerable time before getting there :lol: I've not done Sir Donald, funnily enough I was up in Rogers Pass just a week or so ago but everywhere was still shut down with avalanche potential (though I did make a nice little hike to Bear Creek Falls) I've been toying with the idea of a rope, began considering it last season but I think it might make me more inclined to dodgy stuff :lol:
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