Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Canadian Rockies

Steven Song
 
Maligne Canyon (2012.3.25)
Mar 25, 2012

Bald Hills would not make a full day by any means, so I had plenty of time to do other activities. M ...more

y mom was exhausted by the ascent of Folding Mountain the previous day so she didn't come with me on Bald Hills. I thought I could lead her up Opal Hills with a possible ascent of Opal Peak however the approach trail is far worse than I expected. We had to post-hole right at the parking lot... So instead of challenging ourselves, we decided to visit Maligne Canyon. This is my second time here, and the ice is thawing and the trail is muddy and slippery. We walked to the 5th bridge, and walked back via Maligne Road because we didn't want to do the entire muddy thing again.

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Steven Song
 
Chester Lake (2012.2.12)
Feb 12, 2012

After the epic 5hr 50min finish of Burstall Pass Peak, I drove across the Smith Dorrien Road to Ches ...more

ter Lake Parking lot. I still had 3.5 hours of daylight time, which is enough for me tick Chester Lake off my to-do list. Well, I still had to come back to this lake for Little Galatea, Mt. Galatea, Gusty Peak, The Fortress, and Mt. Chester though.
Similar to Burstall Pass Trail, Chester Lake Trail is well packed down so I didn't need to snowshoe-up. I carried my snowshoes pretty much all the way to the lake. The difference is, this trail is quite steep compared with the much gentler grade of Burstall Pass Trail. My mom couldn't catch up my pace as long as the trail gets steep. There's a large meadow area before the lake. It's hard to distinguish them in winter if you hadn't been to this area before. The lake is right at the base of Mt. Chester's cliff.
I saw a little hump at the other end of the lake, which looks about 50-80m? or so higher than the lake. It's quite doable since I've brought my snowshoes up. On the hump, the view to the other direction (towards highway) opens up, and I could see Mt. Birdwood and Mt. Smuts rise behind Chester Lake. It’s my first time seeing Mt. Smuts, the hardest scramble in Kane's book. From this angle, Chester Lake is finally distinguisable from the meadow area. The "summit" cairn is quite small, (smaller than my snowshoe). After a quick panorama, I headed down to re-join my mom at the lake shore. After completing Burstall Pass Peak + Chester Lake, I covered 30km distance with 1100m elevation gain.

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Steven Song
 
Hilda Ridge (2012.2.5)
Feb 5, 2012

The second day of our ACC WIM skill weekend. We drove back to Hilda Creek Parking lot again, with th ...more

e same weather condition as the day before, but this time we were heading to Hilda Ridge and do more skiing. Elliot led the way up, and apparently he let a little bit too fast. I felt a little bit heard to catch his pace at the beginning during warming up period, but after that I didnt' have a problem catching up him. But the rest of the group was far behind, so when we hit the treeline and stop, we waited about 15min for them.
Avalanche was not a problem in this particular day, so we went up higher, to a small outlier on the ridge. We never made to the summit though. Well, it's not a peak bagging trip neither. After that we skied down to met the slower group.
After lunch, we skied back up again. This is what so called yoyo skiing. At a steeper slope, we stopped to dig a snow pit to test the stability of snowpack. It was pretty stable, but I was a bit surprised about the depth of the snow. 10m higher up we could see bare rock, but on this east facing slope, the snow was 2.3m deep. Wind blown and deposition!!!!!
Even though I couldn't ski down fast enough, I did get better and better. The views are amazing towards all directions. I couldn't believe we had two blue bird days with warm temperature in winter in Columbia Icefield Area. Now, I know Vern and So headed up Columbia Icefield via Saskatchewan Glacier the same weekend. They surely got better views than I ;)

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Steven Song
 
Hilda Creek to Parker Ridge Partway (2012.2.4)
Feb 4, 2012

This is the first day of first skill weekend of ACC's Winter in Mountains Course. This is also my fi ...more

rst trip with the Alpine Club. Instead of bagging peaks, we practiced lots of essential skills that are required in winter backcountry travel. In the morning, we drove from Athabasca Hostel to Beauty Creek, just south of Tangle Ridge, to practice beacon search. Now if someone gets caught in an avalanche, I know how to locate him..
Then we drove further south to Hilda Creek Parking Lot. We practiced building snowcave, which definitely will give you a good workout. I think my muscles are more good at perseverance, rather than doing things that required huge strength.
Then we skied towards Parker Ridge, only partway though. We never got higher than the treeline, but we did get excellent views. Then I did my first ever downhill skiing. I felt more like driving downhill on ice. Awkward movements, but anyways I made back to the vehicle. The second day would be way better, both the views and the skiing. I'm catching up fast.

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Steven Song
 
Mount Lady MacDonald Attempt (2011.12.26)
Dec 26, 2011

The most serious climb that I've ever done so far in 2011. Below the treeline, there were signs of c ...more

ougars around, and I was hiking alone. I attempt this mountain two days before, but turned back below the treeline due to seeing a dead goat’s consumed body (I went off route as well). So today I picked up a bear spray and a knife. So at least I have something to fight if a cougar comes. Near the treeline, I had to post-hole a bit on a bouder field, then scramble straight up towards the Tea House. I didn't follow the trail there, since I wanted to avoid the snow as mush as I could. Before reaching Tea House, I had to step-kicking while traversing a corner, and I was too lazy to take out my crampons for that.
From the tea house, it's a straight scree slog to the summit ridge, where the fun parts began.
The scramble grade jumps up two levels abruptly on the Summit Ridge, from easy to difficult. It's indeed difficult. I've experienced some exposed ridge such as Mt. Rundle's Dragon's Back, but compared to Lady Mac's Summit Ridge, it's really for the beginners. The ridge is somewhat bare on west side, but corniced on east side. The first 30m or so wasn't that bad because I had good hand grips with at least one good foot grip. Before reaching the false summit, I had two options, climbing down then up, or climbing over a extremely exposed section with no good hand grips (because of the snow). I chose to down climb a steep slab crack for 20m, with good holds on left foot and left hand, but only friction holds on right hand side. Then things became tricky since the snow became ice there, and I had to crampon-on to reach false summit. It's still about 40m to the true summit, and I continued on the ridge to near 10m away from the summit. There, you have to downclimb a bit, then climb up. This downclimb part is extremely narrow (1 ft at most), with drop-off on both sides. It's okay in summer for sure, but since it's north facing, it's very corniced and icy. In that condition, it's not a scramble and requires some rope works for safety. So instead of taking a chance, I decided to turn back, since scrambling alone means, an injury would probably means death, because no one was gonna help you. This ridge is for sure difficult, but also fun, so I will come back in summer to conquer the entire thing. On the way back, I chose to climb the narrowest section instead of retracing my steps (climbing up the slab crack), to give myself some challenge. It was even worse than what I thought, since it's not only corniced, but also icy. For about 2m, I had to "horse riding" on the ridge, with my centre of gravity on west side. But I had to use my left leg, hanging on east face, to balance and to prevent me sliding down the west slabs. I only had friction grips on my right foot to keep me moving forwards. In summer it would be easier for sure, but anyway I made the way back. When I reached the scree ground, I finally could relax a bit.
Then I saw two people coming up. I really wanted to wait for them to get a picture of the ridge with human on it to show how serious it is, but it was also very windy and freezing cold if you don't move. So I headed down. Very valuable experience and this scramble definitely increases my confidence level about exposure, since it's one of the most exposed ridges described in Kane's book.

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Steven Song
 
Grotto Canyon (2011.12.25)
Dec 25, 2011

When I was back to my car from Heart Mountain, it was only 11:30, but the weather had already moved ...more

in. So instead of bagging another peak in that area, I decided to do a canyon walk, which somewhat doesn’t change much during bad weather if you want the views. I followed two ice climbers to a ice fall (with crampons on my boots), then headed towards the Hoodoos, further up in the valley. I had to take off my crampons because the route was no longer icy, instead it became snowy and rocky. I climbed to a cave at the Hoodoos, which involves some exposed traversing near the top. Guess I just wanted to warm up for tomorrow’s Mt. Lady MacDonald’s summit ridge, which is one of the most exposed scrambles among all the scrambles described in Kane’s book. Because of the snow, the traverse part was even worse, especially on the way back.

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Steven Song
 
Johnston Canyon (2010.3.20)
Mar 20, 2010

We visited Icefield Parkway in winter on the way driving back to Vancouver. I decided to give Johnst ...more

on Canyon a visit, while dad wanted for a nap. I would say the scenery in the canyons in Canadian Rockies is way better in winter than in summer. The ice scenery is just incredible. The downside was, I was hiking wearing backetball shoes, so I fell several times due to the icy trail.
Along with Maligne Canyon and Mistaya Canyon, Johnston Canyon is one of the three most famous canyons in the Rockies. It draws lots of tourists in all time of the year, with no exception on the day I was there. I only continued to the Lower Falls, but there is Upper Falls and Ink Pot further up the canyon that worth a visit too.

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Steven Song
 
Kinney Lake (2009.8.20)
Aug 20, 2009

This was my last hike during our four-day-journey to Canadian Rockies. Kinney Lake is actually the f ...more

irst destination of long a backpack trail. Further up the valley, Berg Lake and Snowbird Pass are the major destinations for most parties. Also, if you wish to approach Mt. Robson on foot, the highest and second most difficult mountain in the Canadian Rockies, you also need to do this trail. The 3000m vertical relief of this giant is the highest and probably the most impressive face in the entire Rocky Mountain. The trail to Kinney Lake is not short, but very flat. Since we wanted to drive back to Vancouver not too late, we did manage to pass most parties along the trail. Once arrive the lake, the reflection of the surrounding mountains including Whitehorn Mountain and Mt. Robson is stunning. I would like to do this trail again in the future to further explore this unique area.
Distance: 14km, Round Trip Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

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Steven Song
 
Plain of Six Glaciers / Big Beehive (2009.8.18)
Aug 18, 2009

This is probably the most famous hike in Canadian Rockies, located at the back side of Lake Louise. ...more

This also offers a good introduction to the alpine glaciated terrain. Staying at valley floor means, you can have different perspectives of the surrounding giants as viewing from one of the summits nearby. At the end of Plain of Six Glaciers Trail, I scrambled up a bit to a little waterfall, to soak in the views towards The Death Trap & Abbot Pass, Mt. Victoria, Mt. Lefroy, and Mt. Fairview. Then we continued towards a small summit called Big Beehive. We got great view down towards Lake Louise and Lake Agnes from the Beehive. I strongly recommend everyone to do this hike as the introductory of Canadian Rockies.
Distance: 17km Elevation Gain: ~800m Round Trip Time: 6 hours

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Steven Song
 
Wapta Falls (2009.8.17)
Aug 17, 2009

This short hike was incorporated into our first day visiting Canadian Rockies. The driving took 9 ho ...more

urs from Vancouver to BC Alberta Border, so we couldn’t do any long hike. Wapta Falls is located in the Western Range in the Rockies. In other words, it’s probably the farthest if approaching from Alberta side. Although short, the scenery was not disappointing at all. We could see Mt. Vaux rises behind the Falls. Mt. Vaux is a difficult to climber’s scramble, and has elevation gain of near 2300m, mostly bushwhacking and scree bashing. I definitely have to try Vaux sometime in the future, and it will definitely push myself to my physical limit.

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Photos taken by Steven