Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Twin Cairns

In the second day of my Christmas adventure, I decided to do a real snowshoe objective, that is, Twin Cairns. It is one of the must-do objectives of skiers and snowshoe-ers. I had no idea how fast I can walk with the snowshoes especially when post-holing on the unsupportive snow, so I decided to take a gondola ride to Sunshine Village, to save the 6.5km boring hike with 500m elevation gain. This also saved me lots of time, in other words, without taking the gondola, I probably wouldn’t summit Wawa Ridge nor Mt. Standish. Sunshine Village, one of the three ski areas in Banff National Park, is one of the most frequently visited ski paradises in Canada, and probably, in the world. Indeed, I saw hundreds of skiers on that day, but few of them ventured into backcountry. To get to Twin Cairns, I had to snowshoe up directly beneath Wawa Chair Lift, and then cross the backcountry border. After venturing into backcountry, the snow hadn’t been touched by others, and things became bad. As in December, the early season of skiing and snowshoeing, the snow was very unsupportive. I had to give my snowshoes an extension of 5’, but even with the “tails”, I stil had to post-hole almost all the way to the wind blown upper ridge. Instead of following the guide book’s route, I chose to directly aim the northwest skyline ridge, then directly ascend the true summit. There was avalanche danger on one section. The book's route is safer but longer. After gaining the final ridge, the wind became considerably stronger. Then it’s a mix of snowshoing and scrambling. I climbed up to a small outlier first, which involves a moderate step. But the climb to true summit is more serious, since I had to cross a steep snow slope, followed by a narrow ridge with drop-off on one side and steep snow slope on the other side. Approaching from south ridge (the normal route) will not give these problems. On the summit, you get a full panorama view towards each direction. Mt. Assniboine is do doubt the majectic one, so is Mt. Ball and The Monarch. To the south, Mt. Bourgeau dominates the view. The day continues with the ascent of Wawa Ridge. See next album.

Slideshow
Mt. Ball
1
Mt. Ball
72 views
 
Sunshine Village in morning
2
Sunshine Village in morning
69 views
 
3
83 views
 
Eagle Mountain
4
Eagle Mountain
90 views
 
5
56 views
 
Sunrise
6
Sunrise
38 views
 
Mt. Bourgeau
7
Mt. Bourgeau
63 views
 
Bourgeau from Sunshine
8
Bourgeau from Sunshine
148 views
 
Backcountry boundary
9
Backcountry boundary
62 views
 
Twin Cairns ahead
10
Twin Cairns ahead
61 views
 
An interesting cloud formation
11
An interesting cloud formation
58 views
 
Eagle & Howard Douglas at center
12
Eagle & Howard Douglas at center
71 views
 
Low-angle sun in December
13
Low-angle sun in December
58 views
 
An outlier
14
An outlier
94 views
 
Ball Range
15
Ball Range
67 views
 
16
70 views
 
17
59 views
 
The true summit
18
The true summit
52 views
 
Ball Range
19
Ball Range
52 views
 
The Monarch
20
The Monarch
109 views
 
Split Peak on left
21
Split Peak on left
69 views
 
Mt. Ball & Ball Range
22
Mt. Ball & Ball Range
44 views
 
Mt. Brett
23
Mt. Brett
64 views
 
Mt. Assiniboine
24
Mt. Assiniboine
56 views
 
Fatigue Mountain on right
25
Fatigue Mountain on right
71 views
 
Eagle Mountain
26
Eagle Mountain
95 views
 
Cascade Mountain
27
Cascade Mountain
47 views
 
Sunshine ski area
28
Sunshine ski area
70 views
 
Mt. Bourgeau
29
Mt. Bourgeau
62 views
 
downclimb here
30
downclimb here
77 views
 
It was windy
31
It was windy
74 views
 
32
75 views
 
Some low clouds over Sunshine Meadows
33
Some low clouds over Sunshine Meadow…
68 views
 
Eagle & Howard Douglas
34
Eagle & Howard Douglas
62 views
 
35
43 views
 
The Monarch
36
The Monarch
54 views
 
Ball Range
37
Ball Range
57 views
 
Looking N towards Massive Range
38
Looking N towards Massive Range
80 views
 
Me on the summit
39
Me on the summit
87 views
 
My snowshoeing tracks
40
My snowshoeing tracks
61 views
 
41
71 views
 
42
68 views
 
43
54 views
 
Photos taken by Steven