Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Mount Edith N & S

My original plan was to join Wil Tabak for Mount Lougheed I-III Traverse, an "official" climber's scramble with a 5th class step in Andrew Nugara's scrambling book. The weather forecast predicted sunny and windless, and we decided to meet at Canmore at 6AM in the morning. However, when I woke up, I saw low clouds everywhere, and Mount Lougheed was covered in clouds. We briefly talked about the moderate route up, but Wil wanted something more challenging. Also, if doing the alternate route, we would miss the first peak, which is significantly enough to call for a separate summit. However, we still found ourselves driving up Smith Dorrien Road towards Lougheed... That's because, we'd like to trust weather forecast and believe that the sky would clear in 2-3 hours... Okay, we arrived at the correct drainage of Lougheed traverse, and found the entire upper mountain was soaked in clouds. Okay, we could just take a chance (on the success) and go up, and very likely, be turned back by weather. This is definitely not my way of peak-bagging. We kinda agreed with the situation and discussed about the alternative plans. As Wil wanted something challenging, I pointed out either McGillivray or Mount Edith, and he agreed with Edith, so we drove all the way back to Canmore, then to Banff...

Usually when you change your plan at the last minute, you're very likely to make mistake on trip planning part. By the time we arrived at Cory Pass TH (Mt Edith TH), I realized I left several things in my car, helmet, Alan Kane book, and sunglasses... At least I didn't forget camera. Wil didn't bring Kane book neither. Oh well, let's just find our own way up. I could vaguely remember other people's trip report but that wasn't reliable. What I could remember was: Go up to Cory Pass, scramble up the N. summit while going through a steep chimney, traverse to center peak. Going to south peak requires squeezing through a tunnel. Wil was optimistic because he thought for every Kane peak, there will be a beaten path or lots of cairns.

Honestly, I was more concerning about not having a helmet, rather than the route description, especially for loose rock difficult scramble like Edith. Anyway, we started the trudge up Cory Pass Trail, and took the left branch upon reaching the first and only intersection. From a hiker's perspective, this trail is quite steep, especially the initial kilometer or so. For some reason, maybe the weather, I felt very short on energy. My legs' muscles were stiff and I had to go slower. Probably I should do more warm-up next time, but I rarely have the same problem in the past trips without warming up. I think everybody will have some bad days though. When I finally started to see Mount Cory towards west, the steep part was done. Due to the clouds, the view along this trail wasn't breathe-taking as described on other sources. With the peak in mind, we marched on.

The impressive Mount Louis suddenly showed up when we topped out on Cory Pass. "That's the therapy", said by Wil. Yes, agree! If you really want to see the impressive rock formation in Sawback Range, I highly suggest you to go up Cory Pass. Now I know why so many people like this trail! I took a short break while eating a muffin, and we soon started the upper section. Wil was correct, there was indeed a beaten path leading us up, all the way to the base of a cliff band, then it disappeared. Now what, both of us didn't know what was the correct chimney to go up. I took the center line and saw a very steep and narrow chimney (actually the correct one). But I turned back and I wanted to see how's the other side. Wil found a cairn towards climber's right and we followed to the col between 1st and 2nd peak. There's another chimney on this side... Okay, since there were cairns, we decided to took this one. We then followed the ridge line up for another 10-20m or so, while overcoming moderate to difficult terrain. Damn... This shouldn't be the right way man, the terrain ahead of us was extremely exposed and overhanging. I wanted to just re-trace our steps back to the col, but Wil was able to find another chimney which could bring us directly down. Okay, I just followed. I would say this is about the same level of difficulty as the correct chimney.

We still didn't feel like going up the correct chimney, and we wanted to check out climber's left first. We traversed around over slightly exposed ledges and found a broad gully on that side. It definitely looked much better than the steep narrow chimney though, and we started trudging up that gully. Since I was below Wil, I kept my eye more on him. I need to point out here, even if you have a helmet, rock fall danger is still high on this loose crappy gully, therefore Kane's chimney is better. We already tried to avoid kicking down rocks to each other (both of us didn't use helmet, I didn't know if Wil also forgot his), but there were still lots of loose stuff being knocked down including several basketball-sized rocks. After this part, it's only 5min away from the summit of North Peak. However, to get there, we had to step over a half-meter crack. You can jump over it as well. But if slipping into that crack, you would be in a really bad shape... The clouds didn't lift up at all, instead the ceiling actually lowered down. We lost our view towards SE side... Glad we didn't go up Mount Lougheed...

We didn't linger long because our objective is the traverse, not just the north (true) summit. We were able to find the correct chimney mentioned in Kane's book. It's steep and narrow, but you also have lots of holds so it wasn't too bad. Considering the low exposure level, Wil thought it's more like moderate. I would say it's lower difficult, as the nearby Mount Norquay is even easier.. Follow the beaten path, we soon arrived at the north-center col. To get to center peak, we followed the trail skirting around the first cliff band on climber's left, on slightly exposed ledges. The ledges look exposed from north peak, but when we got there, it wasn't bad at all. Then we had to trudge up another loose gully, better than the one we just did though. From the center peak, we could have a better perspective of our next objective, the south peak. It looks intimidating from this angle, not much better than Louis... We were surprised to find a register on this peak. I think it has to be replaced to the true summit (north peak)...

Also, to get to south summit, we had to lose a lot of elevation. We were able to find the steep gully leading to center-south col. From above, this one looks just the same as the previous two, but when we got into it, we found it's not as loose. Good. There was even a good scree run on the lower part, which was a bonus for our knees. The south summit is rated more difficult by Kane, and a narrow tunnel is involved. Since we had to go back the same way, I just left my backpack at the col. Following the obvious path up, the tunnel is the first obstacle we encountered. Kane mentions your size factor, but what... If your size is a factor here, then you shouldn't be hiking lol... The tunnel is wide enough, and also considerably easier than the steep chimney on north peak. There were tens of cairns after the tunnel, and route-finding wasn't a problem for the rest. The cairns led us traversing climber's right then up, and we were soon facing the next obstacle, a 3m high slight overhanging step. For me, coming down this step is the crux of the day (which is on the way back). The holds are solid, but because of the overhanging factor, you need some techniques or strong arm, or long legs. The consequence of falling is minimal, but like I said earlier, you need strength for this step. Personally, I feel this type of stuff harder.

Kane mentions that the upper ridge to the summit is exposed. Well, the ridge is wide enough. Mount Rundle's dragon's back is more exposed than this part, and that is rated as easy... Okay, minutes later, we reached the summit, which surprisingly also has a register. I saw impressive names like Barry Blanchard. The clouds also started to lift and allowed me to take a full panorama.

Wil likes to go down by a different way, but not this time though, as I left my pack at the center-south col. So we retraced our steps down. As I mentioned earlier, coming down that overhanging step was harder as a long reach was required. Even though the holds were solid, I still couldn't trust them 100%, especially after all of those loose stuffs on this mountain. Wil did it more comfortably, and I did it okay. Compared to the climbs on Mount Pierre Elliot Trudeau last weekend, this is not a challenge. We came straight down from center-south col towards Cory Pass trail. Once on the trail, we saw tens of hikers. Oh yeah, it's Saturday with good forecast... The sky finally cleared up and we were able to take some nice photos of Bow Valley, Mt Rundle, and Mt Norquay.

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Photos taken by Steven