Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Mount Norquay

After a month of wet and questionable weather, a full sunny week comes in early July. Okay, time to go bag peaks then. On Friday, I found myself driving south towards the Rockies. Given a late start, I would only have about 5-6 hours of daylight time, so I didn't have many options to go. I could have climbed things like Door Jamb to Loder Peak, but it's time to head further west and leave the very front peaks for off-season, right?

I was told that Mount Norquay is short but fun, so I decided to give it a try. One thing I have to point out here is, the mosquitos are out on full force. I didn't bring a bug spray and I suffered from that. On the lower slope, you have to ascent about 400m up a steep ski run, which surprisingly has a faint trail up. However, if you decide to stop for a few seconds, for example, taking pictures, there will be about more than 10 mosquitos ready to suck your blood.... Okay man. Under the 30 degree temperature + humidity, I had to dress in long pants and long shirt.

Once getting to the upper terminal of the lift, you have two choices, which are well described in Alan Kane's book. If you go for the gully, you will be doing the first crux (harder than the actual crux) soon. It's not terribly steep, nor exposed, however, the problem is you don't have good holds, especially when water is running. I had to trust finger holds for at least 1 move. Once clearing the first crux, you gonna face a steep and loose gully. This is the way up though. The ground is somewhat the worst type of terrain, loose dirt, clay, and little scree on firm ground. Use caution here.

Topping out on the ridge, you will be surprised that how much of distance you still have to travel. I didn't see the bypass of East peak, mentioned on Vern's site, so I just followed the ridge crest. However, before the east peak, you have to go over a miner bump which involves the second crux. This one involves an exposed 2m traverse followed by climbing up a steep slabby crack. You don't need to use finger holds here, but the holds are still minimal. Once up the crux, I was surprised that this isn't the east summit. A slight dip followed by steep moderate scrambles leads to the east summit. There's a cairn but no register on it.

To get to the west summit, you have about 150m elevation loss towards a saddle. From the saddle, it's mainly moderate terrain to the summit, however, I had to overcome the third crux. Kane mentions a traverse horizontally towards climber's right below the summit block, well, a snow filled gully blocked my way. Crossing this gully without an ice axe was a bit skechy. The snow wasn't too hard though, but if I sliped, I would be sent all the way down. If you don't like this, the direct line up the west summit is at least upper difficult. After the gully crossing, the summit isn't far. I tried to find a register for about 5 minute, but failed. I had no clue where that thing went.

I didn't stay long because of time issue. Onc thing for a difficult scramble is, you'd better retrace your step on the way back, unless you're 100% sure about the alternate route (which is the east peak bypass in this case). I couldn't see an obvious trail nor line contouring around so I re-ascended the east peak (which was tiring). Climbing down the 2nd crux was easier than ascending as lowering your body is always easier than pulling up. Decending the loose gully requires patience. You don't want to speed or you will fall. There won't be any consequence if you fall, but I just don't like the feeling of banana-pilling on a scree route. I bypassed the 1st crux on the way down, which is definitely easier but I still suggest you to as least take the waterfall way for ascending, for more enjoyable scrambling. Decending the ski run is a test for your knees.

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Photos taken by Steven