I was quite tired after finishing Fisher Peak the day before, so I was looking for a shorter objective. Kevin Papke and I were originally planning on Wapta Mountain... According to Vern, So, and Dow's trip reports, this mountain is very serious. The summit block is rated as 5.4 rock climb but has a not-so-clear bypass. Obviously Kevin wasn't prepared for this kinda difficulty so as we discussed about it on the drive in, we decided to change to an easier objective. Kevin wanted to do Wapta with rope and climbing shoes. We re-scheduled it to Wednesday and he can teach me roped work as well. So, we decided to do Storm Banff.... Easy?? No!!! It turned out to be the worst scramble I've done in Kane List so far..
Because of the last-minute change of plan, I didn't do any preparation on Storm Mountain. I didn't know there's even a trail on the left hand side of the main drainage... We met 4 scramblers from Edmonton at the parking lot, but we decided to go separately. They went ahead of us so they could help us scaring away the bears. Kevin and I started the bushwhacking soon after the start. We traversed diagonally up until crossing a small drainage. We crossed it according to Kane's book, and then ascended straight up on its right side. The next half hour was to negotiate a thousand of deadfalls... This isn't the worst bushwhacking I've done, as the descent gully of Southfork Mountain is really hard to beat... But it's definitely the worst bushwhacking I've done in Kane List. Kevin has done Inglismaldie and he said this part is even worse... Higher up, the bush got less dense and we started traversing more towards climber's right. Eventually we reached the main drainage and we re-grouped with the other 4 scramblers.
We took a short energy break and soon started the trudge up the gully. It's very foreshortened... It took us a while to get to the upper part where we should leave the gully and traverse more towards climber's right. We went too far up and as a result, we had to negotiate a giant boulder field (some of the boulders are car sized)... Good thing was, the rocks were generally stable at this point, as we quickly made ourselves to the upper bowl, the official start of scree bashing...
The initial part of the scree wasn't too bad for going up. It was mainly a rubble slog, but as we went higher and higher, the terrain got steeper and steeper, and the rubble slope became more and more unstable... Three of us (we grouped together, so 6 of us total) didn't bring poles.. Oh man, they really had a hard time slogging up this stuffs without a pair of poles. It was the first scramble for one of the group members... I don't think Storm Mountain is a good choice for introducing someone into scramble. You need something easy going, short, and scenic to introduce beginners. As we went up, we started to see an alpine tarn near treeline. If not because of the deadfalls, we should have give it a visit on the way down..
We could see storm was building up in Lake Louise area, and Kevin and I decided to go on ourselves as we didn't want to be turned back due to thunderstorm... We cut climber's left to gain the broad scree gully in Kane's book. It was okay at the beginning, but higher up, the terrain got looser and looser... Anything could move, no matter how large the boulder is... The entire mountain is unstable. We managed to get to the base of the rock cliff where we could get better grip. Higher up, in order to avoid more scree, we did an optional moderate to difficult scramble section to get up a step. The view was very foreshortened and after that, we still had lots of elevation to go before topping out on the ridge. At least the views were good. One thing I didn't realize was, Storm Mountain is even higher than Stanley Peak. Eventually we topped out on the ridge, and surprisingly we still had a good amount of work to do... Again, the view is foreshortened and the final push on the summit plateau isn't pleasant especially just after doing all of those miserable stuffs. Finally, finally, we made to the top. The views were amazing towards each direction, and that made up for the miserable ascent.
We didn't stay long as soon started the descent. Usually the looseness helps on the way down, but this mountain is an exception. The loose ground is too shallow. It was mainly a loose layer on down-sloping slabs and the slabs are not stable as well. Nothing is stable. We took our time and descent parallel to each other. Apart from the thousands of rocks we knocked down, a microwave sized rock was dislodged and we watched it bouncing down for hundreds of meters... I also tumbled down for 5m due to scree covered slab... At the end of the gully / ramp, we managed to catch up the other 4 scramblers. They turned around due to the looseness. Turning around on this mountain really sucks, but I have to say they actually made a good call. Not to say the lack of experience and poles, having 4 in one group you really have to bring a helmet... The ground got better as we got down. We regrouped together again and slowly moved back through the boulder field. Now we were down to the main drainage.
We decided to follow the drainage down for as much as we could, and that turned out to be a really good call.. Initially we had to negotiate more deadfalls but soon we managed to find a trail!! We could follow the trail almost all the way down.... Oh okay, looks like we did lots of extra work on the way up.. Before reaching the highway, we had to cross a river. Kevin didn't mind to wet his boots so he just plunged through, while I bushwhacked on my side for a while to find a good spot to cross. Fortunately I did spot on deadfall which prevented me from wetting my boots. Once on the other side of the river / stream, I was only about 15m from the highway. However, this 15m proved to be the most tedious bushwhacking of the day. 3m high alders + deadfalls, I had to really push through a way to cross. We walked back the final hundreds of meters on Highway back to car. Overall, except for summitting this major mountain and the views, nothing is enjoyable. On the other hand, if you don't like exposure and hands-on but you like good views, you might actually enjoy this peak though. Oh by the way, on the way up, you should try to find the trail...