Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Mountains around Cadomin and Whitehorse Wildland, or in the easternmost part of Jasper National Park accessed from Cadomin area.

Steven Song
Cheviot Mountain
May 26, 2012

After the scenic ascent of Tripoli Mountain, it was time to think about our second objective, Chevio ...more

t Mountain. Because the ridge isn't connecting between Tripoli and Cheviot, we had to drop down to the valley floor. From there, the route to Cheviot is straightforward (only an easy scramble), but very tedious due to scree.

The summit of Cheviot is higher than Tripoli so offers better views. Towards east is the big mine site... I think they gonna expand to the whole area, and then these mountains will become inaccessible... Several 11,000ers are clearly visible, including Mount Robson, Edith Cavell, Fryatt, Warren and Brazeau. There's another high glaciated peak between Fryatt and Brazeau in the far distance. We though it would be North Twin, but according to the map, North Twin should be at further south. So the only possibility is Catacombs Mountain, a near 11,000er. Or probably a peak in Hooker Icefield area?

We nicknamed the unnamed peak immediately west of Cheviot Mountain as Little Cheviot. Due to its location, it worth a visit. From the col, ascent about 200m on steep snow of scree to the summit. You can get a better perspective of Blackface Mountain and Climax Mountain, as well as the approach to Prospect. Clearly, Prospect is better be climbed from the other side.

We chose the snow route to descent form the Cheviot / Little Cheviot col. It's quite steep, but again, the snow is too shallow to slide. We glissade the last part of the slope and soon re-joined Jim at the base of Tripoli. From there, actually, the fastest way back to car is to re-ascend Tripoli and glide down its east slope. However, we decided to traverse around the SW side of the mountain. Well, we didn't know, by this way, we had actually about 17km to go, mostly side-hilling, boulder-hoping, post-holing, and bushwhacking, plus several stream crossing. However, the scenery in this alpine environment reduced the pain. We chose to stay high above the treeline, which means, less post-holing and bushwhacking but more side-hilling and boulder-hoping. At the south corner of the mountain we were forced to drop down to the bottom of Cardinal River valley due to several cliff bands. After half an hour's miserable post-holing on isothermal snow covered forest while bushwhacking, we found the ATV trail (the trail to Rocky Pass), which was a relief. This trail is partially covered with isothermal snow as well. The part with no snow was muddy unsupportive. This situation is quite common in spring time if you come back late. We also saw tracks of big grizzly, good thing we brought our bear sprays. The quad trail went on forever to join the road. From the road, we had to re-ascend the hill of Cardinal Divide Pass which is certainly more than 100m vertically.

I don't know how long it took us to get through this part, but overall, it's my longest trip so far, 16 hours round trip time is even longer than the one day ascent of Castleguard. I have to thank Eric for bringing me to this obscured place to do peak begging, as well as Jim, who accompanying us for this trip. Eric has good navigation skill. If it was me leading, I would take much longer time to get through the forest to find the quad track. I still remember on Midnight Peak in January, where my poor forest navigation skill led to a wrong ridge, as well as on Morro Peak in February, where I ran into miserable bushwhacking which was not necessary. I'm looking forward to the next trip with him.

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Steven Song
Tripoli Mountain
May 26, 2012

This is my first trip with Eric Coulthard and his friend, Jim. It's hard to find peak beggers especi ...more

ally in Edmonton. We also have similar fitness level. I hope to go with him for more trips in the future. Eric wanted to explore some places that he never got to before, namely Cadomin area. It's east of Jasper National Park boundary and south of Hinton, located in the front ranges. We drove to Cadomin in Friday evening and we were surprised about how much snow in the first range of front country in late May... Gosh this year isn't a good year for scrambling. We thought Edith Cavell won't get into shape the whole season..... Temperature isn't low generally but the massive amount of snowfall between March and May, especially in March, Oh well...

According to government map, there is supposed to be a camping site in Mountain Park, about 15km further from Cadomin. However, we did see no sign of camping area around except for the massive mine site and a grave area. Oh well, we had to camp at trail head, Cardinal Divide Viewpoint. This area has elevation of near 2000m, and there was lots of snow around. There was a certain feel of going back to winter again..., and none of us brought snowshoes. Eric and Jim didn't even bring ice axe and crampons, nor gaiters. Good thing is we start at treeline, and we might can have a good overnight freeze so the post-holing in the morning shouldn't be that bad.

We woke up 5:30AM in the morning and set off at 6AM. Indeed the post-holing wasn't too bad. Mostly calf deep, but the snow always tried to give us surprise. Occasionally we punched through to our knees or thighs. We didn't take long to reach the correct ascent gully. Although it was snow covered, the snow wasn't deep enough to slide. The gully looks steep but actually it wasn't bad at all. There was just right amount of snow. If too deep, then we had to post-hole; if no snow, we had to deal with the tedious talus slope. We soon made to the first summit (Tripoli Mountain has three summits) at 8:30AM. Non of us has been to these mountains before, the view is breathtaking. Soon after topping out on the first summit, the long rockwall of Blackface Mountain came into views. The other side is the foothills and the prairie.

From the first summit, it's very straightforward to traverse to the second one. Again, most of the snow was calf deep, but occasionally knee deep. On the second summit, we got a good view of the third summit (the true summit), and Cheviot Mountain which you can say the 4th summit of the ridge. The true summit of Tripoli definitely looks interesting, several rock bands with mild exposure. And, to traverse to Cheviot would require dropping down to the valley floor and regain all of the elevation because there's a big cliff band blocking the direct route. Jim wasn't confident with exposure so he decided to wait for Eric and me at the col between 2nd and 3rd summit. We gonna attempt the true summit from the most direct ridge line, which involves 2 short difficult scrambling sections even if dry. We got lots of snow there. I had one axe and crampons, but ended up not using them. To get over the first rock band involves a 2m climb with only very small holds, or precisely, friction holds. Soon after that, cross a narrow snow ridge, followed by a rock ridge with half the width of Lady MacDonald's summit ridge (this is the crux step)... The drop to left was about 5m followed by steep scree so wan't too bad, but you might gonna injure. To right, it's steep snow followed by cliff bands, so might be fatal. After this crux, there's a short 2m downclimb, followed by another rock band, we squeezed under it and traversed on the left. You don't want to slip here. Definitely a difficult scramble, but manageable. We took scrambling photos on the way down.

The day continues with an ascent of Cheviot Mountain.

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Steven Song
Cardinal Divide Ridge
May 27, 2012

On Sunday we woke up with less energy and ambition for another mountain, but we didn't want to go ho ...more

me neither. Therefore this ridge came into mind. It's not a very low bump, but because we started at Cardinal Divide, which already has elevation of 2000m, the elevation gain is just about 200m to the summit. There's even a quad trail leading us to the top of the ridge, then it's a pleasant ridge walk to the summit. We used 1 hour to reach the summit. It's funny that the highest point is even treed. Fortunately we got a snow scoop which was about 3m high. Standing on that thing we could get better views. Towards west is the impressive face of the first range of front range, including Ruby Mountain, Mt Russell, Mt MacKenzie, Mt Cardinal, Tripoli Mountain, and Cheviot Mountain.

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Photos taken by Steven