My original plan of this weekend was to do some last snowshoeing ascents, namely Mosquito Mountain and Emerald Peak, however, as I drove into the mountains, I changed my mind. Marko pointed out that some folks was going to do Lady Mac, while I thought it would be questionable as any cornice on the ridge could potentially stop your attempt... The system on Thursday and Friday also dumped new snow to that area. The temperature would drop to -5 overnight, so logically, doing a snowshoeing trip along Icefield Parkway would be a smart idea. BUT, as I drove to Canmore, the front ranges mountains appear bone dry! The possible explanation is that the ground has already got the heat to melt the new snow very soon. I started to question my plan, yeah, why not just stick to Canmore and tick off a few scrambler's summits? By this way I could also save about 200km driving distance.. Doing solo trip means infinitely flexibility on objectivity. I ended up doing Mount Lady MacDonald on Saturday; Morrowmount on Sunday; Mount Yamuska + Mount Baldy on Monday.
I failed this mountain twice in December 2011, there's no way I can fail it the third time.
A brief note for December 24, 2011:
My fourth day of peak bagging of solo Christmas adventure. I was already short of energy and went up the mountain late (well, 9:30am start in December is a late start). I lost the trail just before a large meadows area and went straight up.. Not far up I encountered a boulder field, in which, I found a large consumed body of goat or deer... Shit there must a cougar around and I wasn't even armed with a spray... I was freaked out and ran down the mountain.
A note for December 26, 2011:
Two days after, I armed with a spray and a knife. This time I found the correct trail. Reaching the final summit ridge imposed no difficulty. This was my first time doing difficult scramble, and I chose Lady MacDonald in winter, went soloing. Just before the true summit there's a slight dip. This is a bit north facing and the narrowest part got double-corniced. This part of the ridge is also slabby. In this condition, it's no longer a scramble.
May 19, 2011:
In dry condition, the ridge imposes no difficulty. I would say my miserable wrong ridge ascent of Midnight Peak and the crux step on St. Nicolas Peak are more serious than the final dip on Lady Mac's ridge. With all of those experience, I could just walk up the summit ridge to the dip before false summit, then a moderate scramble to get to false peak. Then it's a walk up to the final dip before true summit. The rock is very grippy this time so I soon stand on the summit. I used 15min to traverse the entire summit ridge (including taking near 30 photos), while I've heard some people used 1 hour to do so. I'm very satisfied but since I was soloing, I couldn't get a decent photo of the ridge with people on it. It's Saturday so I knew there would be many many people coming up. I waited for about 1 hour. It was pretty chilly on the top and I didn't have extra layer so I had to go back...
Coming back the crux dip is easier for sure. I waited another 15min or so after getting back to the safe side of the summit ridge. Two girls topped out. After talking to each other briefly, I said I can lead them to the summit and I don't mind to re-do the entire ridge. Lindsay stopped just before the crux dip, while Diana and I made to the summit. I did got some good shots of how serious the ridge is..
Overall, if you are confident on exposure, this ridge is for you. There's no loose rock and the slabs are very grippy. If you can walk on the ridge for most part, then you can do it in 15min, if you have to often hands-down, then you probably need 30-40min.. If someday I run out of peak in Canmore area, Lady Mac is the one I want to repeat. With a very popular approach (Teahouse Ridge), you don't need to worry too much about bears if you are soloing. I didn't count but I guess I saw 100 people the entire day.