Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Pigeon Mountain

On Sunday, June 24, the weather played a joke with me. I ascent Pigeon Mountain in a mix of rain and white-out, visibility was less than 10m on the summit. But partway down, the high clouds cleared and left dramatic low cloud scenery to me. In the afternoon all the clouds were gone and it turned sunny... With only 5.5 hours daylight time, I did a quick ascent on Squaw's Tit. Considering the forecast of cloudy with showers and thunderstorms, the day went way much better than what was anticipated.

I woke up in the morning in Canmore, looking around, couldn't see anything except for clouds... My window was facing towards east so I was supposed to be able to see Squaw's Tit and Lady MacDonald, oh well... Looking towards the other side, Ha Ling Peak barely showed up, and everything else got hidden in clouds. Checking the forecast in Information Center, it showed cloudy with showers, not constant rain. Under this condition, I knew I had to deal with white-out conditions, since I don't have a GPS, I decided to do a hiker's summit where a visible trail could lead me all the way up. Three choices: Pigeon Mountain, Wind Ridge, and Sulphur Mountain true summit. Pigeon Mountain looks more satisfactory compared with the other two, so after a quick muffin I soon started to drive towards Dead Man's Flat (I was too lazy to go into MacDonald for food).

The approach is via Skogan Pass Trail, which actually follows a cutline. The initial 4.7km went on and on and it was quite boring. Muddy condition was common due to the heavy rainfall recently. After 4-5 switchbacks, look closely to your left and you will find a hiker's sign of trail closure May 1 to Jun 15. Here you have to turn left on a much narrower trail, and follow it all the way to the top. In winter this trail will be snow covered and hard to find. I broke through the first layer of cloud, only to find there were more layers above me. Just below the impressive face of the south summit, I entered the upper layer and white-out the rest of the way. On the summit, the only picture-able stuffs are the cairn, my backpack, and a squirrel. I stayed for about 40min hoping the sky could clear, but it didn't. I couldn't stay any longer due to coldness.

Just after getting down for about 200m elevation, the sky cleared a bit and I could even see a few patches of blue colors. I stopped the descent and waited for another 20min or so. More blue colors started to show up. I soon re-ascended to the saddle between the north and south summit. Towards west was the dramatic cloud scenery, while the view towards east was still white. Pigeon Mountain is just one of the many summits surrounding Canmore and I was not too caring about seeing those familiar mountains again. I can get all the views from McGillivray, Grotto, Windtower, and Collembola, which are the 4 peaks surrounding Pigeon. I was satisfied about the view and started the descent. Not far down I entered the low clouds again, and rest of the day back was just a slog on the never ending trail.

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Photos taken by Steven