Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Mount Howard

The crux of this trip was the driving. I woke up at 5AM in Canmore in a freezing rain, had a quick breakfast in MacDonald, and drove to Bragg Creek. I met Andrea at 7:30, and squeezed in her SUV. The snow got heavier and heavier as we were driving down Highway 66, and near Rainy Summit, the visibility was almost zero. We couldn't see where the road is, and it was all covered by a layer of new snow. It was just all in a whiteout. But somehow she managed to drive past the worst area, and we made to the snow covered Powderface Trail, and she managed to drive all the way in to Upper Canyon Creek without winter tires. Wow, I guess that's the difference between a SUV and a car... Anyway, I have to thank her a big time for driving. As forecasted, the wind was very strong, but not crazy enough to knock us off balance, so we kept our original plan.

The walk in was mostly directly against the wind. It wasn't a pleasant feeling when all the blowing snow smashes on our faces. We kept marching, passing the turn-off for Bryant's normal route and then it's east ridge route, and 1 hour later, we were facing at the Howard's ascending ridge.

As soon as we entered the forest, the wind died off completely and it started to feel very hot. We had a quick lunch break in the forest. The hardest part was right after breaking treeline. We slowly progressed up the steepest part, sometimes step-kicking, sometimes post-holing, while facing against the howling wind. Andrea was smart enough to bring ski goggles (I bought one after this trip)... With good attitude, we kept moving, at least we had some blue sky at this moment.

Again, with positive attitude, it was just preserving. The blue sky slowly disappeared as we gained elevation. We traversed the last false summit on climber's left side. The snow slope was rock hard but we didn't bother to use crampons. I slowly kicked tiny "holds" and it worked. There's some hands-on near the summit, and that's the only hands-on section for the entire mountain. The blowing snow made the visibility very low.

Note this is my 150th summit. One way up: 4 hours 15 minutes.

There was very little hope for the weather to improve, so we quickly moved down. We decided to take the Nugara's alternate descend route, straight down the slope. This way we could avoid the howling wind. I ended up getting some fun glissading down the snow slope. Since we took an earlier exit, we were facing at a much longer creek bed walk... There were more snow in this part of than the major Canyon Creek. Thankfully the post-holing wasn't bad. After eternity we made back to Canyon Creek. During the final slog, we got some good evening view. It wasn't evening yet but the sun was low enough to provide orange colours.

Overall, very successful weekend in the mountains again.

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Photos taken by Steven