I was forced to do another solo trip on Sunday, after finishing Galatea, Gusty, and Fortress the day before. It's mid September and time to fully take advantage of the larch season. The best time would be the next weekend, but I couldn't rely on it due to the uncertainty in weather. It took me a while to decide my objective, as there were simply too many possibilities.
At 11pm, I found myself driving towards Lake O'Hara TH, and I slept in car at the night. I didn't plan on both of Little Odaray and Schaffer, so there was no mean to wake up early. I decided to do a 8am start. However, by the time I got ready, I was surprised that there were several cancellations so I could take the bus in... Wow! That saved me a lot of time and energy, and I decided to increase my ambition to both of the two peaks. The best 15$ spent ever! The bus dumped all of us at Lake O'Hara lodge. It felt really good to have a starting elevation of 2000 meters.
Everything was pretty much in shade at 9AM, so I didn't bother to take photos of the lake. For picturing Lake O'Hara, afternoon sun is much better than morning sun. This rule applies for all lakes in this area though. I soon started the hike towards Schaffer Lake / Lake McArthur. In no time I arrived at the Elizabeth Parker Hut, and got the first view of my first objective, Little Odaray.
The trail goes into the forest again, but with a fast walking pace, it didn't take me long to reach Schaffer Lake. Again, everything was in shade at this time, so I didn't bother to take photos. I could see most of the larches were turning yellow. This's gonna be gorgeous in the afternoon. I was surprised to see a group restriction on Odaray Highline trail... It only allows 2 parties per day during the summer time... You have to fill out a signature log, but there wasn't a pen around... Oh well, anyway... I continued on. After breaking through the trees, the trail follows the treeline and traverses horizontally towards climber's right side. The view towards O'Hara side fully opened up, but again, the morning sun was very bad for taking photos. I got much better photos on the way down.
The trail turns sharply left and starts to ascend the slope straight up. It breaks through the first cliff band through a weakness, and tops out on a plateau. I think this is the official end of Odaray Highline trail. If your destination is just here, I highly suggest you to come in afternoon. At 10am, you won't get any good photo towards Lake O'Hara and Lake McArthur. But you do can get good view of Odaray Mountain and its glaciers. From here on, the terrain becomes easy to moderate scrambling. Little Odaray is not a walk-up, and you'd better come here with some experience on steep terrain.. I managed to catch up a solo hiker on the upper slope, and he didn't even make to the summit ridge due to the steepness. However, route-finding is easy as you're following paths and cairns, and the route goes straight up. Once at the summit ridge, I was blocked by a huge ice snow scoop... I tried to ascend the snow, but my hiking boots couldn't do any kicking in, and I was forced to skirt around on climber's left side. Skirting around involves a bit of elevation loss.
For those of you doing this mountain in the morning, the best view is towards the west range after you gain the summit ridge. The distant Selkirks and Purcells are also visible, including the infamous Howser Towers, Sir Donald, and Sir Sandford. Mounts Owen and Vaux look impressive as well, and good thing is, they're both scrambles. While admiring the views, I quickly made my up to the summits, my 100th peak of this year! My original goal for this year was to climb 100 peaks, but now, I finished my goal in mid September... Don't know what to expect from the next 3.5 months..
I took a long stay on this summit, hoping to get some better photos of the O'Hara area, but too bad, the sun direction changed very slow. I couldn't wait forever so I decided to descend. I did manage to get some good shots when I got down to near treeline though. I took time shooting the larches on the way down Odaray Prospect Trail. Next objective, Mount Schaffer!