Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Mount Rae

Mike got blisters due to the 44km traverse on Saturday, so I had to do a solo ascent on Sunday. Mount Rae is on my radar for a while and finally I got a chance to attempt it. This is also my first time visiting Highwood Pass. Being able to start at 2200m elevation means, all of the ascents in this area are short. Rae isn't an exception, despite the fact it is the highest peak I've done in this year (out of 104 so far)...

The trail up Ptarmigan Cirque was very short and it only took me less than 20min to get there. The morning sun wasn't great for picturing the impressive rock formation, so I kept going without being distracted by the views. Looking back, Trywhitt to Pocaterra shows up, with Highwood Ridge in the foreground. The view was very smoky...

The path led me up to the back side of Ptarmigan Cirque. Once around the corner, the huge scree slog shows up.. Trudging up towards the col is very tedious. The higher I got to, the looser the ground is.. I took a necessary sunscreen break when the sun got to me, and that was the only break during the ascent. I managed to use rock rib at the upper section which helped a lot.

There was still a lot of ground to cover from the col. I followed a path traversing climber's left. The path eventually ended up at a very very loose rubble section, and bashing up that slope towards summit ridge was the worst part of the day... I should just stick to the ridge crest. About 50m before the summit, the ridge gets exposed. If you don't want to detour towards climber's left on down-sloping rubble covered slabs, you gotta have to encounter some moderate but very exposed steps.

The view was very very disappointing due to the smoke. Joffre, King George, and Sir Douglas weren't even visible, and the sky was white-gray rather than blue... Oh well, since I got the peak done, I won't complain.. I stayed for near 1 hour but the view didn't get any better... Descending was not too bad and I quickly made down to the col. Then I saw a group of 4 going up. I used another gully on skier's left of them to avoid knocking down rocks to them. However, just after I passed them, they started to knock down rocks to me. I managed to dodge though. I was glad not to forget to bring helmet for this peak... At least the upper slope was good for surfing down. It wasn't scree though, so if you want to surf down, you'd better have good balance skill. The afternoon sun was good for picturing Mount Rae itself.

There were at least 50 tourists at the cirque already... I quickly made my way down to the trail. And what.. Hundreds of cars had already parked at the shoulder of the road... Geez.. I thought I was in Lake Louise... Round trip time: 5 hours including a near 1 hour summit stay.

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Photos taken by Steven