Friday, December 27, 2013

A Nightmare in Kananaskis: Baldy Pass

I wanted to try Mountain Baldy again today so I saddled up and headed toward Kananaskis through Highway No. 1 again. It has been a couple of stupid days in Calgary. Temperature went up to 9 ̊ C and we had to leave the window open to be able to sleep, at least for the most of the night. With that Chinook happening I though it would be easier to run up the mountain and come back down but I was dead wrong! I started at exactly 11:00 AM and simply followed the footsteps from the trail-head where the sign is erected. The first 15 minutes of the hike is annoying because you are walking in the forest but parallel to Highway No. 40 and the annoying noise from the speeding cars is in your ears. Then you turn toward east deeper in the forest and it becomes better but the real trouble appear just after a few minutes of hike: Deep soft snow. If you do not have a good pair of Snowshoes, forget about the hike. I started going deep in to the snow and you know how annoying and frustrating that can be, right after I turned in to the east. Fortunately someone or maybe two had taken the route before me so I had a bit of guidance and stomped snow to follow! The trail goes besides and at time from the inside a stream or gully and I continuously skidded and slipped! This was going on until I reached a cairn at a some sort of junction which at my left was a ridge leading to Mountain Baldy, at my right was a trail leading to another peak which I don't know what it is called and in front of me was a valley of evergreen threes. 
I decided to go right because to me for whatever reason it seemed that the right peak is much easier to reach compare to Mountain Baldy that I had to have lots of walk on the ridge and close to the edges. The trail here is very easily detectable and has been marked by footsteps, especially because there was not much snow at the beginning, and also several cairns. I realized that the weather was changing and that actually was in the forecast. Strong wind started and that blew snow in to my eyes and head. I immediately equipped myself with a hat and glasses and carried on. It was not very bad for a few minutes but then I lost the trials or it had been buried under so much snow that I could not find it and got stuck in deep snow. Snow was almost to my waist but I wanted to go so I managed to pass the first barrier but then more snow and deeper this time appeared in front of me and that was the time I decided to turn back. I descended back to the first cairn and decided to take my chances at the other side, where the ridge would have taken me to Mountain Baldy. I claimed up a bit and the wind was getting stronger and more clouds were coming in so I decided not to take the risk and came back. 
The return was 10 times worse than the ascend! I guess it was mainly because that the snow was softer I was tired. I was cursing and going! I twisted my ankle a few times but I was lucky enough not to break it. I reached the parking lot eventually at 15:15 hours, almost and went home. 
(Photo: Mountain Lorette, at the other side of Highway No. 40, is seen here from Baldy Pass on the way back. From here to parking lot is only about 15 minutes)

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