V. J. showed his interest during the past week to team up with me for a hike. I accepted and promised him to pick something easy up. My goal was to go to Kananaskis and Ribbon Creek, take the trail and go all the way to Highway No. 1! That would have killed him! So our plan was to call him yesterday (Sat.) around 05:30 AM and wake him up. I woke up at 05:15 AM and after a few minutes gave him a ring. No answer. He had told me that he would be partying with his buddies and there would be lots of drinking. So I assumed that he had come home late and tired. I tried the number again and no answer and I left a message. He called me back in a few minutes and said that he was too drunk to go. After a few telephone call exchanges and stupid text messages from him, which showed he was drunk because he even couldn't spell correctly(!), not that he would have been able to, had he not be drunk(!), I let him go back to his nasty life and sat back because I knew I would not be able to go back to sleep. The Lady woke up around 08:05 AM to get ready to go to work and was surprised by seeing me. I explained to her what had happened and showed her the text messages. We got ready and I decided to go by myself after dropping her off at work.
My destination was Mt. Sparrowhawk because that was the hike/scramble I originally wanted to do when we went to Old Goat Glacier last June and my teammates turned it down due to the amount of snow that they thought would have been accumulated there.
Going to Sparrowhawk in Kananaskis is a long and tedious drive especially because you have to drive on Smith Dorrien Trail which is a gravel road. Leaving the city after grabbing an Egg Salad Sandwich from Safeway, something I normally don't do but wanted to try something different yesterday, by the time I was at the trial-head it was almost 11:00 AM! Fortunately the information I had obtained from the net was accurate and complete and I was able to find it quickly and easily. There were at least 8 cars parked there when I reached. I started my hike at around 11:09 AM and went up directly the trail by Sparrowhawk sign and after a few minutes turned left in the forest when I saw the blue ribbons as it is stated in the guide.
|Read's Ridge (or Tower) at right and the summit block far away. It's at least 2 to 2.5 hour to the summit from here.|
I exited the forest after, I guess, an hour of steady steep hike up the hill. There was a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and Spray Lakes Reservoir but I saved it for the time that I would get more elevation. This was where I reached a plateau and I was able to rest a bit and I saw Read's Ridge and the summit's block. It's obvious that you should not go over the ridge but beside it. So I approached and followed the clear path. Unlike Mt. Yamnuska you don't get close to the ridge and after a few minutes you see the a few streams, small waterfalls and you hear the beautiful sound of them. I wasn't expecting to see that much snow on the mountain but seemed clearly that enough had come down earlier during the week. I started going the rocky scree beside the streams and over the snow and simply followed the footprints and visible path. While going up I looked up a few times and I saw two people. First it was not clear to me whether they were going up or coming down because I think I saw them just standing or maybe they were going up slowly. When I finished the gully and reached up there, they where some 15 to 20 minutes ahead of me. I looked with more attention and I realized there were two young Caucasian girls one in shorts. The one behind looked back a few times and seemed tired because she stood every few steps. They were having conversation in between themselves and I assume the taller one, in short, was trying to encourage the other one to carry on but they were taking the wrong way and it didn't take long to me to caught up with them and pass. When I looked down next, probably half an hour later, they were 20 to 25 minutes behind me!
At this point I got close to a small cubic shape cabin which looked to be for meteorological purposes. I learnt through one of the guys who were coming down with his dog that I had to approach the summit block from it's right or better to say south side. Then I saw two other guys that they seem struggling too. When you approach the block, you have to go around and try to reach the summit from behind similar to Mt. Yamnuska but Sparrowhawk's summit block ascent is much harder than Yamnuska's. So when I reached the behind, I saw the two guys, one boy and one girl, who looked like a Filipino just a few meters in front of me trying to go up using both hands!
These two seemed very inexperienced and not very smart either and although they were young they should have known that in mountain what is important is to avoid going starlight up. You have to zigzag and find the easiest path. There were also a couple who were coming down and that gully was very steep and covered with mud and snow. I asked them how far I was and at that spot I didn't see the Filipino girl and his boyfriend. They were way down. The guy told me that I was about 20 min. to the summit but didn't give any information as how to reach there from the awkward position of mine. What I did and it's really recommended if you ever get there, is I moved to the left where stable rocks existed and avoided the steep, muddy, snowy center. I get myself up a narrow steep passage and saw another meteorological box. I was at the summit after a few steps!
I took a few photos from around the summit. It was all beautiful but a little bit too sunny which affects the photos. I wanted to wait for the two clowns to come up so I can ask them to take a photo from or with me with the flag but I looked down and they were still crawling up like a couple of infants! I waited I guess for 20 minutes and eventually got bored and headed down. I had to tell them what to do and what to avoid to reach the summit easily and I hope they are safe now.
|On the way back to Highway No. 1 and shortly after passing Goat Creak and Miners Peak, I saw a small heard of goats and stopped for a photo. These are 3 out of the 5.|
There was nothing special on the way down. There were a few good photography opportunities that I used them all. There was no sign of the two Caucasian girls. I guess they had returned. When reached deeper down and close to the streams I could not resist and filled up my bottle and enjoyed the water. I guess it took around 3 or may be 03:30 hours to reach down. I guess it was a good achievement considering the other individual's effort and the time I spent. Scrambling Mt. Sparrowhawk gives nice views and good exercise but performing that in earlier time of the year I bet would be better because of the vegetation and wildflower availability. For me that is it. Every summit is done once.
(Photo, top: Spray Lake Reservoir, the dam and many Kananaskis mountains that I cannot recognize them and of course Smith Dorian Trail from the summit of Mt. Sparrowhawk)