We were warned not to attempt Mount Aylmer, the highest peak in Banff National Park. The day before we planned to climb it, Dinah phoned Banff Park for the conditions, and a parks interpreter told her there was too much snow on the mountain for an attempt. But Dinah and I decided to go ahead anyway.
First we had to
bike 8 km of rough trail along Lake Minnewanka to Aylmer campground.
After stashing our bikes, we headed up the trail that
goes to Aylmer Pass. Before the pass, however, we left the trail
and hiked up a gully. Although it wasn't in the forecast, it started
raining. As we climbed higher, it would eventually turn to snow. It grew colder as we climbed and we
kept adding layers. At about 400 m below
the summit, visibility was reduced to a few dozen metres and we reached
the first snow patches. Here we were hit by strong winds. At this point
we doubted we could make the unseen summit; if the weather didn't stop
us, snow on the summit might.
While cycling back, we encountered a parks interpreter who stopped us. It turned to be the same one that Dinah had spoken to
the day before. When the interpreter realized who we were, she immediately reprimanded us. She said she had cautioned Dinah about
snow conditions on the mountain. But when Dinah explained we had in fact reached the summit, the interpreter
changed her tune. She exclaimed, "You have my complete respect!"
Riding by the lake
Riding through the trees
After stashing our bikes we set off up the trail
After leaving the trail we ascended this gully
We encountered water running down the gully
The junction where the two trails meet
At the junction: the rock band is on the left and the summit is obscured by cloud. We chose to
stay below the rock band rather than follow the crest and do the downclimb.
Traversing below the rock band
Looking back at the downclimb. Over 400 m still to go!
Same spot looking ahead at the summit
The view north clears as we ascend the final few hundred metres
Looking back down the ridge
Below us, the alternate ridge trail from the lookout looks appealing although long
The summit cloud disappears as we near the summit (mouse over to look back)
On the summit
Looking back at the summit
On the descent, the clouds lifted giving us a clear view of Lake Minnewanka
(click for a larger image)
On the return, black scree next to the gully makes for a fast descent. Note the trail at the valley
bottom that leads to the pass.
82 O/6 Lake Minnewanka
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