In his book, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, Alan Kane describes a route to Gap Peak via Mount Fable, an 11-hour endeavour. Having done Mount Fable, I was interested in a direct route to Gap Peak. Not only did I find one, but it's enjoyable throughout. The route up the south slope appears to be impeded by extensive cliff bands, but hidden in the trees is a break.
Access: Head west on Highway 1A past Exshaw. After driving for about 2 km, look for a sign for the picnic spot at Grotto Mountain Pond. Drive 400 m past this and turn right at the Bay Mag Cement Plant. Park at the trailhead sign (GR257581).
Don't take the trail that heads east-west, but instead, head north across the gravel bed and up the wooded ridge. If you hike straight up, you'll encounter a cliff band, so angle left for a time. Tramp through the woods making use of animal trails when you can. Because there's little undergrowth, it's easy going. As you continue up the ridge, you may have to negotiate short cliff bands. After about an hour, you'll break out of the trees onto a scree slope. Here, gnarled, dead trees create a surreal setting, a good spot to break if it's not too windy.
Continue up the ridge, crunching on fine scree, to the cliff band. When you reach it, bear right and hug the cliff base until its end, marked by a steep, wooded slope. Head up the slope. Because of scree and deadfall, it's slow going, but mercifully short. If you go too far right, you'll hit the second cliff band, so be sure to go straight up. After breaking out of the trees you'll be on top of the first cliff band and at the base of the second cliff band. Hike west along the cliff base until you reach its end where you can scramble around it.
An open scree slope now appears. Ahead is a false summit (GR245607), actually the start of a long ridge walk. Make your way to the ridge, keeping right where the scree is firmer. The rock buttress below the false summit can be circumvented either left or right, but the right side offers less scree and protection from the wind if it's windy. Either way, you'll find yourself on a kilometre-long ridge leading to the summit. Although mildly exposed in places, the top of the ridge is wide enough to easily walk on.
Return: Walk back along the ridge to the false summit. Climb up and over it. On your left is a gully: a quick descent on scree to the second cliff band. But you may want to explore the rock outcrop ahead first where there are pinnacles and a window.
Our approximate route
Breaking out of the trees: the first cliff band lies ahead, lit up by the sunrise
After reaching the first cliff band bear right and follow its base
Following the base of the first cliff band
At the base of the second cliff band
Skirting the base
The ridgewalk to the summit
Continuing along the ridge
Closing in on the summit, right
On the summit
Heading back on a narrow section
Heading back down the ridge
Dropping down the west side of the ridge to check out the rock formations
I hid in a cave but Kari and Dinah easily found me
Al, Kari and Dinah look through the window
Coming down the gully from the pinnacles and window
Heading back to into the trees
82 O/3 Canmore
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