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Compression Ridge
Kananaskis, Alberta
June 24, 2006

Caroline and Dinah assured me that we'd look back someday and laugh about this trip. I look forward to that day! Suffice to say, this trip didn't go according to plan although we did summit Compression Ridge.

Dinah and I had done Nihahi Ridge so there was no need to traverse that uninspiring ridge again. (Caroline had done it too but was less critical than us of that ridge.) The three of us would only do Compression Ridge on this day.

We planned to do a car shuffle: we'd start at Prairie Creek and end up at Upper Canyon Creek. So Caroline dropped her car off at Upper Canyon Creek and drove back with us to Prairie Creek.

From the parking lot we started up the trail that follows alongside Prairie Creek. When the trail crossed the creek we continued a short way before breaking off the trail. We started following another creek until it turned south. Then we left the creek and aimed for the col that connects Nihahi and Compression Ridges. After a few ups and downs and some miserable bushwhacking, we reached the open slopes below the summit of Nihahi Ridge. From there we scrambled easily to the col.

When I summited Nihahi Ridge two years I couldn't take a panorama because of the rain. But today was a blue-sky day so while Dinah and Caroline relaxed on the col, I took an hour to run up and down the summit of Nihahi and get a panorama.

After rejoining the girls we started up Compression Ridge. I was surprised how far we had to hike before we got our hands dirty. After some easy scrambling we found ourselves looking at the summit. To reach it, however, required traversing some exposed ridges.

We traversed the ridges without difficulty, but after bagging the peak our celebration was short-lived. Caroline realized she had left her car keys in my car! Furthermore, because of our leisurely pace I had run out of water and Dinah and Caroline were nearly out. Continuing to the end of the ridge and walking 6 or 7 km down the road to my car without water was unthinkable. We would take Kane's alternate descent route down the south slopes.

After leaving the summit we stayed close to the ridge crest and passed both windows. Shortly after the second window we came to a scree slope that extended to the valley bottom. It was an obvious descent route, with good scree too, so we took it. In short time we were in the forest at the bottom of the valley walking on soft, spongy moss. Even though we were mostly following Prairie Creek according to the map, we would see no sign of water for a long time. When we did reach the creek I drank thirstily from it. It was shockingly cold and I could only drink small amounts. We continued on until we stumbled across a faint trail that led to the main trail that we had started up that morning. In retrospect, on our ascent we should've followed Prairie Creek all the way to the base of Nihahi summit to reach the col.

Even though we weren't able to do the entire traverse, we were pleased to get the summit. Using Prairie Creek for the approach and exit, and the south slopes for the descent provides a way to traverse the best part of Compression Ridge and bag the peak without doing Nihahi Ridge or using a car shuffle.

KML Track

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)


Starting on the trail


Enjoyable hike alongside the creek


After going around this corner we'll start our ascent to Nihahi-Compression col


Heading up to the col

Leaving the col. The summit of Nihahi Ridge is on the left.


Starting along Compression Ridge


Easy hiking along the next ridge section


The ridge became more complex


Scrambling down a short drop


Mount Howard on the right


Approaching the rock fin. Above the fin are the exposed ridge and summit (click for a larger image).


Going around the rock fin


Almost at the exposed ridge


Climbing the exposed ridge


The ridge isn't too narrow


Almost at the end of the ridge. Mild exposure on this side.


My turn


Relaxing on the summit


The first window after the summit


Starting down from the first window. Second window is above me.


Going around one of the pinnacles


Climbing to the second window. Mouse over to see me standing it. Climbing back down was a bit hairy.


Looking back at the second window


Descending the slopes to Prairie Creek


Looking back, you can see the see the corridor we took through the trees


Our approximate descent route


82 J/15 Bragg Creek

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