Dinah and I should've slept in for this trip as it was quicker than we expected. At our unhurried pace we did the trip in 7:20 including a 45-minute stay on the summit.
We found the trail without difficulty. It followed a drainage that was surprisingly scenic with its waterfalls and cascades. It certainly appeared more inviting than the endless scree above it. Once above the treeline, the objective is clear: slog up the slope to the peak. For the most part, however, the scree was firm. Ahead of us we noticed a group of three making their way to the summit.
In time, we gained the ridge. From below, the ridge appeared to level off but we were deceived: the ridgeline was as steep as the slope. We finished off the last section before the summit in soft snow. It was steep so that had the snow been crusty here, it may have called for ice axes.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the group ahead had put up flags on the summit cairn. It came as no surprise that they climbed Sunwapta as an Alberta Centennial Peak. We exchanged cameras to do group shots of each other and chatted for a while. They told us that they had been turned back twice before on this mountain. On one occasion they hadn't even gotten out of the car because the weather was so bad!
The descent was unremarkable except for being fast. We were back at the parking lot by mid afternoon. Despite the four-hour drive, this peak can be readily done as a day trip from Calgary.
Sunwapta Peak seen from Tangle Ridge
We gained a lot of elevation on the steep trail
Near the treeline, the peak comes into view
The treeline is still far away
Looking back at the drainage
Endless scree to hike up
Tangle Ridge in the background
The ridge was unexpectedly steep
Slogging up more scree
We passed some large cornices
Hiking up the last few metres to the summit. Mount Athabaska in the centre.
Summit is just beyond the rise
Centennial ascent group set up flags at the cairn
Mount Alberta appears above a glacier
Happy to be on the summit!
83 C/6 Sunwapta