View from Mount Haig
Gravenstafel Ridge and Mount Haig
After learning of Vern Dewit's and Wietse Bylsma's successful early season ascents of Mount Haig and Gravenstafel Ridge the previous week, Dinah and I decided on the same trip. Like them – and unlike the book route – we would do the trip in reverse.
After parking at the Castle Mountain Ski Resort we learned that a grizzly sow with two cubs had been seen recently on the open slopes on Gravenstafel Ridge. We decided to avoid those slopes and instead ascend the treed slopes on the right. We hiked up the road a short distance before leaving it for a cleared corridor through the trees.
The plod to the summit was slow and uneventful. The previous night we watched a TV show about the formation of the Rockies and learned that they are eroding at the rate of 6/100 mm a year. I was wishing this mountain would erode faster!
After taking photos from the top of Gravenstafel Ridge we headed down to Gravenstafel-Haig col, scrambling over or around short cliff bands. From the col it's mostly a scramble with only mild exposure, unless one attempts to ascend the right side of the ridge! After the scrambling we hurriedly hiked to the summit without stopping to remove our helmets. Clouds were moving in and a thunderstorm seemed imminent.
Since Mount Haig is the highest peak around, there were great views all around. Two huge summit cairns attest to the popularity of this mountain ascent. Soon after we started our descent we heard thunder.
Thus far the counterclockwise route worked well for us. But as we came down the backside of the mountain we encountered a series of cliff bands. These would be easily negotiated going up since weaknesses would be spotted quickly, but coming down is a different matter. We followed the tops of cliffs, peering over edges, looking for places to descend.
Finally there were no more cliff bands and we hiked to the valley below. From here, the recommended route climbs 375 m to the top of the northeast ridge. Having done the northeast ridge in winter we had little incentive to revisit it. Besides, we were in the midst of a mild thunderstorm so it was safer to stay low. After ascending part way up the northeast ridge, we contoured north to hit the crest. This shortcut saved us 200 m of elevation and some distance than if we had gone to the top of the ridge. Once on the ridge, we made our way to the chair lift and followed it back to the parking lot.
I suspect either route – clockwise or counterclockwise – has its advantages and disadvantages, but however it's done, this is an enjoyable scramble!
We started at the chair lift but soon head right to reach the road
Coming up through the break in the trees
The ascent is mostly a steep hike to the summit of Gravenstafel Ridge
We mostly avoided the road which snakes up the mountain
Our first good view of the summit
If it weren't for the snow we'd be hiking on vegetation and debris.
Southfork Mountain in the background.
The prominent peak in the background (mouse over) is Mount Darrah
Almost at the false summit
Syncline Mountain (right) in the background
St. Eloi Mountain
Panorama from the top of Gravenstafel Ridge. Mount Haig in the centre.
I hung back on the summit while Dinah headed to the col and took this picture looking back
We made our way to Mount Haig. At its base is a beautiful tarn (mouse over).
Mostly short cliff bands on the ridge
Some like this one are interesting
But the best scenery lies ahead
We'll soon tackle the steep climb after the col
Starting up from the col
The left side of the ridge offered easier and less exposed terrain
Dinah makes her way through a pair of rock pillars
Colorful rocks after the pillars
The rock pillars can still be seen
Mild exposure in some places
Dinah looks for a way up
After scrambling up from the col the grade eases considerably
As we climbed we encountered a few gentle grades like this one
In the middle is the ridge we scrambled up
An enjoyable ridgewalk before it steepens
The summit is still some distance away
Unnamed peak to the southwest
Looking back: Mount Gravenstafel and the col we traversed
The northeast ridge of Mount Haig with Barnaby Ridge in the background
As we climbed the views to the southwest appear
The ridge from the col intersects another ridge that leads back to St. Eloi Mountain (centre)
Almost at the summit
On the summit. Castle Peak on the left
Just below the summit, I climbed this point to see a stunning view of the summit (mouse over)
Starting down the east ridge
Coming down from one of the cliff bands
Scrambling down a short cliff band
We traversed to dry rock
Same cliff band seen farther back
A few of the cliff bands in view
We dropped down to the valley on our left
Looking back at Mount Haig
Stopping to remove my helmet in the lush valley
Ascending from the valley, the tarn below Mount Haig is visible
Sidesloping to gain the ridge
Traversing this slope in dry conditions may not be so easy!
We reached the northeast ridge and minutes later it began to rain
It began to clear as we headed back to the parking lot
82 G/8 Beaver Mines
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