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View from the ridge

Mount Head (attempt)
Kananaskis, Alberta
August 20, 2011

Dinah and I had planned to summit Mount Head, but a few hours into our climb we realized we were making poor time. For whatever reason, Dinah wasn't as fast as usual. Chalk it up to an off day for her. So we gave up on the peak and instead turned back after gaining a high point on the ridge.

But something else slowed us down. Just minutes after starting out on the trail, we encountered a herd of cattle, maybe a dozen cows and calves. They fled ahead of us, leaving fresh cow patties in their odoriferous wake. We trailed slowly behind them, carefully sidestepping their masses of muck while trying not to gag. Since the animals were too dumb to leave the trail even when they passed meadows, we were forced to follow, kilometre after stinking kilometre. Finally, after going over Grass Pass, the herd took a side trail and we found ourselves on a dry trail.

But even without the cows, the trail was no picnic. Apparently over the years, passing hooves had pounded the dirt out of the trail, leaving rock-strewn swaths that some scree slopes would envy. And as if the cow crap and the loose rock weren't insult enough, we lost 160 m going over the pass. After hiking on the trail for nearly 6 km, we left it to bushwhack up the side creek below Mount Head.

At the rate we were going, it would take us 7-8 hours to summit. So we left the creek before reaching the big gully and gained the ridge before turning around.

After getting back to our car, our first reaction was never again to attempt Mount Head. We weren't eager to tackle the long, uninspiring approach a second time. But a few days later, “never again” became “probably will.” If and when we return, I hope there will be no cows!


Following cows up the trail


Grass Pass ahead


Mount Head from Grass Pass (mouse over for a close-up)


Passing beneath Holy Cross Mountain


We leave the trail and start up the side creek


Following the creek


While ascending the treed slope, we find a rock stuck in trees.


After getting above the treeline, a rock band forced us to angle left.


Looking back


We head to the ridge above me


Grinding up the rubbly slope


Looking down at Bull Creek Hills and the east end of Mount Head


On the ridge


The slope for "Route 2" lies on the other side of the gully.


Heading back to the creek


Hiking back on Grass Pass


82 J/7 Mount Head

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