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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 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. Over the years, passing hooves had apparently 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 several hours to reach the 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

Looking back

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

Passing beneath Holy Cross Mountain

We left the trail and started up the side creek

Following the creek

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

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

Looking back

We headed to the ridge above me

Grinding up the rubbly slope

Looking back at Bull Creek Hills

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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