Sofa Mountain
Waterton, Alberta
July 3, 2010

In choosing to climb Sofa Mountain this weekend, we were doubly fortunate. First, it appeared to be the only peak in Waterton that wasn't shrouded in low cloud, and second, a chance meeting had Dinah and I team up with other scramblers. Not only did we climb the only clear peak around, but we did so in fine company.

The trip began after Dinah and I parked at the trailhead, when a car pulled up behind us. We all got out and after introductions – none of us had met before – we agreed to climb Sofa together. Siva, Jen and Tom, from Calgary Meetup, were in Waterton for the Canada Day long weekend. Tom, who had climbed Sofa before, suggested we do a loop: ascend the northeast ridge as per Andrew's route, but descend the north ridge.

The hike up the easy trail, wooded at first, gave everyone a chance to become acquainted. But conversation faded when we reached the bottom of the ascent ridge and we saved our breath for the steep climb ahead. After climbing, the grassy ridge flattened out before it rose again and hit steep rock. As Andrew says, here is excellent scrambling.

Straight off, we took a chimney on our left that led to easier terrain. That didn't last long as we were soon hauling ourselves up more steep rock. After crossing a rocky shoulder we faced a buttress.

After scrambling up, we faced only a walk to the summit. Because of low clouds we couldn't view any nearby mountains. In fact, there was nothing to keep us on the top of Sofa for long. We headed back.

We turned onto the north ridge and followed it to the end. Inadvertently, we passed the weakness in the side of the ridge where we had planned to exit. Instead, we came off the end and scrambled down a steep but delightful gully. As we neared the bottom, we veered left, dropping down to the valley where we found the trail. We hiked back to our cars.

Dinah and I are certainly glad to have met Tom, Siva and Jen on Sofa Mountain. Because of them, we had more fun than we expected and came down an enjoyable descent route to boot. One of these days, Dinah and I must officially climb with the Meetup group.

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Our first clear view of Sofa Mountain (summit hidden)


We ascended the ridge on the right and descended the ridge on the left.


We'll leave the trail soon and start up the end of the ridge.


Jen and Dinah pass a small window.


After ascending the end of the ridge, a broad shoulder leads to steep rock.


Closing in on the rock


Dinah scrambles up with Layla dogging her steps.


Topping out of our first chimney


More steep rock above


And more scrambling


Our last scrambling section


Jen and Siva ascend another chimney.


The summit is two kilometers away.


Walking on snow


Stroll along the ridge


Looking back


Almost at the summit


Me, Dinah, Tom, Siva, Jen and Layla by the summit cairn


Starting back


We head to the north ridge.


Chief Mountain


We checked out the east ridge but didn't have time to try it.


Starting down


Looking for a way down the steep terrain below us


Below are narrow ledges and we tackle them one at a time.


We pop out of a cliff band at different places (mouse over to view the other way).


We're at the top of a shallow gully.


The grade eases.


Well down the gully


We reach rubble near the bottom. In front is the ascent ridge.


On the trail. The descent gully can be seen in the upper left.


Lower waterfall


82 H/4 Waterton Lakes


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