North of Radium, a 24-kilometre road ends at the trailhead for Diana Lake, and presiding over the lake sits The Judge. Although the lake appears to be a popular destination, few people seem to scramble up the mountain.
After an hour-long drive up the rough road, we parked alongside a few cars at the trailhead. At the start, the trail had deteriorated in spots, having been badly eroded by water. Unwittingly, we passed the turnoff and continued hiking for a couple hundred metres before realizing it. Given the boot prints we saw, this is probably a common error. The guide book gives little detail as to where to leave the main trail but if you reach a broad, stony drainage, you've gone too far. We retraced our steps to a cairn and headed up a side trail.
The trail gradually gains elevation as it winds through the forest. It crosses a few avalanche slopes and meadows where we saw fresh signs of bear activity. We learned later that there were five bears in the area although we saw none on the trail.
After reaching the lake we inadvertently took a trail that leads to a cabin. The owner immediately confronted us and asked us to leave the area. He directed us to the trail that runs along the lake shore.
Past the lake, the trail is less defined and even with flagging, we had trouble staying on it. Once we reached Whitetail Pass, however, there was no getting lost: we needed only to follow the ridge to the summit.
The grade steepened when we hit orange talus. The white rock above it is great for scrambling but it ends too soon. Although the view from the summit was fine, there are no nearby major peaks. The Bugaboos were too far away to study.
After a half hour stay on the summit we came back down the trail. At the lake we stopped to talk to three guys who had camped there. Two of them had tried to climb The Judge but turned back at the summit block. As one explained it, he was “chicken.” They said two other guys tried as well but turned back when they reached the gully below the summit. The Judge is likely to rebuff hikers, but for scramblers, it is an enjoyable moderate scramble with no exposure.
This recent washout forced the trail to be rerouted below it
After hiking through trees we finally have an open view
We saw signs of recent bear activity so we were especially vigilant on avalanche slopes
like this one
This meadow, "The Bend," winds around Mount Norman
Avoid the cabin or riskes being yelled at
After the lake we head to the pass
Mount Norman behind us
Looking down at Pinnacle Meadows
Heading to Whitetail Pass (on the right, out of sight)
Starting up the ridge from the pass. The Judge is on the left.
Easy walk along the ridge
Most of the ridge is gentle, but this section juts out unexpectedly
The ridgewalk is surprisingly long
The scramble begins at the orange rock
Looking back along the ridge
White rock caps the mountain
The grade steepens
View to the west
Mount Norman and Diana Lake in the background
Talus slope below the summit
The large, white boulders provided interesting scrambling
Almost on the summit
On the summit
Heading back to Diana Lake
A close-up of the summit from Diana Lake. It's best to avoid the gully and scramble up the rock
left of it.
We spot a black bear on the drive back down the road
82 K/12 Tangle Peak
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