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Lipalian Mountain
Banff National Park, Alberta
October 11, 2008

Lipalian Mountain has been on my to-do-list for some time and the Thanksgiving weekend looked like a good time to go. Although it was cold for this time of year, the forecast indicated blue skies. Like other Skoki scrambles in Kane's Scrambles book, the trip begins at Fish Creek parking.

We hiked up Temple Road and after crossing the bridge and passing some buildings, we started up a ski-out on our right. We followed a path in the small pines in the run. At the chairlift the views opened up, and we gazed up at the northeast slopes of Lipalian.

We hiked up steep scree before reaching the base of a boulder slope. At first we tried to scramble straight up, but the snow-covered boulders were irksome so we traversed right to reach a drainage which was less steep. This seemed like a logical place to ascend, but it led us to the middle of a boulder field. Unknowingly we missed a narrow clearing that bypassed the boulder field on the left. I thought we would get through the boulder field quickly, but because of our limited views, I underestimated its size: it was huge!

After a long, miserable struggle through boulders we thankfully reached the scree slopes. The steep scree soon led to the gentle, broad slopes below the summit.

We reached the summit four and a half hours after starting out. Not only had the boulder field impeded us, but we suffered from the cold. It was -10°C when we started out and our toes soon froze. I added toe-warmers while Dinah massaged her toes back to life.

By the time we reached the summit, it had warmed up a bit, and since there was no wind our stay on top was pleasant. Certainly the surrounding snow-covered summits merited viewing under clear, blue skies. We had no trouble identifying several peaks around us.

There was no reason to turn back immediately on such a fine day, so we hiked the east ridge to the next high point, known as Purple Peak. It only took us half an hour, but we lost 70 m of elevation. Although not far from Lipalian, the views here were different and striking enough to make Purple Peak worthwhile.

After reaching the summit, we decided to head back to Lipalian, although it meant regaining 100 m of elevation. The views were too nice to leave the alpine region just yet.

When we reached the scree slope above the boulder field, we headed down a trail in the scree on our right. This time, we easily circumvented the boulders above the ridge and then worked our way down to the chairlift. From there we hiked back on the ski-out and Temple Road.

KLM Track

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)


Lipalian Mountain seen from the ski-out


Hiking up the ski-out


View of Lipalian from the ski lift. Summit is hidden.


View to the southwest includes Mount Temple (left)


Dinah headed up a shallow gully while I followed the ridge


Looking back at the chairlift


Mount Redoubt in the background


Whitehorn behind us


Unknown to us, a vast boulder field is hidden behind the ridge. We went to a gully on the right but should have gone straight up.


Lake Louise from the gully


Negotiating the boulders


The boulder field is unexpectedly huge


After emerging from the boulders we realized we could have avoided them by going left


Heading up scree


The scree slope levels off


Tilted Mountain on the skyline (centre left). Unity Mountain and Purple Peak in the foreground.


The summit of Lipalian ahead


Ridgewalk to the summit (mouse over to look back)


On the summit


Mount Niles, Mount Daly and Mount Balfour


Television Peak (centre)


Heading to Purple Peak


Tarn below Lipalian


Enjoyable walk along the ridge


The scree under our boots comprised of fine, splintered rock


Looking back at Lipalian Mountain


Purple Peak ahead (mouse over to look back)


Mount Richardson and Pika Peak seen from the summit of Purple Peak


Panorama from Purple Peak


Mount Redoubt (mouse over for a close up) and Unity Mountain in the foreground


Back on Lipalian, Protection Mountain fills the background


We passed a cornice of old snow


Taking a trail down the scree


Reaching the bottom of the scree slope


We bypassed the boulder field by going right


Easy travel here but we still have to negotiate rocky terrain below this


Looking back at the boulder field


82 N/8 Lake Louise


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