Pete Irwin suggested climbing this ridge as a quick, after-work trip. I wasn't expecting much -- it lays south of overworked Prairie Mountain -- but I was in for a surprise. Only later did I learn it was called Iyarhe Ipan.
We parked at Beaver Flats just past the gate. At the west end of the parking lot, Pete led me down a trail to the river's edge. After fording it, we scrambled up a steep slope that brought us to a shoulder of the ridge. After a short hike we came to a rock band that extends almost down to the river. The left side, however, was treed and held a good sheep trail.
After emerging from the trees I was surprised to find we were at the north end of a long, impressive rocky ridge above a scree basin. We followed the ridge although the trees often barred us from walking along edge. After passing the basin, the cliffs diminished and the ridge, including the summit was treed. We continued past the summit until the cliff band disappeared. We dropped below the cliff band and started back, something Pete hadn't done on his previous trip.
After following the base of the cliff we reached the scree basin. First we scrambled up a nearby rock outcrop in the scree. From the top of that Pete spied some small caves and made a beeline for them. The caves turned out to be shallow. The largest one was full of pine needles, some of which formed a huge nest. Pete thinks it was a pack rat lair.
It was obvious we wouldn't be able to regain the ridge if we continued north, so we headed back to the south end hoping we didn't have to go too far. We soon stumbled upon a sheep trail that led to a crack in the rock band. Pete first tried to scramble up a nearby corner but turned back when it became iffy. The sheep, however, had it right. We had no trouble scrambling up the crack to regain the ridge.
We retraced our steps all the way back to the shoulder. Near the middle of the shoulder Pete showed me some good scree we could run down. Near the bottom we angled right and came to the beaver ponds just when it started raining. There doesn't appear to be any sign of fresh beaver activity. When I have a mind to, I want to follow the three-kilometre interpretive trail to find out what the story is.
We followed the right shoreline as best we could because of the steep slope and trees. We arrived back at Elbow River where we had left our sandals and again forded the chilly Elbow River.
If anyone is looking for a quick scrambling fix, this would be it.
Iyarhe Ipan from the highway. Ascent starts on the left and follows the ridge.
Only the false summit is seen here.
After crossing Elbow River we scrambled straight up the slope ahead
We've already ascended a good way up the slope
After topping out we hiked along the shoulder to the false summit
Looking back at the ridge. We'll use the scree here on our descent. Prairie
Mountain looms in the background.
We followed a sheep trail in the evergreens on the left to reach the false summit
The sheep trail was well-defined
The trail topped out on the false summit at the end of a rocky ridge. Note the rock
outcrop on the scree slope on the far right that we later climbed.
Looking back at the shoulder and Prairie Mountain
Partway along the ridge (mouse over to zoom out)
Looking back along the ridge
After passing over the summit, Pete heads for a cave
Pete makes himself at home in the tiny cave
After the cave, we go around the end of the cliff band and head north
When we reached these rock outcrops we scrambled up the first one
Pete decides not to attempt the second rock outcrop.
The rock is unstable and it's sheer drop on the left.
From the rock outcrops Pete sees some caves (mouse over for a close-up)
From the caves we catch a sheep trail and follow to a crack in the cliff band (mouse
over to zoom out)
We tried this corner left of the crack but backed down. Later we
learned there was a lot of loose rock above it.
The crack seemed to be a continuation of the sheep trail
(mouse over for another view)
We returned to the north end of the rock ridge where Pete had placed a log to mark
the top of the sheep trail
After coming down the scree we came across this large ant hill. Indeed, ant hills
were prolific on the slope.
Our descent ends at the beaver ponds. This is one of many dams.
There are also beaver huts like this huge one
It's raining as we cross the Elbow River again
823 J/15 Bragg Creek
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