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View from the knob

Spread Eagle Mountain (attempt)
aka Mount Roche
Castle Wilderness, Alberta
May 13, 2005

I made this trip twice. The first time I was turned back because of fresh snow so I returned with Dinah two days later and managed to climb a bit higher. We parked at the bridge over Spionkop Creek on Yarrow Road and headed up the wooded slope but soon came across a good animal trail. The trail followed the ridge above the creek and crossed two side creeks before climbing. Eventually it met up with a 4WD road that took us to the knob.

Along the way I was amazed by the profusion of flowers, especially glacier lilies, kittentails, shooting stars and prairie crocuses. I also saw deer which may explain the animal trails.

We hiked over the knob and started up Spread Eagle Mountain. Along the ridge we did some scrambling, but the open slope was scree. Towards the middle of the slope where there was a shallow gully, the cliff band narrows. It looked promising from a distance, but up close I was rebuffed by overhanging rock. Snow and running water didn't help matters.

When I hiked along the base to the higher cliff band I came across a chimney I hadn't noticed before. There were some good steps although I had to clear snow and debris off them. About 3 or 4 metres below the top of the chimney, however, I decided to turn back. It was steeper here and the steps were fewer and smaller. This last section is best handled in dry conditions.

A side note about this trip: On my first trip up Spread Eagle Mountain I lost my camera! I didn’t make the discovery until I had returned to my car. I suppose in a moment of neglect I didn't zip the case properly, although it's a mystery how it could have come out of my case without me knowing about it.

I last used my camera about a kilometre back. I wasn't too concerned as I could retrace my steps using my GPS receiver. The last kilometre was mostly a crude animal trail but at times I was forced to bushwhack. If I had dropped it on the trail I would have not trouble finding it. I was concerned, though, that I dropped it while bushwhacking. GPS receivers are accurate to 6 or 8 metres, enough for me to pass by it in the undergrowth.

I set off with high hopes, but after following my track log to the point where I had last used it and returning to my car, I came up empty handed. Discouraged, I drove home.

Two days later I returned to try Spread Eagle Mountain again (the above article). I wanted to retrace my steps again but I had downloaded my track log wrong. I could only guess where I had traveled when I lost my camera. It was another fruitless search.

Two days later, I decided to dedicate a day of walking up and down my route in hopes of finding it. I didn't think it was possible but I had to give it a try!

This time armed with the track log, I had no trouble retracing my steps to the point where I had last used my camera. I didn’t find it, so I started retracing the route back to my car. But about 100 m from my car and only 15 m from the road I found it!

I was overjoyed! But the question remained, would it work? It had rained a lot in the last four days. The camera was dripping wet.

I knew it was important to let the camera dry: a short circuit could render it useless. I opened all the little compartments and let it sit for two days. Then I tried it. It worked! And the photos in the memory card were fine. I'll be more careful with packing my camera in the future!

Our approximate route

We broke out into the open for short ways before heading back into the trees

Following an old road

On the road to the knob. The road makes a sharp right here.

Hiking up the knob

We finally got a good look of our objective

Scrambling up the colourful rocks on the lower slope

Looking back

I tried five weaknesses in the low cliff band but in the end, the chimney (C) seemed best

Here I tried getting up the second weakness...

...but the overhanging rock stopped me

A look at the cliff band. The chimney is at the 11:00 o'clock position from Dinah.

Dinah waited at the bottom while I searched for a way up

Typical of the rock we scrambled up

Starting up the chimney

Side view of the chimney

Heading back after being rebuffed

Pick a colour, any colour, and you'll likely find it on this mountain!

82/G1 Sage Creek

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