This trip has little to recommend, but at this time of year there are few options and this trip offers views of possible summits to attempt another time. After a long approach we only reached the base of cliff, not even a summit.
Following a creek won't result in a loop, of course, but after hiking up Cougar Creek we took the east fork, climbed over a ridge, and returned on the northwest fork.
When we set out on the trail, I was hoping to reach a ridge in an area that was rugged, rife with cliffs. Summiting was out of the question but I wanted to climb at least high enough to study the surrounding peaks.
Initially we thought we could hike up the right fork and climb the skyline ridge. However, an hour later the skyline ridge was still far away, so we left the creek and blindly headed up a wooded slope.
Much of it was steep and wooded. I was concerned we would have to turn back but eventually we appeared on a knob. From there we could see a scree gully that looked possible to ascend although a cliff above it barred the way from climbing higher. After working through more trees we came out on the gully. We struggled up the scree to a cliff face and then headed left along its base. We soon reached a corner at the cliff base which was as high as we could go. Everywhere impossible cliffs towered above us.
Rather than go back the same way, we decided to take a chance and descend the west slope. We soon hit a cliff band that worried us; if forced to turn back it would have made for a very long day. But after following it a ways the cliff band ended and we dropped down to the creek bed of the left fork.
Hiking up Cougar Creek
Ice forms a stained-glass pattern on Exshaw Creek
After hiking 2 hours and 7 km, our goal came into view. Our route runs left to right, partially hidden in a gully.
Hiking up the slope
Mostly we bushwhacked up the slope; there were few breaks in the trees
Looking at our ascent gully
In the background are The Three Sisters
Heading up the scree gully
Huge cliffs blocked the way ahead so we went left
At the base of the cliffs. Mount Fable on the right.
We climbed as high as we could, to the rock corner ahead
Following the base of the cliffs
Mount Fable in the background
We reached a dead end as far as a vertical ascent
Looking down at Cougar Creek
This is as high as we were able to climb. Cougar Peak on the left.
An enormous and unusual rock block (mouse over) sits below Little Mythic Tower
Starting our descent
We followed a scree slope down
Almost at the bottom
82 O/3 Canmore