Yates Mountain & McConnell Ridge Traverse
Two days after Calgary was hit by a snowstorm, we assumed the mountains would be under fresh snow, so we settled on hiking up Yates Mountain for exercise. But there was little fresh snow in the mountains, and after a vapid hike up Prairie View Trail to Barrier Lake Lookout on Yates, we decided to traverse McConnell Ridge.
McConnell Ridge extends south from Yates. To reach it, we started down the trail to Jewell Pass. We soon left the trail – and the crowds – to go up the ridge. It was thick with trees and with so few views, that we lost track of where we were. After a few ups and downs, we reached a tiny, pathetic cairn that marked the south summit. (If there was a cairn on the north summit, we missed it.)
The map showed a side ridge that splits east from the main ridge after the south summit. When we saw the side ridge through the trees, we thought we should try it. This ridge, if cliffs didn't prevent us, would be the quickest way down.
Since we had passed the side ridge before noticing it, we had to backtrack to get to it. The ridge appeared steep although trees and terrain obstructed much our view. As we descended, I expected to be stopped by cliffs. But when the way down appeared too precipitous, we found we could always go left, onto easier terrain.
Nothing stopped us on the ridge and we made it all the way down to the bottom, to the powerline access road. After a 3.4 km trudge, we were back at our car.
Our trip was memorable only for traversing McConnell Ridge. Although there wasn't much to see, we enjoyed the routefinding and were glad to find solitude in an otherwise popular area.
While driving to Kananaskis, most ponds we passed were teeming with migrating swans,
looking huge compared with the Canadian Geese seen here.
McConnell Ridge (left) and Yates Mountain (fourth bump from the left)
Black-backed woodpecker seen from the trail
The rocky point (centre) is Prairie View. Yates Mountain is on the right.
Heading to the summit
McConnell Ridge (foreground), seen from Barrier Lake Lookout, is 1930 m high
Heading to McConnell Ridge from Prairie View
Except for this spot, we found the ridge to be covered in trees
Little Mythic, Epic and Mythic Towers; and Mount Townsend (mouse over to pull back)
Yates Mountain is between the trees on the left
Starting down the side ridge
Partway down the side ridge
Barrier Lake below
We started down from the treed area left on the skyline
Near the end of the ridge we found a trail that took us all the way down to the powerline road
The powerline access road
82 O/3 Canmore
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