After climbing a few rewarding unnamed peaks by Highway 532, I was searching for another when I came across a J-shaped ridge. I was especially drawn to the cutline running up it. It doesn't pass near the top of the J where the summit is, but it does reach the bottom of the J. Significantly, the cutline takes the brunt of the elevation gain leaving only a ridgewalk to finish the climb. Since the cutline is such a prominent feature, I called the mountain “Cutline Ridge.”
I parked at the east end of Willow Creek Bridge on Highway 532 and made my way up Willow Creek trail. It's actually a dirt road and usually icy in the winter. In half an hour I came to a side road branching left to Willow Creek. After crossing the frozen creek, I passed through a small meadow to reach a road. This short road merges with a north-south cutline, but before reaching Iron Creek, I turned right to follow another short road. This accesses the east-west cutline, my ascent route.
The cutline crosses a couple of good-sized meadows before plunging into trees and launching up the steep east end of Cutline Ridge. Partway up, I took note of an intersecting road on my right; I wondered if I could use it on my descent.
The cutline is incredibly steep and I quickly gained elevation. Near the top, a road peeled off to the right, no doubt looping back to the intersection I passed earlier. I followed the road to a saddle. Then I stepped into the forest and began bushwhacking along the ridge. Travel here was easy as there was little deadfall and no underbrush, but I was disappointed at the lack of views. I couldn't see above the trees until I topped a rocky high point before the summit, and then I dropped back into the woods and made my way to the apex of Cutline Ridge. The summit, I learned, is open to the west and permitted views of snow-covered peaks.
I stayed on the top long enough to have lunch, take photos and send a text before heading back to the saddle. Instead of following the road back to the top of the cutline, I decided to finish the loop by descending the road to where it intersects the cutline partway down the slope. But I didn't get far before I became entangled in bushes, so dense at times I was forced to leave the road. Thankfully, the undergrowth soon eased and I quickly got back to the cutline.
I picked a beautiful day to do my hike. I encountered little snow along the route, and it was surprisingly warm for the middle of winter – much warmer than Calgary in fact. While still high up on the cutline, I removed my jacket and sauntered back to my car.
Cutline Ridge in the centre
When the road turned right, I kept left and followed a side road down to Willow Creek
Crossing Willow Creek
After crossing the creek I headed to another road
A break in the trees indicates the cutline
I ascended the cutline ahead but came down a road running over the saddle on the right
(click for a larger image)
Looking back after hiking up the cutline
After turning a corner on the road at the top of the cutline, the treed summit (left) appeared
The hike along the ridge crest was mostly pleasant
Looking at the false summit from the high point
Corral Mountain, my favourite winter hike (mouse over to view the unusual summit)
Four months ago we climbed Iron Lakes Ridge (click for a larger image)
On the summit
J/8 Stimson Creek and J/1 Langford Creek
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