We first climbed Midnight Peak last June using the Baldy Pass route described in the Kananaskis Trail Guide. (Midnight Peak is south of, and incidentally 150 m higher than, Mount Baldy.) The ascent was straightforward but the weather was socked in that day and we could see little. I wanted to return on a nicer day using a different route.
We parked 500 m south of the Baldy Pass parking lot and used the cutline as a shortcut to Baldy Pass Trail. After hiking about 20 minutes a likely ascent ridge came into view. It was treed save for some small clearings high up. Leaving the trail, we aimed for the nearest clearing.
The bushwhacking was easy but we were glad to trade the forest canopy for blue sky when we reached the clearing, although we also exchanged calm air for a stiff wind. We continued climbing and soon reached a rock spine. I scrambled parts of it while Dinah easily skirted around the rock. We eventually topped out at the west end of the ridge. This granted us a good view of the ridge leading to false summit. It was largely a hike but a few easy scrambling sections added interest. The true summit was only minutes away from the false summit.
Had we set off earlier or had more daylight we could have probably ascended the unnamed peak to the southwest as well. I was kicking myself for sleeping in!
After taking photos we had to decide how to return. The quickest way would be via the pass although the Baldy Pass Trail was hardly inviting in the gloom of the shade. We started down but decided to turn back when we hit hard snow on the steep slope. It wasn't worth the effort or the risk to descend this way.
As we retraced our steps back to the summit, Dinah called out to me. I looked up to see a raven suspended in the air not ten feet away from her, as if studying her. The strong wind allowed it to hover almost motionless. As I reached for my camera the bird peeled off and let the wind carry it away. A moment later it reappeared even closer for another brief inspection before disappearing.Returning back along the ridge in the sunshine was just as enjoyable as climbing up it. We'll return some day to bag the unnamed peak as well.
Midnight Peak seen from the lower south slopes of Mount Baldy
Mysterious marker on the ridge. The number "1249" was stamped on the
aluminum plate, engraved on the metal stake and carved in the wood
post. Anyone know the significance of this? Mouse over for a close up.
Aluminum plate reads "1249"
We were glad when the trees began to thin
Excellent rock for scrambling on the rock spine
View of the false summit from the west end of the ridge
Hiking along the ridge
Leaving the treeline
These tracks, likely a lynx, transform from paw prints to claw marks
when they hit firm snow.
False summit ahead
Looking back at a crux of sorts which offered no real difficulties (click for a larger image)
Bypassing slabs to reach the false summit
Dinah bends into a steep slope
Looking back from the false summit
On the last section of the ridge
Final steps to the top. Note the steep slope to the left, the way to Baldy Pass
Dinah at the summit cairn
The three peaks of Mount Baldy (click for a larger image)
Climbing the crux on the return
View of Barrier Lake as we head back down the clearing
82 J/14 Spray Lakes Reservoir
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