"Little Mythic Tower"
Ever since I read about the Mythic Towers in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 1, I've been curious about them. The author Gillean Daffern mentions that John Martin was the first to traverse the Mythic Towers. Her guide book shows roughly where they are – north of Mount Fable and west of Exshaw Creek – but their exact location, what they look like and how to get to them were nowhere to be found on the internet.
After studying the map I guessed where the Mythic Towers were and how best to get to them. Along with Dinah Kruze, I set off on a quest for the Mythic Towers.
Surprisingly, nothing foiled our mission: no fire-breathing dragons, not even a cliff band stopped us. We reached the summit we set out for, but when we saw two rocky peaks to the north I had doubts we were standing on one of the Mythic Towers. We didn't attempt them as the day was already long (six hours to our summit) and the peaks appeared unscalable from this angle.
Unsure about our Mythic bid, I emailed Gillean Daffern after the trip. I sent a map with our route and some photos and asked her if we had reached one of the Towers. It turns out, she wasn't sure either; she asked me to wait until she emailed John Martin. After exchanging a few emails I had more information on the Mythic Towers.
First I learned that The Mythic Towers are best observed from the headwaters of Cougar Creek. I checked my Cougar Creek Loop trip (now updated) and saw that we were in fact looking at the Mythic Towers from an unnamed peak. The north peak is called "Epic Tower" while the south peak is called "Mythic Tower." John Martin calls the drainage we ascended "Mythic Creek." (Read John Martin's route.)
I knew nothing of this before the trip. Our plan was to hike up Exshaw Creek and ascend the drainage (Mythic Creek) north of Mount Fable. After driving to Exshaw, we found that the trailhead for the Exshaw Creek trail had been moved. It is now west of Exshaw Creek on Mt Allan Dr. It falls short of the original trailhead, adding 500 m to the trail. That added time as did the high water level: the creek crossings slowed us. The 9.4 km hike to Mythic Creek took 2:40 hours.
The lower section of the drainage was braided and treed. We hiked up the right side where travel was easy. Eventually the drainage resolved into a rock-strewn gully. The grade was gentle at first and for the most part large rocks provided solid purchase. At one point the drainage was too steep to ascend and we bypassed the section by going into the trees.
After returning to the drainage it soon flattened and then disappeared. Ahead of us a valley led to a cirque. The steep cliffs of the cirque suggested a dead end, but scree spilling out from behind a rock buttress gave hope that there was a way out.
Once in the cirque we saw that we could reach the ridge directly. But a scree gully on our right looked like it would save time and elevation loss if it worked. We took it. After climbing up the gully I thought we would be on the ridge, but instead we reached a small saddle. After ascending more scree we were finally on the ridge looking down the other side at the headwaters of Cougar Creek. We followed the ridge to the summit.
The hike along the ridge was breathtaking. Familiar peaks were all around us but the centre piece were the Mythic Towers: great chunks of rock rising up from the ridge on our left.
Little Mythic itself is ridge-like. We went to the south high point first but when we hiked to the north high point we found it was marginally higher. It provided a stunning view of the Mythic Tower only 700 m away. It appeared to be a technical climb, well beyond us. After staying half an hour on the summit, we headed back the same way.
We were successful in finding the Mythic Towers, and with help from Gillian Daffern and John Martin, were able to identify them. I won't be knighted for bagging an unnamed peak, but it was no small achievement and the scenery was incredible! I call it “Little Mythic Tower.” Ironically, this peak appeared more tower-like than the Mythic Towers!
Little Mythic Tower from Exshaw Ridge. Mouse over to see our route.
Mount Fable from Exshaw Creek
Little Mythic (left) from Exshaw Creek
Looking up the drainage gives no clue as to what lies ahead.
Our trip went half way around Little Mythic: we would see its three sides.
Typical travel in the drainage
The grade steepens and we hit bare rock in the drainage.
The creek had been dry below us but now we find water.
The rock ahead (mouse over) is steep and smooth so we head left into the trees.
The hike through the trees is a pleasant change from the loose rock of the drainage.
The trees thin and we head back to the drainage.
Andrew Nugara calls the unnamed peak in the centre "Morrowshaw Peak."
The side view of Little Mythic is also striking.
Little Mythic isn't recognizable from this angle.
The drainage leads to a valley that ends in a cirque.
We head to the scree in cirque below the rock buttress on the right.
Heading up to the cirque
Looking back the view is neatly framed!
We need to pass by this rock buttress to determine the best way to ascend from the cirque.
To assess our options better, we strayed closer to the middle of the cirque than we needed to.
We decide to try the gully on the far right.
As we start up the gully, Mount Fable (left) comes into view. Mouse over for a close-up.
Part way up the gully. The foreshortened view makes it look shorter than it is.
We come out of the gully onto a small saddle. Mount Fable behind.
We have a lot of scree ahead of us before we reach the ridge. Little Mythic appears in the distance.
Behind is the ascent drainage.
The way to the summit is obvious. We head to the break on the far left.
Finally on the ridge
Looking northwest to the forks of Cougar Creek, a rock block (mouse over) stands out.
The highest point is on the left, but only by a couple of metres.
Mount Townsend and the Mythic Towers (mouse over for a close-up of the Mythic Tower)
Minor ups and downs along the way
Looking back along the ridge we came up
Throughout our trip we were never sure if we would be stopped around the next corner.
Five minutes from the summit we knew we had the peak.
From front to back: Exshaw Ridge, Morrowmount and Hassel Castle, Mount Yamnuska
Another look at Mount Townsend and the Mythic Towers. Mouse over for a close-up of the Towers.
Peechee, Inglismaldie and Girouard (Thanks to Grant Myers for identifying them)
We go to the higher north point for a closer look at the Mythic Tower (mouse over).
This part, just before the summit, was the only scrambling we did.
Another look at Mount Townsend and the Mythic Towers. Mouse over for a close-up of
Townsend and the Epic Tower.
Leaving the ridge at the break
We make our way back to the saddle.
Last look at the south face of Little Mythic
Back down to the cirque
In the drainage we pass by a huge rock standing on end.
On the way back we didn't worry about getting our feet wet!
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