With unseasonably dry conditions persisting in the foothills, it seemed like a good time to climb Sheep Mountain. Although not as dry as I had hoped, I made the summit.
Dinah and I attempted Sheep Mountain a year and a half ago, but only succeeded in reaching the outlier east of the mountain. But we nailed down a viable, if complicated, approach for Sheep Mountain.
After parking on Saddle Mountain Road, I headed up a low ridge to the grass slopes on my right. Higher up, I found the trail in the woods that winds up to the pass. From the pass, without benefit of a trail, I dropped down 40 m to the road below.
I was expecting smooth sailing on the road, but instead I found travel impeded by two feet of snow. Sometimes the snow crust held, but often I broke through and sank to my knees. This was not going to be an easy trip.
The road soon forked. Either fork worked but the right one was shorter. The road crossed a creek and began climbing.
Farther along, the road intersected a cutline. I turned south and started up it. I only had to go 250 m before I looked for the second cutline. Just before the first cutline crossed a creek, I turned right and went up the slope. After searching around, I found the second cutline.
The second cutline ran 600 m before abruptly ending. I turned south and headed to the tarn. When we were here in the fall, we hiked on a trail. This time, however, I was often forced to thrash through deep snow.
I continued south on trails or through clearings where I could, trying to avoid the snow. Soon I emerged from the trees. On my right, a steep slope marked the base of the outlier. I contoured around it to the Sheep-outlier saddle.
From the saddle I bushwhacked through the trees and waded through more snow to reach the scree slopes. After grinding up the slope, I made the ridge crest. The summit was still far off, but it was an easy walk, although the wind would have something to say about that. The wind froze my face and threatened to knock me over. After reaching the summit, I snapped a few photos and beat a hasty retreat.
I wish I could say I enjoyed this trip, but the wind and overcast sky dulled the scenery as well as my enthusiasm. Perhaps I should have waited for a nicer day.
Although I wasn't stopped and I saw no signs to the contrary, I cannot be sure trespassing is allowed here. Gerry Richardson, Event Coordinator Calgary Outdoor Club, emailed me a caveat.
To get to Sheep Mountain (left) I hiked over the low ridge in the foreground, went left around
the outlier (centre) and ascended the bare east slope.
After parking, I hopped the fence, crossed a field and went to an open slope on the right (mouse over).
On the trail below the pass. The trail wends right, keeping to grass slopes.
Sheep Mountain from the ridge, partially hidden by the outlier
On the road: the snow mostly supported my weight, but I often punched through the crust,
into knee-deep snow.
Looking up the first cutline from the road
Postholing to the tarn
The tarn is hidden under snow
First view of Sheep Mountain as I round the base of the outlier
As I continue, more of Sheep Mountain appears
From the saddle, I'll work my way through the trees to the scree slope
Starting up the scree slope. The rock outcrop above, is just that, an interruption on the
Loose rock slowed my ascent
After climbing above a minor cliff band, I see the summit is still far away
Looking back at the outlier
On the ridge
After kick-stepping up a snow slope, the summit appears close
A cold wind makes the final leg miserable
82 J/1 Langford Creek
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