After attempting Blacksmith Ridge two weeks ago, Dinah and I returned to try it again. This time it went without a hitch, and because of the firm snowpack underfoot we made good time.
We got the idea of doing Blackmith Ridge from Andrew Nugara, but unlike him we approached the ridge from the southeast rather than the northeast. After parking at the Smith-Dorrien Day Use Area, we climbed over the south end of the outlier west of Blacksmith. This brought us to a treed drainage running south to north. We followed the drainage to a fork (GR250195) that is neither apparent on the map nor easily discernible at ground level because of dense forest and complex terrain, but missing it would have sent us well off course. Ignoring the forks, we ascended the ridge between them. This, the southeast ridge, leads all the way to Blacksmith.
As we snowshoed up the ridge, we welcomed clearings in the trees that provided our first good views. But they also revealed a snow squall moving in. Even so, we managed to keep ahead of the squall as we cleared the treeline and snowshoed up the final, steep stretch of our trip, an open ridge exposed to blowing snow.
We stopped on a small rise where I took a panorama. Beyond this point, the ridge levelled off before hitting steep rocks, but blowing snow dissuaded us from continuing. We turned around and made a fast return to our car. On the way down, the snow squall caught up to us and light snow fell intermittently all the way back.
Snowshoeing up the gully
Blacksmith Ridge in the distance
On the southeast ridge
The outlier rises behind us
Trees begin to thin
The open slopes of Blacksmith above
Beautiful semi-open terrain
We kept right for the ascent but on our descent, we followed the ridge left bearing a few trees
An enjoyable plod up the open slope (mouse over to look back)
We were expecting pristine snow here, but instead we came across ski tracks. Behind and
below us is the outlier we climbed two weeks ago.
Almost at our turn-around point
Heading back along the outlier slopes
82 J/11 Kananaskis Lakes
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