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Red Ridge (direct approach)
Kananaskis, alberta
March 10, 2006

We had planned to snowshoe up the north ridge of Mount Buller which I hiked up in the fall (see report) but a navigation error caused us to climb Red Ridge instead. We set out for a waypoint for the lower section on Buller Ridge that I had set, but for some reason -- a combination of GPS error and inattentiveness -- we ended up on the wrong ridge. And that was okay as it was a beautiful day to be in the mountains!

But the conditions were terrible for snowshoeing. The deep, sugary snow provided no traction or support for ascending (on our descent we often slid out of control). It took us 2.5 hours to reach the treeline and it was miserable going the entire way. Our difficulties in the snow played a part in distracting me from concentrating on our original goal: I spent too much time trying to get around deadfall and gullies.

Fortunately, our unplanned ascent served us well. Although we had done a winter ascent up Red Ridge two years ago, this route proved to be more direct albeit steeper. It took us above the treeline where we could view the surrounding peaks buried under snow and gleaming in the sunshine. When we reached bare rock, we removed our snowshoes and continued up the ridge.

We stopped well short of the summit however. Having already bagged the peak in winter we felt little impetus to do so again. Also bad weather was moving in fast. Some nearby peaks were already hidden by snowfall. By the time we returned to the trees, the skies had turned gray and soon it began to snow.

Despite the error we had a great day. We climbed nearly 100 m more than we had planned and spent more time above the treeline which was fine by us!


Soon after starting, we crossed the drainage


Burnt trees from some long-ago forest fire


Coming out of the trees


Mount Sparrowhawk sets the background.


Spray Lake comes into view behind us.


Heading up the ridge, sans-snowshoes


As far as we got. Mount Bogart in the centre (mouse over for a close up).


Huge cornices line the ridge


More cornices (click for a larger image)


Going through snow drifts on the descent


Retracing our steps back


View to the north, Big Sister (Centre) and Rimwall (right)


Heading back to our snowshoes


Mount Nestor. The four dots on the lake are ice fishing huts (mouse over)


82 J/14 Spray Lakes Reservoir

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