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North End of Hell’s Ridge
Kananaskis, Alberta
December 27, 2010

Distance: 6.7 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 474 m

Last year Dinah and I climbed to the summit at the South End of Hell's Ridge; it was a forest hike with too few views. Now we returned to climb the nicer side of Hell: the North End holds spacious openings for good views in all directions.

Starting from the north end of Hell's Ridge, we parked at the trailhead. After taking a few dozen steps, we came to Etherington Creek and walked across its frozen surface. Past the river, the trail wound southeast towards Highwood River before swinging north. Snowmobiles had recently packed down the snow so hiking here was easy.

When we drew near the ridge, we exited the trail and began bushwhacking up the slope. With little undergrowth, we moved easily through the trees. After a short ascent, we reached the first of a few breaks in the trees. Although we welcomed the view of Highwood Valley, the opening exposed us to a bitter cold wind, giving us a taste of what to expect on the open ridge. Sure enough, once we hit the ridge, we faced strong winds. Without benefit of trees, we trudged to what appeared to be the highest, open spot on the ridge. Past that, the ridge dropped down and climbed before it entered trees. But we didn't continue nor did we stay long. We took some photos and headed back. We followed our tracks to the trail, but then made a beeline through the woods to our car, lopping off a kilometre than if we had taken the trail back.

Hell's Ridge from the trailhead

Crossing Etherington Creek

Etherington Creek Trail

After leaving the trail, we encountered mostly light bushwhacking

Junction Hill appears behind

Highwood Valley

After turning a corner we can see clear to the ridge crest

Coyote Hills in the background

A short rock wall tops the ridge

On the ridge

Junction Hill in the background

The high point ahead is as far as we went

Heading to the high point

We didn't stay long on the summit because of the wind

82 J/7 Mount Head

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