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Mount Murray
Kananaskis, Alberta
July 23, 2005

Distance: 14.0 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1187 m

After a failed attempt on Mount Murray last year but a successful climb up Cegnfs, I came back with the knowledge of a good ascent route, namely our descent route from Cegnfs. We hiked past the second waterfall until we crossed a dry creek bed at 193240. We continued on the trail for 5-10 minutes to where the trail drops down and levels off and the trees thin. Leaving the trail, we bushwhacked southwest where we soon came to a wide, rocky creek bed. This is the drainage that Kane suggests paralleling, but I think it's easier to hike on it than to bushwhack next to it.

The creek bed runs between two rocks towering on either side. It's possible to scramble up the slope on the right, but we went through the rock gate. Through the gate and around the bend lay an unusual scene. Snow and debris filled a small canyon that leads to a gully. On the right was a smooth, gray rock wall; fine, black scree covered the snow on the left. Ahead, a small waterfall cascaded over orange rock and disappeared into the snow.

We hiked up the left side of the gully to the small waterfall and scrambled up the slope. We followed the drainage to a tall waterfall before leaving it to hike up a scree slope on our right.

Now we were on course with the book route. Having already bagged Cegnfs, Dinah and I weren't interested in doing it again. We wanted to bypass it and go directly to the Cegnfs-Murray col, but we disagreed on a route to get there. I wanted to traverse to the col and avoid unnecessary elevation gain. However, Phil, Dinah, and Caroline weren't comfortable with side-sloping on scree and had other ideas. Dinah and Caroline angled upward while Phil headed straight up.

Taking a more direct route, I reached the col in a short time and waited. Eventually Dinah and Caroline caught up to me. Phil was still far behind when I started up Mount Murray. When Phil reached Dinah at the col he asked her about the cairn he discovered: he had inadvertently bagged Cegnfs!

After regrouping on the lower slopes of Mount Murray, we followed a trail around to the backside of the summit block to find a wall of rock. A chimney allowed us easy access up the wall. Since leaving the treeline, we had encountered only scree underfoot and the chimney floor was no exception. Phil remarked that a person might be tempted to scramble up the sheer rock walls just to escape the scree!

A short time late,r we arrived on the summit. Nor had we arrived too soon. The clouds had been dropping all day, and soon after we started our descent, it began to rain.

We made good time on the return trip. From the col we followed a goat track that hugged the lower slopes of Cegnfs. The track dropped down to the top of cliff bands. Soon after the track ended, we found a break in the cliffs. Dropping through it, we continue around the base of Cegnfs to just before the drainage that we scrambled up that morning. Rather than try to descend to the drainage, we headed down an open slope into the forest. We came across an animal trail that led us all the way down to the drainage and we retraced our steps to the French Creek Trail.

Mount Murray goes down as one of the most miserable scree slogs in the book. Dinah and Caroline remarked that they didn't begin to enjoy the trip until they arrived on the summit.

KML and GPX Tracks

Crossing French Creek below the first waterfall

Hiking up the drainage to the rock gate

Passing through the rock gate. Mount Burstall in the background.

A layer of scree covers the snow in the drainage

We followed the drainage where it turns left before the snow ahead

Some surprising scenery in the drainage!

To exit the drainage, we ascended the black scree on the right

Climbing out of the drainage

Looking back at the drainage we hiked up. More interesting than bushwhacking!

On the lower slopes of Cegnfs. The col and Mount Murray above us.

Traversing the col to Mount Murray

On the col with Cegnfs behind

Following the scree trail up Murray

Coming around the summit block. Mount Birdwood in the centre.

We hiked below the cliff band until we found the chimney to ascend

Heading to the chimney

Starting up the chimney

Caroline and Phil coming up the chimney

Caroline and Dinah emerge from the chimney

Looking down from the summit

On the summit

Looking down the east side from the summit

Taking a break under a rock shelf below the summit

82 J/14 Spray Lakes

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