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View from Akamina Ridge

Akamina Ridge and Forum Peak
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
September 1, 2012

Distance: 21.5 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1352 m

Eight years ago, after a rainy, miserable traverse of Akamina Ridge, Dinah and I vowed to return to better appreciate the vibrant colours of the ridge under blue skies. We returned not only to climb Akamina but also to knock off Forum Peak. And instead of Kane's scramble route, we used the popular trail that begins at Forum Lake. To reach the lake, we followed the well-signed Akamina Pass Trail. From the lake, an excellent trail threads west through the trees to a saddle on a spur. This spur, in turn, rises to meet Akamina Ridge.

On the saddle, we ran into another climber. Before we could introduce ourselves, however, he hastened up the trail, although he frequently stopped to check back on us. From the saddle he followed the trail that traversed below cliffs before sheering off and then up a steep slope. Racing up ahead of us, he was not only as agile as a mountain goat, he was a mountain goat! He wasn't leading us but fleeing. And he succeeded. He left the trail and disappeared over the side of the ridge.

Fortunately the trail was so obvious, we didn't need a mountain goat to guide us. Winding up through minor cliff bands and trees, the trail, braided in spots, clung close to the crest until it disappeared onto the broad, open spur leading to Akamina Ridge. The summit of Akamina was on our right, but Forum Peak was left, and we would climb it first.

We were one of several groups streaming up Akamina that day (I should've known better to come to Waterton on the Labour Day weekend), but when we veered off the popular route, we found solitude: no one else wanted to climb Forum Peak.

Now above the treeline, we should have relished the sight of mountain tops surrounding us, but instead we were hunched over, battling the infamous winds of Waterton. With the wind whipping our clothes, the summit of Forum Peak was no place to linger. We turned around to hike to Akamina's summit almost three klicks away. When we got on the Akamina Ridge trail, we overtook a few groups, some of which were unprepared for the cold wind. We passed one couple who kept sitting down to warm up. The girl enviously eyed my gloves and wished aloud they had brought some.

Despite the efforts of the wind to blast us off the ridge, Dinah and I made the summit of Akamina. I took a panorama, and then we hastened down the other side. This was a loop hike. The trail descended down red scree and then dropped into the forest to Wall Lake, a tranquil setting for a break before hiking 5 km back to the trailhead.

KML and GPX Tracks

Akamina Pass: a cutline left of the photo is more direct, but we took the trail to Forum Lake

En route to Forum Lake we stopped at Forum Waterfall

I was surprised to see a boardwalk before the lake

Forum Lake: the trail begins in the trees, climbs to the saddle and follows the ridgeline

Heading to the saddle. Switchbacks soon begin after this.

Looking back at the lake

A mountain goat greeted us on the saddle

From the saddle the trail traverses the open slopes left before rising steeply among rocks. The goat is in the centre (mouse over for a close-up).

We followed the goat up the trail

The trail turns and begins to climb steeply

The goat quickly outdistanced us on the steep trail

We reached the base of the cliff bands

Dinah scrambles up one of several cliff bands

The summit of Akamina towers over Wall Lake

More easy scrambling

The grade eases and Forum Peak appears on our left

Before reaching Forum Peak we'll lose 50 m of elevation

We went to the centre point first

Despite the huge cairn on the centre point, it wasn't the summit

Forum Peak summit

View from Forum

Upper Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park

Following Akamina Ridge trail

Akamina's summit ahead

Looking back from below the summit

The summit: behind are Buchanan Ridge, Mount Carthew and Mount Alderson (mouse over)

Kintla Peak and Kinnerly Peak on the right

Long Knife Peak

Heading down from the summit

The last and most colourful ridge section

The trail eventually reaches Wall Lake

Wall Lake

82 G/1 Sage Creek

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