Rum Ridge Peak
November 8, 2014
Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch, AB
Most of the “small” peaks surrounding Ya-Ha-Tinda Ranch are either unofficially named or unnamed, and this one isn’t an exception. Ben, Vern and I did it as an extension from our primary objective, Evangeline Peak, as we still had lots of time to kill and weather held surprisingly well. We weren’t even sure about its name when making this decision. We noticed a trail-map on our descent and the lower bump just above treeline was labelled “Rum Ridge”. Now at home I did some quick Google and I couldn’t find any reference of this name. It seemed like “Poplar Ridge” being a more popular name but it’s clearly referring to a low-elevation trail, certainly not the peak above treeline. We prefer the name “Rum” as the trail-map we saw was from Alberta government, but the peak is essentially unnamed.
To make me feel better “claiming” its as a separate summit, “Rum Ridge Peak” is only 40 m lower in elevation than Evangeline, but situate 4 full kilometers away. It has prominence of more than 200 m and looks clearly like a separate mountain from valley floor. And the most important, it’s the most impressive-looking among this group (Evangeline Peak, Rum Ridge and the nearby Eagle Mountain) and offers the most challenging scrambling.
The connecting ridge from Evangeline to Rum was more involved than expected. We thought it’s going to be as tame as what we just did in the morning, but we were wrong. There were lots of up-and-downs with one major dip, along with a series of class 3 down-climbs. The ridge line was hammered by strong and cold wind as well. Nonetheless we managed to overcome one obstacle after another and made to the low col. Looking back our route looked ridiculously difficult. Up towards Rum we had to ascend very steep and loose scree mixed with some snow drifts. The traverse to true summit had a few short scrambling sections but nothing major. There are two highpoints at roughly same height so we ascended them both.
One advantage of linking Evangeline with Rum was the two peaks make a natural horseshoe traverse. By descending Rum Ridge we’d join our approach trail much closer to the parking lot. The technical crux was just after the true summit of Rum as we had to either negotiating exposed and wet ridge-crest (more like a dragon’s spine), or side-hilling on some awkward and slipper terrain just beneath it. We started with side-hilling but soon realized staying on the spine was the better choice. Some sections were fairly exposed.
After negotiating the spine, terrain started to look very similar to what Evangeline offered. It’s simply putting one foot in front of another but the scree wasn’t quite loose. It was a little bit hard on our knees and we were all pleased with the nice-and-soft ground once dipping down below treeline. Bushwhacking wasn’t too bad neither. Lower down we joined the Poplar Ridge Trail and followed it rejoining our main approach trail/road. There were a few not-so-clearly signed junctions and we got temporarily lost. Thankfully Ben did a quick GPS check and corrected ourselves.
Overall it was a great trip wrapping-up our fall hiking season. Our round trip time was 7.5 hours covering more than 21 km distance and near 1500 m height gain. With the major snow storm things would change rapidly and we’d see what’s going to happen next.