September 16, 2012
Yoho – Lake O’Hara, BC
Mt. Schaffer is not a prominent summit by any mean, but does tower about the lakes in Lake O’Hara region by a few hundred vertical meters. That makes it an ideal viewpoint and in fact, among the few peaks I’ve ascended in this area Mt. Schaffer has some of my favourate views. The north ridge appears formidable from Lake O’Hara and involves some “border line scrambling” while its south slope is a mere “easy scramble”. The route I took was obviously, the easy option and I did it after finishing the nearby Little Odaray in the morning.
The descent along Odaray Prospect trail was nice and scenic and then I ascended towards Lake McArthur along its Highline trail. This trail goes through a rock chimney. Every single corner of Lake O’Hara never fails to amaze me and just as expected, another big WOW moment waited for me at Lake McArthur!!
The ascent slope of Mount Schaffer looked straightforward but the downside was, it’d be a long and tedious plod… Good this was, the scree wasn’t that loose despite the appearance. I quickly gained the shoulder, known as Schaffer Ledge, where I took the 2nd break of the day (first break was at the summit of Little O). I quickly consumed a muffin. Looking back, Lake McArthur looks like a volcano crater! It’s a must-visit area in the Rockies.
The upper ridge appeared a bit more than”easy scrambling” though, but once starting the ascent, you’ll find it’s actually just as straightforward. There’s a beaten path and a ton of cairns so route-finding was reasonably easy. I followed the ridge crest which involved some moderate scrambling, but most, if not all of the difficulties were circumventable on climber’s left side if I didn’t mind some side-hilling. The summit was shortly attained. It’s actually the west end of Schaffer Ridge, but a huge summit register helped me confirming I made to the summit. I also scrambled to the next high point along the ridge which was only 5 minutes away.
It was only 3 pm and I thought I should hurry up and catch up the 4:30 pm bus. Therefore I didn’t stay long but quickly made my way down the slope. Descending from the summit of Mt. Schaffer was fast and it only took me 20 min ish to get back to Lake McArthur. The afternoon sun was much better for photographing this lake.
Shaffer Lake looks much better in the afternoon which was another bonus for the day. After that I ran down the switchback section, and quickly made my way down to Elizabeth Parker Hut. Mt. Huber looks impressive, as always. At the end of the day, I went to the Lake O’Hara lake shore for quick photos. Round trip time: 7.25 hours bus to bus.
Lake O’Hara is definitely the heaven on earth, especially in larch season. I can’t recommend more for those who hasn’t visited this area before.. The reality is much better than what the photos show, and you gotta have to experience it by yourself. For peak-baggers, there’re 4 scrambles in this area: Little Odaray, Mount Schaffer, Yukness Mountain, Wiwaxy Peaks East Tower. I’ve got 3 of them, and even if I got all 4, I’ll come back for sure. I generally don’t go on a trip without ascending a peak, but this area is an exception.