August 16, 2012
Yoho – Lake O’Hara, BC
It was Thursday and obviously hard to find partners, so I was looking forward to a scenic solo ascent. I had been wishing to visit Lake O’Hara area for a long already already and figured it’s finally the time. Yukness Mountain seemed like a right idea to use as an introductory thank to the inclusion in Alan Kane’s Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies and I’m super glad I picked this objective. The views can qualify the best in this year so far. Just look at the location of this peak: in the middle of giant 11,000ers, with tens of alpine lakes surrounding.
The day started by walking up the 11 km approach road. I’ve no interest to go in Lake O’Hara in bad weather, including cloudy and smoky, therefore booking the bus ticket months ahead sounds stupid to me. The road walk is tedious but I like long days anyway. What surprised me was, the road itself actually had quite a bit of elevation gain with at least 500 m or so. But nonetheless, with fast walking I made to Lake O’Hara in just under 2 hours. Compared with the afternoon view, the morning light wasn’t so great to picture the lake, but I still got some good shots.
Circumventing Lake O’Hara was short and soon I arrived at the junction to Opabin Plateau. I took the West Opabin route (the East route is shorter but less scenic), and soon enough I started to gain elevation up a headwall. The ascent felt short probably due to the increasingly open views and it didn’t take me long to arrive at a plateau feature. The Moor Lakes and Hungabee Lake was passed in a sequence and then after a bit of trudge, I was looking at Opabin Lake with Mt. Biddle looming behind. I managed to catch up two other scramblers from either Yukon or Alaska at the lake and we grouped together for the rest of the scramble.
The ascent gully showed up obviously and was straightforward even for novice scramblers. There were cairns here and there and it’s hard to get lost. I wasn’t keen on the lower north summit, so I went all the way to the col, where I was treated with the head-on view of Abbot Pass and Lake Oesa. I made the scramble harder by trying to stick to the ridge. This way, I would rate my route as a “difficult scramble”. The other two scramblers traversed below and their way was easier by comparison. Why did I do this? I was told the scrambling was fun on the ridge, and I have to agree.
We used the “moderate” descent route and except for kicking down rocks, it was very straightforward. To go this way up, you have to look carefully for the cairns and resist to gain elevation too quickly near the col. By the time we got back to Opabin Lake, the afternoon light had made Hungabee Mountain look more impressive.
After saying goodbye to them, I started uphill travel again towards Yukness Ledge. Because I didn’t do the north peak of Yukness Mountain, I missed the view of Lake O’Hara. Well, I made up for it by traversing Yukness Ledge. Lots of up-and-downs on the ledge, and eventually I made to Lake Oesa.
After a necessary energy break I started walking back along the trail. The descent was uneventful except for the views were just as good and exciting. I took at least another hundred of photos, and the evening view by Lake O’Hara was also much better than in the morning. Unfortunately I had to wait there for another hour before taking the last bus ride down.
Overall this turned out to be an even more scenic day than what I was expecting. This is one place that I’ll go back sooner than later for more views, preferably in the larch season. The weather was looking good for the next day so I had to take advantage of it…