August 29, 2013
Eastern Banff Park – Clearwater Pass, AB
Located between two of the remote alpine passes (Clearwater and Pipestone) in the Eastern Banff National Park, the summit of Devon Mountain guarantees great views on a clear day. Its southwest slope and west ridge offers a straightforward way up this peak. From Siffleur River Valley, it’s mostly a scree/talus hike except for the summit ridge which offers brief exposure on some slabs. Despite all of these attractive factors this summit sees few visitors. The reason is simple. It’s too close to one of the Rockies’ 11,000ers, Mt. Willingdon.
It’s apparent that when Ben, Eric, Vern and I ventured into this remote area our primary objective was Mt. Willingdon itself so the approach and return (via Quartzite Col) are all written in Mt. Willingdon’s trip report. From Siffleur River valley we carried our big backpacks up to treeline before ditching some gears since we’d descend the same way. We all had some concern about marmots stealing our foot and there’s also rain in the forecast but weather was so far so good. Vern, Eric, and Ben decided to ditch camping and mountaineering gears only, but I figured it’s worth to take a chance so ditched my entire backpack. There’s still about 600 vertical meters gain to go and not carrying anything was certainly a bonus. For example, carrying much less weight meant I would travel much faster so I went ahead.
One thing to take note was the height of this mountain. It’s about 20 vertical meters higher than Mosquito Mountain, and more than 100 meters higher than Ramp Peak and Quartzite Peak. My reference was looking back at these three mountains as the talus slope was very foreshortened. It certainly took much longer than expected, and the constant strong wind almost made me regret not bringing my jacket up. But oh well, once I topped out on the summit ridge (west ridge), the view suddenly opened up especially towards our major objective, Willingdon. There’re a couple false summits to go over, and just before the last false summit, there’s one short scrambling section. I didn’t need to use my hands often, but it was fairly exposed with slabs on my right side and drop-off on the left side (moderate scrambling). I quickly balanced over this part and soon I stood on the summit, with fantastic views towards each direction.
After signing the register and waiting for other three guys for about 15 minutes I decided to head down. There was a pretty good sheltered spot and I wasn’t feeling very cold. My major concern was my food as I didn’t want the marmots to get them. I passed Vern, Eric, and Ben on their way up at the scrambling section before continuing my way down. The descent was painful on my knees and I went slowly. I found no surprise on my backpack which was good.
The weather was still pretty good and I took a short nap before the other three guys coming down. Our next destination was a high bivy spot at the base of Mount Willingdon.