Devon Mountain

August 29, 2013

3004m

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.

Devon Mountain scramble route

Devon Mountain scramble route

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.

Devon Mountain seen from Quartzite Col

Devon Mountain seen from Quartzite Col

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.

Vern and Ben hiking up the mountain

Vern and Ben hiking up the mountain

Panorama view of Siffleur River Valley

Panorama view of Siffleur River Valley

Panorama view from the west ridge

Panorama view from the west ridge

The true summit of Clearwater Mountain is the left of these two

The true summit of Clearwater Mountain is the left of these two

Willingdon, Crown, Tower

Willingdon, Crown, Tower

Willingdon will be our primary objective. We would do it via the not-so-often-ascended south ridge

Willingdon will be our primary objective. We would do it via the not-so-often-ascended south ridge

Crown and Tower. They would be the bonus on top of our Willingdon's ascent

Crown and Tower. They would be the bonus on top of our Willingdon’s ascent

The summit ridge is quite sharp

The summit ridge is quite sharp

Ahead is the scrambling part

Ahead is the scrambling part

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size.

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size.

Unnamed peaks looking down Clearwater River Valley

Unnamed peaks looking down Clearwater River Valley

Cataract Peak, with Three Brothers Mountain in front

Cataract Peak, with Three Brothers Mountain in front

Looking down Pipestone River Valley. You can pick out Molar Mountain which was uniquely shaped

Looking down Pipestone River Valley. You can pick out Molar Mountain which was uniquely shaped

In the foreground are Mosquito, Ramp, and Quartzite. All of them are great winter objectives.

In the foreground are Mosquito, Ramp, and Quartzite. All of them are great winter objectives.

Looking down Siffleur River Valley. Lots of unnamed peaks.

Looking down Siffleur River Valley. Lots of unnamed peaks.

Bobac Mountain. I think it's a scramble but not 100% sure

Bobac Mountain. I think it’s a scramble but not 100% sure

There's a beautiful lake beneath Quartzite Peak

There’s a beautiful lake beneath Quartzite Peak

Mount Hector is another 11,000er on the East side of Icefield Parkway.

Mount Hector is another 11,000er on the East side of Icefield Parkway.

Another photo of Cataract Peak

Another photo of Cataract Peak

There's a glacier on the other side of Devon Mountain. Below are Devon Lakes

There’s a glacier on the other side of Devon Mountain. Below are Devon Lakes

The register

The register

Not many entries, but I saw familiar names

Not many entries, but I saw familiar names

Panorama of Pipestone/Siffleur River Valley

Panorama of Pipestone/Siffleur River Valley

Panorama of the Northeast side

Panorama of the Northeast side

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.

On my way down, looking back at Vern, Eric, and Ben ascending the last bit

On my way down, looking back at Vern, Eric, and Ben ascending the last bit

The typical terrain on this mountain. It goes on and on and on...

The typical terrain on this mountain. It goes on and on and on…

Back to where we ditched the gears. 1 down, 3 more to go..

Back to where we ditched the gears. 1 down, 3 more to go..

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.

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