January 4, 2013
Icefield Parkway (South), AB
This was the 3rd ascent of my early January snowshoe peak-bagging trip. I was very tired after the Mosquito Mountain, Emerald Peak back-to-back, but given the great weather and avalanche condition I didn’t want to go home yet, so I went to Canmore and checked my email. Luckily I saw Wietse was looking for partners on Friday. Good, so I pointed out several objectives, and he picked Ramp Peak, the longest of those… Speaking this objective, it’s one of the three unofficially named peaks dominating the far end of Mosquito Creek. All three are better ascended in winter and the Ramp Peak is particularly aesthetic.
Wietse and I started our day by about 9 am from Mosquito Hostel parking lot. The approach along Mosquito Creek was exactly the same as what I did two days ago, and we made a good pace. Wietse was skiing, and I was on snowshoes. On the way in we passed Tyler Cassley’s group who also planned on Ramp Peak. That was encouraging as now we thought we gonna have 5 people breaking trail. In about 1 hour, we made to M5 campground. We immediately left the trail, and entered the forest, diagonally uphill towards climber’s left side. The trail breaking wasn’t too bad initially, but got worse and worse as we progressed upwards. Wietse’s skins couldn’t get a grip on the sugary bottomless snow, so I took turn packing down the trail. At least I had big teeth on my snowshoes which somehow helped. Eventually we made to treeline and our objective came in view. At this point Tyler’s group still didn’t catch us up so we thought they had already turned around..
There were a couple of bumps on the way to Ramp Peak all requiring ascending steep unconsolidated slopes. The crux was to cross a very steep slope with a terrain trap below which was a bit nerve-wreaking to lead across. After this bit, over a few more bumps, we were at the base of the actual “Ramp”.
It wasn’t as steep as expected. Since Wietse was on skis, I tried to do some big and flat switchbacks up the slope, and it felt like eternity. We must had taken more than 1 hour to get up the final slope. Eventually I ditched snowshoes on the summit ridge, and walked to the summit which was only 5 min away. The clouds rolled in and I lost the view.
It was windy and cold on the top so I didn’t bother to wait, plus I was worrying about my descending speed. So I started the descent, and soon weather cleared up nicely… Wietse was about 10 minutes behind me so he must have got better view. Plunging step down the Ramp was much faster than expected and in no time I made back to the base. Now I could look back and take photos of Wietse skiing down this slope.
Our speed down the alpine section was roughly the same, but once getting back to treeline, the skiing became much harder. It was really hard to make turns, but I could just walk straight down to wherever I want. I didn’t notice Wietse wasn’t following me, and after I got back to the campground, I waited for 20 min and Wietse still didn’t show up. I left my backpack at the campsite, and went back up almost to the treeline, until I noticed his down track deviating from our ascent tracks…. I followed that track down and it dropped down to the other side of the valley floor. Seems like Wietse had already gone back to car so I cut sharply left post-holing back to the campsite to retrieved my pack. On the final slog back to car, I got catched up by Tyler, who also got separated with his partners. They ended up doing Mosquito Mountain. My headlamp batteries died completely on the way back, and thankfully Tyler had a much brighter one. I also had extra batteries but didn’t bother to use them as Tyler’s was so bright. When we got back to car, Wietse and Tyler’s partners were waiting for us. We all made back safely.