July 30, 2011
Icefield Parkway (North), AB
The incredible scenery from Cirque Peak a week ago gave my parents and I enough encourage to go back into the Canadian Rockies. We were not comfortable on exposure and scrambling so we chose Tangle Ridge as the objective for first day (of August long weekend). The parking lot was at Tangle Falls, 7 km north of Icefield Information Center. We drove via Jasper instead of David Thompson which would gave some road trip photos in the morning.
The first crux of the day was to cross Icefield Parkway. You gotta have to watch carefully for traffic as most people over-speed on this part. The trail starts right at the base of Tangle Falls, rises parallel to the Highway down south for a few hundred meters. Then it cut sharply left into the forest. It’s not a busy trail but easy to follow. The second crux is to locate the exact place to leave the trail and cross the stream. Because Tangle Ridge is my 2nd scramble, I could only rely on visible trail at that time. Luckily we could find cairns that indicate we had to cross the stream. A hundred meter down the other side, we re-gained a unmaintained trail that rises steeply towards Tangle Ridge.
The trail eventually led us to treeline, where we were treated with spectacular view of the Columbia Icefield Mountains, though we couldn’t see the icefield itself.. Athabasca and Andromeda were the most eye-catching giants towards south. The trail became faint and eventually disappeared, but thankfully the terrain was straightforward. The scree was not loose at all which helped for our footings. Higher up we could see Mount Alberta, the most difficult mountain in the Rockies. There’s a huge weather station on the summit which partially obscured the views.
I waited for my parents for 20 minutes and they still didn’t show up. It was too windy and I didn’t bring extra closing so I had to get down. I regrouped with them and they decided not to continue and we quickly made our way down to treeline. Due to poor navigation skill we ended up too far to skier’s right and were forced to backtrack. We eventually made back to the trail and followed it down to the car.
Overall, Tangle Ridge proved to be just as awesome as advertised on others’ websites. I’d recommend it as one of the first few introductory scrambles to the Canadian Rockies to anybody and make sure you pick a bluebird day.