March 25, 2012
Jasper – Maligne Lake, AB
I’ve been hoping to do a hike in Maligne Lake area for a long time, and Bald Hills offers a perfect introductory. This was supposed to be done during my WIM (Winter in the Mountains Course offered by ACC) as a ski trip, but we ended up doing Hilda Ridge due to the stable avalanche conditions. Well, had we gone for Bald Hills on that day we wouldn’t attempt the true summit anyway. This past Sunday seemed like the right time as mom and I just spent 11 hours on Folding Mountain the previous day and we were looking for something not overly strenuous. The decision was made that I would go ahead and attempt the summit solo while mom would follow my tracks for as much as she wanted. The avalanche condition was not the greatest (Con/Con/Con) but I didn’t want to waste a bluebird day.
Temperature dropped to -18 degrees at Maligne Lake in the morning and it was hard to get started. The trail-head was obvious, and there’s not much to say about the trail itself. The initial part was very packed down so that I just carried my snowshoes instead of strapping them on. In retrospect I should just strap them on since going uphill would probably be even faster with the aid of crampon system. After a while, there was a branch going left, steeply uphill and appearing like a short-cut. I took this branch and managed to follow ski tracks all the way to treeline (with snowshoes on of course).
At this point the true summit would be on my left but I wasn’t aware (no GPS nor map) and I thought the peak in front of me was higher so I went up that one… I realized my mistake about halfway up, but since I was there, I decided to summit this little one anyway. If the avalanche condition was better I probably would just traverse to the true summit along the ridge, but on this day, I chose to retrace my steps down to the bowl. From the bowl, it’s about 20-30 minutes of snowshoeing to the true summit. The view was superb as expected. I know most people don’t make to here though, instead they usually turn back after breaking treeline. However, what I can tell is, the view to the other side is as exciting as the view towards Maligne Lake side, if not better.
I didn’t linger any longer than necessary as mom was still in the trees somewhere so I hurried down. Due to similar characteristics, I would compare Bald Hills with Twin Cairns in Banff and Burstall Pass Peak in Kananaskis. These peaks are smaller than the nearby bigger ones, but offers superb views on a clear day.
Later in the day we decided to give Maligne Canyon a visit. It was quite different than my visit in February. The ice was melting and we didn’t see any crazy ice climbers. We decided to follow the trail all the way to 5th bridge, where the stream was already thawed. The trail got muddy slippery as well. We walked back to parking lot along the boring road, and that concluded an awesome weekend in the mountains again.