Bald Hills

March 25, 2012

2400m

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.

Bald Hills hiking/snowshoeing route

Bald Hills hiking/snowshoeing route

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).

Morning view of Medicine Lake on the drive in. It was cold now.

Morning view of Medicine Lake on the drive in. It was cold now.

The trail-head is obvious

The trail-head is obvious

Following ski tracks up

Following ski tracks up

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.

Now I'm at treeline. The peak in front of me is not the summit.

Now I’m at treeline. The peak in front of me is not the summit.

Looking back. Across the valley is Queen Elizabeth Range. Opal Peak on the far right.

Looking back. Across the valley is Queen Elizabeth Range. Opal Peak on the far right.

This is one of the steeper sections.

This is one of the steeper sections.

And this is the summit. I didn't realize it and ascended the wrong peak. I went up this one later in the day.

And this is actually the true summit.

Evelyn Creek Valley from the wrong peak

Evelyn Creek Valley from the wrong peak

The wrong peak resembles Mount Hector from this angle...

The wrong peak resembles Mount Hector from this angle…

Looking back at the wrong peak

Looking back at the wrong peak

Charlton and Unwin from near the true summit

Charlton and Unwin from near the true summit

And this will be the true summit

And this will be the true summit

The summit cairn

The summit cairn

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

A higher unnamed peak

A higher unnamed peak

Looking deep south. The Six Pass Route goes into this area.

Looking deep south. The Six Pass Route goes into this area.

Opal Peak

Opal Peak

Looking north towards Skyline area

Looking north towards Skyline area

Maligne Lake again

Maligne Lake again

Beautiful alpine environment

Beautiful alpine environment

Queen Elizabeth Range

Queen Elizabeth Range

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.

Samson Peak

Samson Peak

No crazy skiers?

No crazy skiers?

The return was accompanied by great views too!

The return was accompanied by great views too!

More views from the return

More views from the return

Interesting snow formation

Interesting snow formation

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.

Medicine Lake in the afternoon

Medicine Lake in the afternoon

One of the bigger icy waterfalls

One of the bigger icy waterfalls

I played around near this interesting ice formation

I played around near this interesting ice formation

Beautiful ice

Beautiful ice

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