March 24, 2012
This March was a bit less than ideal with one storm after another. The snowfall amount had broken the record so probably every mountain in the Rockies would require snowshoes now. Finally, a high pressure ridge moved in and we got a bluebird weekend over the entire western Canada!! Folding Mountain is a somewhat not-so-well-known objective near Hinton, outside Jasper National Park boundary. It receives much less attention than the nearby Roche a Perdrix. Approaching from Edmonton, the trail head is about 15 minutes drive west of Hinton and marked by a huge yellow hiker sign (bigger than your head). It’s also probably the closest mountain one can get to from Edmonton.
I would say, if you have to do the entire thing on snowshoes, then do NOT underestimate this mountain. It has a fair amount of total elevation gain (1200m?) with a long approach. We were lucky to saw fresh snowshoe tracks at the beginning, only to find it completely disappeared after the first significant elevation gain. I think the folks who made the trail turned back here. They made roughly 1/4 of the way up. Most part of this mountain is forested with lots of up-and-downs. The trail-breaking was a bit tedious and we lost the trail soon. We even saw some cougar tracks (not very sure) near one boulder opening area. I felt nervous when seeing large animal tracks. Good thing we did manage to regain the trail. The trail was very easy to follow despite the snow cover. Near the treeline we got onto a ridge feature with some brief exposure on the left (north) side.
The last 150m or so elevation gain was on scree and talus. I would say it’s easy scrambling to the summit due to the steep and loose terrain. From the summit, it appeared like I could walk on the ridge all the way to Fiddle Peak without difficulties. Mom was way behind me at this point, so I started the traverse towards Fiddle by myself. However, after dropping down 100 meters or so and regaining elevation to a bump I realized that this traverse could be much longer than appeared. Apparently I wouldn’t have enough time so I turned back. Mom still hadn’t showed up once I got back to the summit of Folding Mountain. I went down to check and found that she stopped just below the steep scree, and she said she couldn’t handle it by herself. I had to help her finding some “solid” footings and it took her forever to get up to the summit. So, like I said before, it’s easy scrambling, not hiking. We explored the ridge leading towards south-east for a while.
The descent was nothing but tedious due to the several uphill sections and our round trip time was about 11 hours. It would be extremely boring if you are alone. On the way driving to Jasper, we stopped at several viewpoints to take advantage of the sunset hours. We got several great shots of Roche Miette, the mountain that I ascent one month ago.
Despite the long approach in forest, the summit view is excellent. Although Roche a Perdrix has better scrambling involved, Folding Mountain do stand on a relatively isolated position, and as a result, you can see more mountains that you wouldn’t see from Perdrix. And next day!