October 6, 2012
Jasper – Skyline Trail, AB
Mount Tekarra is probably the most photographed peak on Skyline Trail area since it’s visible from both Yellowhead Highway and the Icefield Parkway. It’s also a somewhat impressively looking peak that I’d ever wish to stand on its top. There’s some limited route beta from Vern’s ascent but it was still vague if looking for the details. I came up with some experimental thoughts that one could probably traverse up and over it based on my photos and I decided to test it out. It’s probably not a good idea to do difficult scrambling with no route beta in late afternoon and by myself, but I was there already so I had to give it a shot. It’s my last objective of the ambitious solo traverse of 4 peaks in the north section of Maligne Range (Skyline area).
After summitting Amber Mountain, I immediately focused on the ridgeline traverse towards Mount Tekarra, and it’s a long way to go. This ridge section was very scenic. The connecting ridge initially went pretty easily, but things got trickier as I approaching Mt. Tekarra. The ridge narrows significantly. This section reminds me the traverse from Nihahi to Compression. Same direction (towards north); same difficulty (transition from hiking to difficult scramble); same tiredness (the last summit of an insane traverse); same time of the day (6pm ish); and more important, I was soloing on both… I would rate the connecting ridge as the harder side of moderate scramble in dry condition. For me, dealing the wet quartz really made me feel like doing difficult scramble.
I circumvented these cliff bands on climber’s left side, but after doing so, I found there were two summits, and I didn’t know which was the higher. I chose to ascend the left one as it has a weather station but it turned out to be the false summit… I managed to beat sunset to get up here and took an excellent panorama. The gorgeous view made me feel like doing an alpine trip. Normally you won’t get these sunset views when doing day trips. The true summit (the south summit) was about 10 min away, but I really had to hurry down as I knew the descend gully wasn’t easy. I must get down before dark. I still consider myself as finishing this peak though, especially given the fact I traversed this peak. There’s no technical difficulty, and it’s only a short walk between the two summits so I’m considering this as being “close enough”.
Based on the earlier observation, I knew the descent gully is somewhere on skier’s left side. I managed to find footprints on the snow, but they’re not humans. They’re apparently sizable bear’s track… The footprints ended at the gully. Apparently the bear felt it was too steep for him to descend… But what the heck he was doing on the summit of Tekarra… I took out my ice axe and carefully descended the upper part. I would say the crux was the initial 20m or so. Overall it was actually easier than anticipated and I quickly moved down the gully.
I could see the evening view of Jasper townsite, but too bad I couldn’t get a photo of it without blurring.. I carefully descended the last boulder section of the day to safer ground. Because of the snow I didn’t have to use headlamp until about 1 hour later. I descended diagonally downhill while side-sloping around Signal Mountain. Eventually I managed to re-join my footprints and followed them back to Signal Mountain road. I took a necessary break and after that, I ran down the final 8.5km. Round Trip time: 14.5 hours.