Grant MacEwan Peak
December 2, 2012
Kananaskis – Exshaw / Bow Valley, AB
I’ve been eyeing on Ben Nearingburg’s website for a while, and he eventually decided to update his contact information. Ben has done quite a few interesting ascents in Jasper area, namely Roche De Smet, Mt. Hardisty and Mt. O’Hagan, and that’s why I came across his site. We’re both from Edmonton and we have similar peak-bagging style, so we should schedule a trip together. After throwing back and forth the possible objectives we decided to set our goal to the Heart – Grant MacEwan – Twin Towers traverse.
The wind was crazy when we arrived at trail-head and if it wouldn’t die off, Twin Towers wouldn’t go. Fortunately the wind died off completely on Sunday morning, and we kept our original plan. I did Heart Mountain on Christmas Day in 2011, so I had some memories about the route. Apparently I forgot how slabby the route is at certain sections.. It was unusually dry last winter season (until March storms), so even with little scrambling experience I could get up Heart without much issue. But this time, there was apparently more snow on the ground, and we found the ascending to be more energy consuming than expected. Still, we didn’t encounter any real difficulty until the crux. Alan Kane gives this mountain a rating of easy scramble, but I would say, even if dry, this step can be very challenging for easy-scrambling-seekers. It’s a 2 m solid moderate to difficult step. For us, we had to deal with the new snow which made holds extremely slippery. After this bit of fun, we proceeded up overcoming moderate scrambling sections hear and there, and soon we arrived at the 1st summit – Heart Mountain, 1 hours 40min.
Both Ben and I had done Heart Mountain before so the next destination, Grant MacEwan Peak would be the 1st peak. Since we haven’t gained our first peak, we didn’t do any break and immediately started the traverse towards Grant MacEwan. The traverse was generally straightforward even for hiker’s standard. There was several treed bumps along the way and treed backbone is a perfect place for holding snow. As a result, we encountered knee deep post-holing hear and there. It wasn’t too tiring and we could maintain a generally fast pace. As we approaching the last push up Grant MacEwan Peak, we could start to see the clouds rolling in, and soon after that, the forecasted snow finally arrived. The visibility suddenly reduced and we were in a white-out. We checked the summit register and it was in a really bad shape. It’s basically pieces of paper sheets, and we didn’t even bother to sign, and apparently it was full anyway.
A quick water break, we started the traverse towards Twin Towers.