August 2, 2015
Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien Valley, AB
Mt. Bogart is the second highest peak in Kananaskis Range – the range that sandwiched between Highway 40 and Smith-Dorrien Road and extends southwards from Ha Ling Peak all the way to the Lawson/Kent Ridges. It’s towered only by Mt. Galatea above to the south and thus, one of the most prominent peaks in the K-Country. Another interesting fact is that Mt. Bogart is covered in both Alan Kane’s (via E. Ridge from Ribbon Creek) and Andrew Nugara’s scramble guides (via W. Ridge from Sparrowhawk Tarns). A few friends had tested out both options and the conclusion I got from their trip reports was to forget about the original Kane’s route and take the Nugara’s option which is shorter and more pleasant. Having Matthew Hobbs’ GPS track to follow was another bonus, so by 9 am I found myself gearing up at Sparrowhawk day-use area for a solo attempt on my 400th summit.
The initial business was to hike 5.4 km along an unofficial, but relatively well-defined trail to Sparrowhawk Tarns. In a short time I passed the turn-off to Mt. Sparrowhawk and took the right fork. It dropped a little bit and then followed closely to a creek, and about halfway up the trail emerged from the forest and into a boulder field. There were abundance of cairns leading me through this field and after that the trail started to gain height steeply into an alpine meadow environment. It’s a beautiful site but I was feeling tired, partially because of the heat (30+ degrees) and partially because of the fact I just solo’d Mt. Murchison, the big loose bastard the day before.
The 300-meter grind up to the high col by Bogart’s W. Ridge looked ridiculously steep and loose but once committing to it it’s not that bad. It’s still very loose but by the Rockies’ choss standard it’s nothing specially worse. There were also a few cairns and some paths helping me on the route-finding. From the col I took Nugara’s suggestion so ascended the minor bump immediately ahead rather than side-hilling trying to avoid elevation gain/loss/regain. Coming down the connecting bump towards Mt. Bogart involved a few tricky steps and at least one of which required detouring to the right (south) on some loose terrain.
The ascent of Mt. Bogart’s W. Ridge started with some easy slabs (covered by pebbles at places) and soon I arrived at the supposed crux rock band. I was not particularly impressed by the rock quality on this mountain so didn’t bother with the challenge. Instead I took the easier bypass route that ascended diagonally up, climber’s right of the rock buttress. There’s again, some cairns and paths indicating the increasing popularity of this route and after a long while I finally could slog back to the ridge proper. There were still a few places that I had to detour slightly to the right after this crux buttress and the view was in general, quite foreshortened.
Thank to the abundance of bugs on the summit (not to my surprise actually given the heat) I didn’t linger too long. The descent went generally uneventful as I carefully worked my way down the exactly same path that I went up. Just when I had to slog back up to the connecting bump I started to get really tired. From this point onwards I had to take quite a few long breaks. The descent from the high col to Sparrowhawk Tarns felt very tedious and the final 5.4-km hike just seemed to drag on forever… By the time I got back to the parking lot, the thermometer in my car showed temperature at 37 degrees, which gave some indication of the heat…
My original plan was to ascend Big Sister on Monday but I was too tired to wake up early and by the time I got up the sky had already turned overcast. I figured it’s probably better to just drive home and rest up. It’s overall a long weekend so by driving back in the morning I’d have less chance getting caught in the traffics.