February 8, 2015
Kananaskis – Sheep River, AB
Mt. Dyson is a small peak in the foothills of Kananaskis. Probably because of the fact Sheep River must be crossed together with the relatively long approach (for a peak by this standard anyway) it seems like this “mountain” doesn’t attract as many peak-baggers as some of its neighbours. It can be seen from the fact there’s no trip report available from the sites that I often use as reference. But on the other hand, peaks like this do make great off-season objectives (for the least you can chat a few hours with your friends, if not for the views). The avalanche condition in the past weekend was high pretty much across the entire Rockies so my options were very limited.
It’s often surprisingly difficult to find partners for something like this but Raff was apparently the poor soul to join me on this “exploratory adventure”. We started our trek from the parking lot by the winter closure gate on Highway 546. Right at the start we had to lose about 50 m elevation down to Sheep River. The river was easily crossed as it was completely frozen over. Is the adventure going to start from here? Because of the unpopular characteristic of this “mountain” neither of us was expecting a trail. We were fully prepared for hours and hours of post-holing as well as full GPS navigation in the bush. But it turned out the exact opposite. A short section of a well-defined trail led us to a cut line, and this cut line would eventually lead us all the way to the base of Mt. Dyson!
The post-holing was also much better than expected. In fact, there was barely any post-holing so it was a mistake to haul the snowshoes up. The heat wave apparently consumed most of the snow in this past week. There was a subsidiary creek to the NE of our objective and we stayed initially on its north side (as there was another set of well-defined trail and ATV tracks). Once the trail made a turn towards the opposite direction we dropped down and crossed this small creek. Now we pretty much aimed directly towards the summit. The forest was quite open and we gained height very quickly. There was an open area on the opposite side of the summit ridge offering some nice views of the front range peaks but other than that the summit was treed.
The descent went by uneventful and the snow was still quite supportive despite the heat. It must be close to +15 degrees by the parking lot and there were quite a few families hanging out. Those guys certainly picked a nice spot for family activities!
All in all Mt. Dyson was not an exciting objective. Save it for the days when condition and weather doesn’t allow you to do aggressive trips.