June 12, 2013
Kananaskis – Exshaw / Bow Valley, AB
Mt. Fable is one of those peaks that “sticks out” from a sea of front-range summits, dominating the skyline and visible from many of the scrambles around Canmore and Bow Valley. But it’s not a “roadside classic” and not very visible from major highways or townsites. The standard route involves a long slog up Exshaw Creek valley and many folks prefer to combine it with the nearby Gap Peak to make a loop traverse.
The weather held better than the forecast, so after summitting Gap Peak I resumed the rest of the traverse. The connecting ridge appeared very long but actually not that bad. The crux was right after the summit of Gap Peak. You can probably avoid the difficult parts by going down skier’s left side on rubble but I couldn’t tell for sure. I went down on ridge crest, and it was pretty exposed for a long section. Once the ridge flats out the terrain gets easier immediately. There wasn’t too much to describe on this ridge since essentially I was following the ridge crest with a couple detours here and there to avoid unnecessary “difficult scrambling”. At one point I bailed the ridge and went for right (east) side looking for a scree/snow ledge, and later on at another point I went to the left (west) side to avoid a slabby part. Other than these two sections the rest was easy going and I soon stood on the highpoint between Gap Peak and Mt. Fable. The view from here was also pretty good revealing some rarely seen peaks to the north.
The elevation loss and regain was pretty frustrating and obviously I had to lose a good amount of elevation to get up Mt. Fable, which looked to be quite slabby. However, once getting closer to the slabby face, the terrain was actually pretty simple, but still, I wouldn’t like to be here with snow all around. Near the top there was an exposed scree ledge traverse. The summit view was awesome especially given the not-so-great weather forecast. It took me 5 hours from car to summit of Fable and I took a long break on the top.
Some people suggested to go back via the same approach (traverse up and over Gap Peak again), but that’s not quite an option on this particular day thank to the thunderstorms in the forecast, so down the Exshaw Creek valley I went. There was a nice snow line down the Mt. Fable scramble route and I opted for this alternate descent route. It was such a pleasure to have snow accompanying me pretty much all the way down this bowl. It literally took me no time to get down. Once out of the snow I picked up a trail on skier’s right side of creek bed. I guess Mt. Fable is getting popular because the trail was pretty beaten and I could follow it pretty much entirely out. The long walk was for sure not-so-pleasant, but at least it was all down-hill. After a long time I rejoined the main Exshaw Creek. Here the trail would soon jump back and forth across the creek, and in June it wasn’t an easy task to cross this creek. I ended up doing at least 2 sketchy crosssings on not-so-stable logs and 3 fordings.
Once out of the trail I was in the small mining community called Exshaw. Unfortunately nobody gave me a ride and it took me 1 hour to walk back to my car at Grotto Pond. This part wasn’t fun at all especially with all the big trucks passing by. I felt a bit safer to walk on the grass being at least 5 meters from the road. Overall it was a pleasant day in the Rockies again, and my round trip time was 9 hours.