Mount Lady MacDonald

May 19, 2012

2605m

Canmore, AB

The original plan for this May long weekend was a few snowshoe ascents along Icefield Parkway, but I changed my mind at the last minute while driving through the Canmore corridor. The front range peaks appeared mostly bone dry and I was keen on “dry scrambling” after an ever-lasting winter season. My first objective would be the knife-edge Mt. Lady MacDonald which I failed twice trying to tag its true summit in winter condition.

Mt. Lady MacDonald standard scramble route

Mt. Lady MacDonald standard scramble route

My first attempt was on the Day 4 of my solo Christmas peak-bagging mission. I was tired and started the ascent late (well, 9:30 am start in December was a late start). I lost the trail just before a large meadow/opening area and went straight up.. Not far up I encountered a boulder field, and found a large carcass of goat or deer… There must have been a cougar around and I didn’t even have a bear spary… I freaked out and ran down the mountain.

Two days after, I armed with a spray and a knife. This time I found the correct trail. Reaching the final summit ridge imposed no difficulty. This was my first time doing “difficult scramble”, and I chose Lady MacDonald in winter, went soloing. Just before the true summit there’s a slight dip. This was a bit north facing and the narrowest part was double-corniced. This part of the ridge was also slabby. I didn’t want to die on that day, so I bailed the attempt.

Morning view of Three Sisters from near the parking lot

Morning view of Three Sisters from near the parking lot

The upper slope was pretty wind-blown.

The upper slope was pretty wind-blown.

Now came the summit ridge.

Now came the summit ridge.

There’s no way I’d fail it the 3rd time given the dryness of this day. The ridge imposed no difficulty this time (but still, the exposure is real). With a few “difficult scrambles” under by belt I could easily balance myself along the first section of the summit ridge. Then it’s a walk up to the final dip before true summit. The rock was very grippy this time so I soon stand on the summit. I spent roughly 15 min to traverse the entire summit ridge, while I’ve heard some people used 1 hour to do so. I’m very satisfied but since I was soloing, I couldn’t get a decent photo of the ridge with people on it. It’s Saturday so I knew there would be many scramblers coming up. I waited for about 1 hour but it was starting to get quite chilly up there, and nobody showed up so I went back…

Matt Clay and Sandra at trail-head.

Matt Clay and Sandra at trail-head.

Morning view of Bow Valley

Morning view of Bow Valley

Cascade Mountain

Cascade Mountain

Canmore Corridor

Canmore Corridor

The summit ridge was much less snowy this time.

The summit ridge was much less snowy this time.

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size.

Summit Panorama. Click to view large size.

Mount Lougheed

Mount Lougheed

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

The exposure!

The exposure!

Coming back the crux dip was easier for sure. I waited another 15 min or so after getting back to the safe side of the summit ridge. Two girls topped out. After talking to each other briefly, I said I can lead them to the summit and I did’t mind to re-do the entire ridge. Lindsay stopped just before the crux dip, while Diana and I made to the summit. I did got some good shots of how serious the ridge was.. The descent went uneventfully.

Diana and Lindsay challenging the ridge.

Diana and Lindsay challenging the ridge.

Dipping down just before the false summit. It's a piece of cake here.

Dipping down just before the false summit. It’s a piece of cake here.

Scrambling up towards false summit

Scrambling up towards false summit

Diana challenging the crux, while Lindsay called it a day.

Diana challenging the crux, while Lindsay called it a day.

The crux.

The crux.

Me on the summit

Me on the summit

I went back and forth the crux just for some photos.

I went back and forth the crux just for some photos.

Me going back to the summit to retrieve my camera.

Me going back to the summit to retrieve my camera.

Diana descending from the true summit

Diana descending from the true summit

Going up the crux

Going up the crux

Looking back at the scree slope.

Looking back at the scree slope.

Lots of tourists on the Teahouse

Lots of tourists on the Teahouse

I thought it was a cougar from distance...

I thought it was a cougar from distance…

Overall, if you are confident on exposure, this ridge is for you. There’s no loose rock and the slabs are very grippy. If you can walk on the ridge for most part, then you can do it in 15min, if you have to often hands-down, then you probably need 30-40min.. If someday I run out of peak in Canmore area, Lady Mac is the one I want to repeat. With a very popular approach (Teahouse Ridge), you don’t need to worry too much about bears if you are soloing. I didn’t count but I guess I saw 100 people the entire day. And then the next day.

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Comments
  1. carrie says:

    I’m do impressed. Going across that looks like life or death! I’ve never done anything that dangerous but part of me wants to. (With the right experienced person of course)
    If you ever wanted to do the ridge I’d be on to attempting it with someone with experience.

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