May 21, 2012
Kananaskis – Exshaw / Bow Valley, AB
On the third day of this May long weekend, I woke up under a cloudy sky in Canmore. The nearby peaks including Grotto, Rundle, Cascade and Lawrence Grassi were all engulfed in clouds. In this condition, I was a bit short of motivation and ambition. I abandoned my “plan A” – Gap to Fable traverse and opted to ascend Mt. Yamuska instead. This is easily one of the most often ascended peaks in Kananaskis Country and well documented in Alan Kane’s Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. It’s not a tall peak out there, but surely an impressive one.
The standard way to scramble this peak is by the east-to-west traverse since that gives the best scree run on descent. However, I would rate the crux step “moderate” instead of the “easy” in Kane’s book. If you want to down climb, it’s definitely a moderate scramble; if you choose the cable route, then it’s quite exposed.
I didn’t start the trip too early and not far up, I passed a large Korean group. The leader was a fellow ACC Edmonton section member who’s going with SIM (Summer in Mountains) course next weekend. Small world!! Following the trail I had no problem reaching treeline and then the broad ridge was easily followed until near the crux.
At this point I had to watch closely for the cairns as they did do a good job marking the route. I opted for the “cabin option” as it’s the technically easiest, although I did find the exposure to be quite real. After the crux I got to descend a bit to traverse around a cliff band. Other than that, it’s quite straightforward. If you have been doing bigger peaks, you will be surprised how short this mountain is. I stayed on the summit for a long time.
Eventually it’s time to get going again. The descent via west side offered the longest scree ski that I’d ever done. It was just as fun as advertised on other sources. While traversing below the impressive face, I could spot a few climbers above, and the rest of the trailed descent was uneventful..
Even though I was doing it at a very slow pace, I still made back to car at 2pm… Oh well, that’s too early to call for a day, I decided to head to Baldy for an afternoon ascent.