Wendell Mountain, East Peak
December 20, 2014
Kananaskis – Exshaw / Bow Valley, AB
The East peak of Wendell Mountain is a straightforward ascent but doesn’t seem to draw significant attention to the scramblers. The relatively long approach with the 200-meter elevation loss from Yamuska’s shoulder must be the major deterring factor. On the other hand, it’s part of the easternmost range of the Rockies and rarely gets significant amount of snow, so ideally will make a great off-season objective.
On the first day after final exams I hooked up with a new friend from Facebook – Hayden Ewing. We’ve been talking for a while already and East Wendell seemed like a perfect introductory objective. Checking the weather forecast confirmed this plan as it’s apparent the front ranges would likely have better weather. The downside was the potential high winds but at least temperature would be warm. We met at Yamuska’s parking lot by 7:40 am and started shortly after 8.
The first section was a mundane walk to the east shoulder of Mt. Yamuska – the 3rd time for me and nothing worth noting. In about 1 hour we reached the open slope just below Yamuska’s scrambling section. Right away we got pushed around by the strong gusts.. Oh well.. Good thing was that based on the snow depth on Yam’s shoulder we no longer need to keep hauling snowshoes. Down towards CMC valley we had to deal with some bushwhacking but nothing major.
The ascent of East Wendell was nothing tricky but I had to say that scree was horrible… On the lower slopes we utilized the slabs for as much as we could but higher up the treadmill scree slog was unavoidable, with some sections on side-hill terrain. I really regretted not wearing my rigid mountaineering boots, but oh well.. At least the final diagonal slabby traverse to gain the upper south ridge was completely dry. The rest of the ascent along the upper south ridge was easy and we stuck more-or-less on the direct ridge crest.
On the descent wind gradually became stronger and on a few moments I almost got knocked off ground. The scree run on the lower slopes wasn’t nearly as great as we thought neither. It was too shallow probably due to the fact the ground was frozen… That was quite awful especially when wearing hiking shoes only. The rest of the return was long and tedious. I must have caught a flu somehow and felt quite sick throughout the trip, and towards the end that final slog from Yam’s shoulder back to parking lot really felt like eternity..
Our round trip time was less than 7.5 hours and that was actually faster than expected, as we didn’t even need to use headlamp. Overall I’d say East Wendell is a good winter objective, but too bad I had to go home after this ascent due to illness. I was planning to bag few more peaks but looks like I’ll not be able to get out until near New Year.