February 22, 2013
Grande Cache, AB
This weekend Eric, Ben and I decided to go way to the north to Grande Cache area. Weather and avalanche condition wasn’t too bad, but wasn’t at their best neither. A couple of Jasper peaks were high on my list, but I also want to get them done under blue sky. Given the dryness in Kananaskis and David Thompson, I was expecting no snow in Grande Cache area, and I made a big mistake for bringing the smaller sized snowshoes…
Weather was calling for flurries on Friday. A short ascent, Mount Louie, seemed like the best choice to give a general idea of this area. We left Edmonton at 4 am in the morning, and made to trail-head by 9 am. This peak appears nothing but a treed bump, but does involve 5.5 km distance one way with 750 m elevation gain. Compared to other small peaks like Ha Ling or Heart Mountain, this is as high, and twice as long.
Although snow covered, the trail wasn’t too hard to follow. However, the route was much more challenging than expected. The lower part was nothing but snow covered rocks. The snow was too shallow for snowshoeing, but we didn’t know how deep was the snow higher up. Ben and I didn’t want to damage our shoes so we ditched them not far up, while Eric kept his snowshoes on. Knee deep post-holing soon started to punish us, but further up terrain became snow covered rocks again. In general it wasn’t a bad call for leaving our snowshoes behind. The sugary snow offered no support, and everybody sank to its bottom with or without snowshoes. The ridge went on forever, and it felt like eternity to finally break through the trees. Technically we didn’t reach treeline though as the summit was partially treed. Wind also picked up considerably. Eric brought his Passport for the Peaks guidebook, but it was almost impossible to stamp his page in this strong wind. He almost managed to lose several pages.
It wasn’t pleasant at all, and after taking a few photos on the summit, we soon headed down. Going down was fast, but still, very long. We were more tired than we should be, and now we had to get ready for Lightning Ridge which would be our primary objective.