On Tuesday, I ignored the wintry forecast for
Calgary and headed out to the south part of Kananaskis to reach Hailstone Butte (a fire lookout) and eventually plod on to Sentinel Peak. Both mountains are somewhat connected with an adjoining ridge, making for a fun trek on high elevated ridges. I had hoped to make up for the long drive with a full day of scrambling. (The drive to Livingstone from Airdrie is about 2 hours and a bit — an hour and a half to the forestry road, then more driving along that cool but sketchy gravel mountain road.) In the end, it was a very nice and bright day in the area, so it wasn’t the weather that turned me around — it ended up being the snow conditions on the mountain and my choice of route.
In the summer, getting to the Hailstone summit would probably only take about
30-40 minutes. However, in the snow and ice, it took me about an hour to reach near the top, following the route via the Hump. (I had a few problems with my crampons too.) When I got to the rockband, I thought I could bypass some of the high cornice (edge of snow on the top), but was unable to find a safe way beyond it without an exposure to a fall. There are other routes to the top and next time I attempt the mountain,
I’ll probably take the less direct route to avoid the steeper snowy
inclines. So, I took a few nice pano pictures
and slid my way down to "the Hump", a small but neat outlier of Hailstone Butte. There were quite a few rock ribs that I climbed over, adding some neat snowless scrambling to the day. I realized how much I really like the area — out of the way, but not frequented by throngs of people. I’ll be back for sure. More photos on the flickr set.