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North Ridge Traverse

 
North Ridge Traverse

Page Type: Route

Location: Alberta, Canada, North America

Lat/Lon: 50.79440°N / 114.9709°W

Object Title: North Ridge Traverse

Route Type: Mountaineering

Season: Summer

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: Moderate Scramble

Route Quality: 
 - 2 Votes
 

 

Page By: Dow Williams

Created/Edited: Sep 25, 2005 / Feb 20, 2006

Object ID: 166898

Hits: 1261 

Page Score: 73.06%  - 3 Votes 

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Approach

This is a 3500’+/- ascent day. My altimeter recorded 3800’+ total. Bike approximately 7kms in via the Little Elbow River trail. The guidebook references 45 minutes on bike, but I did it in 25 minutes on return (relatively same gain-loss both directions). Make note of this, because I went too far on the first pass by. There is not a dominant feature that stands out in terms of where to cross the river or start the route. Keep in mind that once you cross the blue bridge and ascend a hill, Mount Remus is the mountain that starts to dominate your view to the right. There is a significant limestone wall on the sky line to the south and that is Mount Romulus. Mount Remus is north and Mount Romulus is south of a deep snow filled col separating the two. Mount Remus has some very distinctive features guarding its summit to the south (photo included). The ascent is made to the north of these features in a broad open gully that leads to various drainages from the top ridge line (photo included). Once you are dead even with this huge drainage-gully system, depart with your bike and head west for the Little Elbow River. There are no markings here. Farther south on the trail is a flag and even a little farther are some cairns on both sides of the trail. But the most direct approach and good river crossing are where I reference.
Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams

Route Description

The best place to cross the Little Elbow River, or any river for that matter, is at a braided section. Just a little downriver from where you parked your bike is a fork in the river. This section was knee deep in September when I waded across it. The water does move fast. Don’t attempt this barefoot, you will not keep your footing. Take old runners, etc. It will be brutally cold. Once across the river proceed due west through some trees, an open area and back into trees aiming for the right side of the deep drainage leading up the gully. There is no trail and little signs of previous scramblers.

Continue up a ridge of firm ground through bearberries and junipers on the right side. Stay close to the drainage. Eventually you will clearly see a huge copper colored shale-filled gully on your right. This will serve as an optional and preferred descent. Bypass this gully on ascent and continue straight up until you can see vertical water worn limestone walls that will block your route directly above and one of those steep walls goes off to the left. You want to cross the gully here as the scree becomes difficult and proceed up to the base of that wall. Hug the wall as it contours southwest. Eventually the summit block, your crux and main objective, comes into clear view. There is a good eastern spur to rest on here and have lunch, approximately 8000’.

Continue to hug the wall on your right as it eventually peters out. Then draw a straight line on wind packed snow or scree to a small separate protrusion front and center of the summit block. Traverse around right of this obstacle and you will clearly see a chimney that breaks the summit block in the center. As you near the chimney, you will more than likely observe it chocked full of snow and ice. However, as soon as you ascend into it, you will observe a decent hands on route to the left. A short bit of 5th class climbing gets you up and over the summit block wall and then just a hike to the southern summit cairn remains. The views of Mount Romulus to the south and Fisher Peak to the northwest are the most immediate. Other clear views include Mount Fullerton and Nihahi Ridge to the north, Tombstone Mountain to the south, Mount Blane to the west and the eastern group of Mount Cornwall, Banded Peak , Outlaw Peak and Mount Glasgow. There was a new summit register in 2005.

On descent I recommend a variation. Descend the chimney and glissade down to the ridge to the northeast. Stay to the ridge and cross over a highpoint or two aiming for the unique colored shale at a prominent feature providing a corner to the ridge to the northeast. This colored shale always represents soft and fast descents. You can descend past 10,000’ per hour if you kick it in gear. This route takes you right back to the drainage you ascended. Remember to aim for the fork in the river before you get below tree line. Once back across the river, return the same. Beware of the guidebook notes. Kane’s photos do not show this mountain from the approach perspective. It is easy to get confused where to start. Selectively print some of my photos and you will get off to a fast beginning.

Essential Gear

Mountain Bike, Old Runners, Alpine Ax, Helmet, Gaiters, Bear Spray

Images