We were 6.5km East of Highwood Meadows and there was no trail, no flagging, not even a little cairn on the side of the road. I was with my Dad and our friend Dobby, to try the Alan Kane route on Mt. Storelk. We pulled over anyway, pulled on our boots and started tramping through the forest in the right general direction. At first it wasn't bad, no bushes only tall trees. What's the big fuss about the bushwhacking anyway? Then, we hit a swamp. Ok, now it was getting tedious.
A few hops and jumps and we were across. More hiking and then a stream. The rocks were slippery and covered with moss. Soon, we were hiking up hill through thick bushes and with no trail, our only guide was our compass bearing. Sometimes we would stumble onto nice trails but they would disapear as quickly as they appeared. We followed a huge drainage on it's left side until we came to meadows. Scat was all over the trail, with flys swarming around it. I tried to put the trip reports describing bear sightings out of my mind. No, no that's definately moose scat... for sure...right? I was relieved when we finally broke through treeline and started ascending grassy slopes to the ascent ridge. At least I'll be able to see the bears coming and have a few seconds of reflection before death. We gained the ridge after 1:15hrs of hiking. We dropped a few poles and the bear spray before ascending grassy slopes to the start of the real scrambling. The first rockband was easily ascended so I took a direct route up it to warm up, enjoying the great rock. After scrambling up low angle slabs, scree and one steeper chimney on the second rockband, we approached the difficult section.
We scrambled an 100ft long, 5ft wide gully to a small cairn (as of 2010). The traverse to the right was a little unnerving due to the exposure but soon we were beneath the crux. My Dad and I took a line to the right that had less exposure but was steeper (around 4th class) while Dobby took a more exposed but lower angled line to the left. As I pulled the most difficult move, I briefly wondered how we would get down the step on descent but decided that we could figure that out later.
After that the scrambling eased off and soon we were above the final steps and slabs and on the summit ridge.
25 minutes later we were on the summit but we made the mistake of descending too far off the West side of the ridge. The connecting ridge between Mt.Tyrwhitt and Mt.Storelk looked very, very long, although I have heard rumours of people traversing it.
Clouds to the West looked formidable so we cut our summit time short and followed the summit ridge back to our ascent route, this time being careful to stay close to the ridge. On the descent, the route did not look quite as fearsome as it had looked on the ascent. Soon enough we had descended the crux and the chimney. We traversed towards the scree slopes on the skier's right after the chimney and ran down the rubble back to the meadows.
The descent back to the treeline was fast and easy. We walked back through the bear territory and down to the highway and through the stream and marsh. We weren't sure where we would end up on the highway in relation to the car but as we broke through the final trees, we saw the car parked 10 m away on the side of the highway. What luck! In fact we had been lucky the whole day long; we saw bear scat but no bears, loose rock but no falling rock and rain clouds but no rain. So we promptly headed to the Stoney Nakoda Casino!
(but only to buy Gatorade:)
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