This is a 4750’+/- ascent day.
I rate the scramble up Redoubt Mountain a 5 star objective as the scenery by way of alpine lakes, meadows, etc. is second to none. One would assume since you have to hike past a ski resort on approach that this area would not be so impressive, but it is. The route up Redoubt Mountain is rated a difficult scramble by Alan Kane in his guide book, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, however I rate it on the easy side of difficult compared to other difficult scrambles in the book. You definitely want to take your bike for the 3.8km climb up Temple Fire Road from the Fish Creek Trailhead.
Some people hitch a ride with Lake Louise Ski Resort employees who drive the road periodically. The bike ride climbs 1100’ past horse stables, ski lifts etc. until you reach a bridge and small storage building. No bikes are allowed beyond this point and it is well signed regarding this fact. The Skoki trail starts just slightly up the road from the bridge and to the left.
Gain the Skoki Trail from the Temple Fire Road. This trail is wide and well used by horse caravans, etc. Hike 4.7kms past a tidy day use cabin on your right to Boulder Pass at 7700’ which represents over 2000’ gain from the Fish Creek Trailhead. The valley you travel in is hemmed in by Mount Richardson, Pika Peak and Ptarmigan Peak on your left and Redoubt Mountain’s steep walled western flank on your right. Ironically, the wildlife I enjoyed on my ascent through this area was in fact a pair of Pikas (photo) across from Pika Peak as well as a family of Ptarmigans at Ptarmigan Lake (photo).
Overtake Boulder Pass (evident naming by all the boulders you bypass) and turn right at Ptarmigan Lake. Follow a faint trial around the lake until it leads up into a dry drainage (August) towards Redoubt Lake. There is a shortcut I discovered (photo).
As you circumvent the lake to the east you will observe a break among massive rock slabs that create their own mini crevasses still chocked full of ice and snow. This shortcut should be readily marked with a snow patch late in the season. Either navigate your way through this maze and ascend due east through some short rock bands to the base of Redoubt’s eastern flank or just travel the 1km from Ptarmigan Lake to Redoubt Lake as before mentioned.
Ascend the most northern slopes on the east side of Redoubt Mountain.
Stay north of Redoubt Lake. Pretty much aim for the end of the northern ridge. This whole profile of Redoubt Mountain resembles a battle ship (photo). You want to ascend the bow of the ship. If you have clear weather, you can easily see the breaks through several cliff bands from below. There were some cairns in 2006 that also showed the way. Once you reach the top of the flat ridge (8900’+/-), travel south to a very large cairn (2006) and descend from the ridge some 400’+/- into the north bowl of Redoubt Mountain. If the cairn does not exist, the bottom line is you want to descend into the bowl about midway along the ridge. There is a line of large pale debris.
This section offers the best down climbing through large scree and boulders that are tumbling down into the bowl. Once at the bottom of the bowl, move across and ascend to the northwest ridge of Redoubt Mountain. Angle left through any obstacles and reach the top of the northwest ridge.
If you hit the exact spot I did, you will discover another well marked cairn. Follow the ridge, moving right a time or two to avoid any real difficulty.
You will enjoy the quality of the rock on this ridge compared to the loose debris you experienced to this point in the scramble. Eventually you will top out again onto a flat ridge. Bypass the summit cliff band (photo) to the right via a short step or two.
Once on top of the loose shale, continue south to the summit.
There was a summit register in 2006 and I was the 6th sign in for the summer (August) proving this is a relatively popular objective. For good reason. The 360 degree views from Redoubt Mountain represents one of the real sweet spots in Banff National Park
. The views of the east ridge route up Mount Temple
are 2nd to none. All of the Valley of the Ten Peak mountains are in clear view. Of course Mount Hungabee, Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria and the Louise group in general are unambiguous as well from this vantage. Not to mention Niles Peak, Mount Daly, Mount Balfour and other summits towards the Icefields. Closer in you have Mount Bonnet and its glacier, Fossil Mountain
, Mount Bride, Mount Douglas, Pika Peak, Ptarmigan Peak and Mount Richardson and its glacier.
There is no question you are tempted to descend via a ridge back south towards Lipalian Mountain which overlooks the ski resort, but without a rope and plenty of pitons, it would be a foolish endeavor. Descend the route, utilizing the one shortcut I highlighted above. I took 7 hours to complete the route, but was moving fast and solo.
Helmet, Hiking Boots (tons of scree), Poles, Appropriate Clothing, Bear Spray
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