Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 930 m View map Download GPS track
Ha Ling Peak and Miner's Peak have been on my radar for awhile, but we've avoided them due to their popularity and scarred summit views. I hike to enjoy the peaceful natural environment and to connect with nature, but the Ha Ling trail sees upwards of 100 people per day in the summer and the summit view is dominated by the city of Canmore, so it doesn't exactly fit my definition of a nice hike! Today however, a winter workday with a morning temperature of -20 C, I figured it would be reasonably quiet, and with few other options this time of year and a desire to bag two peaks in one day we decided to brave the cold and give it a go.
As this is a short hike we took our time getting ready and started hiking at 10:30. Right away we noticed it was a bit colder than expected and a quick frozen-hand check of the thermometer revealed that it was -27 C in the woods! With the wind picking up I figured our day would end at treeline, but we decided to continue hiking for the exercise. This turned out to be a good decision for as we neared treeline the temperature had warmed to a balmy -15 C, likely due to an inversion and an incoming warm front. The wind was still present, but it was tolerable.
We aimed for Ha Ling first, picking our way up between slabs, snow, and boulders, then descended to the col and quickly ascended Miner's Peak in an increasingly cold and now intolerable wind. Despite the close proximity of Miner's Peak to Ha Ling the views were sufficiently different to justify the extra 25 minutes of effort and heck, it also meant I did two peaks in one day!
While these peaks are typically easily ascended in winter - the trail below treeline is usually well trodden and it's windblown above treeline - the trail is steep and icy the entire way. We use microspikes and I'd recommend them for winter hiking, but tracks in the snow indicated others had gone so far as to use mountaineering crampons and I wouldn't consider that overkill. Some sections were downright slippery!