Distance: 12 km
Elevation gain: 1150 mView mapDownload GPS track
Success! After aborting two attempts before they even started due to the weather and another
within 500 m of the summit due to cold and high winds, we finally made the summit of the north peak of Kent Ridge! We followed a trail laid down by Steven Song
a few weeks earlier and then re-broken by me a week ago that avoids the tricky downclimb of the north outlier that is described in Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies
by Andrew Nugara.
Knowing that this would be a long day we started snowshoeing at 9 am, reaching the point where the route exits the packed James Walker Creek trail after about an hour. An hour later we reached treeline just below the col separating the north outlier from the north peak. This is the point at which I turned around last week for a variety of reasons, but one of them was avalanche concern and again we were faced with that risk. While I had thought I could detour to the left up rocky slopes this would have involved crossing a long gully of snow that screamed wind-loaded, especially in light of the fact it wasn't as prominent last week. Instead we stuck close to the north outlier, keeping a careful eye on the snow conditions as we went. Most of the upper slopes were bare and the snow was a thin layer of sugar on a hard crust, so coupled with a moderate avalanche rating we decided it was safe and continued to the col. From the col a close inspection of the north outlier indicated that it would've been easy to descend from it as the usual tricky cornice has not yet formed. In retrospect it might be best to ascend the north peak from the outlier via the route described in Nugara's book, a conclusion that Steven Song also reached.
From the col the ascent of the north peak is nothing more than an intense slog. We wore snowshoes the entire way up, but microspikes certainly would've worked well too as significant portions of the slope were bare rock. We were surprisingly tired by this point and it took us another 1h10min to reach the summit. Unfortunately about 15 minutes shy of the summit the clouds moved in, enveloping everything to the north and mostly everything in any other direction too. We stayed on the summit for 20 minutes waiting for the clouds to clear, and while they didn't break up until we were well on our way down, rapidly moving holes in the clouds did make for some interesting views.
We returned to the car the same way after briefly considering returning via the north outlier, which would've made a fun loop. After over 1100 m of strenuous snowshoeing, however, we were completely beat!