Distance: 15.5 km
Elevation gain: 1230 m View map Download GPS track
For most of this winter, the weather, avalanche risk, and an unusual double-dose of illness has kept me from the mountains, and most of the time when I did get out my illness-triggered asthma limited me to easy walks in the front range. Today, however, with spectacular weather forecast I decided to ignore the fact that breathing was still moderately difficult and head out for a real hike; sitting at home trying to recuperate sure hadn’t worked, so as a scientist I logically had to try something different.
My destination for the day was the south end of the Livingstone Range, a hike I’d been wanting to do for a few years now. I parked the truck at the big bend in the road leading to the Frank Slide Interpretive Center, then started hiking along the dirt road that continued straight at the bend. I’d planned to drive along this unmaintained road, but decided there was too much snow to safely do so and thus had to walk about 2 km to the usual, summer-accessible, trailhead.
When the road intersected a wide pipeline cutline I turned east onto it and easily followed it all the way to the ridgecrest. While there was lots of snow in the forest, the vast majority of the route from the point where I intersected the pipeline was snow-free and my microspikes and snowshoes served only as training weights, although I did leave my snowshoes behind further along the ridge when it became clear they would definitely not be needed.
Unfortunately, despite a forecast of light, 15 km/h winds, it was blowing a moderate gale on the ridge (60 km/h by my anemometer) and I had to bundle up in near full winter gear to stay warm, despite the sun. It wasn’t that bad really, but I’d been looking forward to a relaxing ridge walk and being buffeted by the strange multi-directional wind sure took most of the fun out of it.
Travel along the ridge was overall very easy, but I did encounter two areas that could be considered (very) easy scrambling. The first was a large cliff band that blocked the crest of the ridge, but by detouring a little to the east (right) I was able to find an easy way through. Immediately after this the ridge narrowed considerably and was perhaps just a meter or so wide in places with 5-10 m drops on either side; a non-issue for scramblers, but more than sufficient to make me quite nervous as I picked my way across. In a way it reminded me of the narrower sections on Gap Peak, although the drop was less significant on this route.
After the narrow section I followed the ridgecrest to a low point, then ascended the remaining 325 m to the summit. This final section had looked steep from afar and had been described as a scree slog in other reports, but as that elevation was covered over 1.5 km kilometers it wasn’t steep at all and for the most part I found myself walking on solid rock. The wind was still terrible and my asthma had me walking ridiculously slow, but other than that I found this section to be quite fun. As it was the first time I’d been walking on rock up a mountain since Christmas, however, it might not actually be as fun as it seemed. It was darn nice to be out again though!
After a short, windblown summit stay I retraced my route back to the truck. Near the low point on the ridge I was surprised to meet two other scramblers from Calgary; they were equally surprised to meet me as this is a fairly rarely ascended peak. It is a very nice hike with fantastic views and just enough adventure for hikers, however, so it certainly should be more popular.