Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 940 mView mapDownload GPS track
Midnight Peak is an easily scrambled peak to the south of popular Baldy Pass. There are several routes to the summit, but the easiest and most straightforward route ascends via Baldy Pass. If you're unsure of the other routes I'd strongly recommend ascending and descending via this route as the peak got its name from a group of Rocky Mountain Ramblers who got lost trying to find a way down and didn't get back to their car until midnight! It's probably best to not risk repeating their ordeal.
With a trailhead just over an hour from Calgary, Midnight Peak is an excellent objective for a Sunday adventure and was just what we were looking for today. A well-packed trail to the pass and windblown ascent slopes meant we'd be able to complete the hike and scramble in about 5 hours (4h35min actually) and be back home with plenty of time to prepare for the workweek ahead.
While it was indeed an excellent hike and scramble, it was not without its weather-related adventures. The forecast had been calling for sun and 20 km/h winds, but leaving the house before dawn meant I couldn't check the webcams. Turns out it was cloudy with a ceiling of about 2500-3000 m and snow just to the west, but that's not too bad for this time of year. The wind was a different story, however. Had I checked the Environment Canada weather data for Nakiska just 10 km from our destination I would have seen that the winds were gusting to about 100 km/h and not the 20 km/h the forecasters said. I guess they forgot to check the data too. While there was a miraculous 30 minute or so break in the wind as we ascended the open slope, the wind came back with a vengeance on the summit and our stay lasted just 2 minutes, and even then it was dangerously gusty and unbelievably cold. We had to contend with the wind on the descent as well, but it wasn't as bad in the trees below the pass.
Even though I'm currently nursing my windblown face back to health, it was definitely a good way to spend a Sunday. It was also my 60th summit, with most of those having come in the past 2 years. My goal is to hit 100 by the end of 2015!