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Distance: 15.5 km+
Elevation gain: 1100 m, including small ups and downs
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Attaining the summit of Mt. Jimmy Simpson is something that I've been pondering for a few years. With several others reporting that the route was little more than a hike and descriptions of the route becoming clearer and in agreement, we finally decided to give it a go.

The trail starts at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at Bow Lake and initially follows the trail to Bow Glacier Falls. Very near the falls, turn off the trail and make your way up the slopes of Mt. Jimmy Simpson. The photos that follow help in discerning the route, as well as the descriptions available here, here, here, and here. Generally speaking, however, the route is steep and follows a series of ledges of varying widths to a large alpine basin below the southwest slope of Mt. Jimmy Simpson. While exposure is minimal on the ledges, hikers will encounter several areas where hands are necessary for stability or to haul yourself up a steep section. Route finding is also somewhat problematic, especially if you are trying to avoid the steeper more scrambly sections. Watch for cairns and bits of trail that are developing as you go along.

The alpine basin is a nice reprieve from the steep ledges, but the col that leads to the summit of Mt. Jimmy Simpson presents a problem of its own: The scree is extremely unstable and very steep. While a snow patch is present at this time of year that allows you to ascend 2/3 of the way on snow (a slip wouldn't be too bad as it levels out at the bottom) the scree you encounter at the end is ridiculously loose. It's not the one-step-forward-equals-two-steps-back type, it's the poke it with a hiking pole and initiate a rockslide type. Sandra's day ended here, but I carefully fought my way through this scree band to reach the col and ultimately the summit. Whatever you do, be extremely careful that trailing people are not caught in a rockfall initiated by the leader. Thankfully this terrible section only lasted for about 100 m and ended before the col. The remainder of the trip, including the 750 m to the summit from the col, was on wonderfully easy-to-walk-on scree.

The views from the summit are absolutely spectacular and many other trips we have done are visible, including Bow Hut, Iceberg Lake, and Cirque Peak. The views of the icefields to the west are amazing as well, and the summit also affords views of other objectives for the skilled hiker, including Caldron Lake and Bow Peak.

As a final word, in my opinion this trip is much more of a scramble than a hike. While those with scrambling experience would likely find it easy, to us hikers with no scrambling experience there were many sections - culminating in the insane scree near the col - that left us wondering why we were doing this. If you're looking for a hike with equally stunning views that will still test you, I'd recommend Cirque Peak instead. Then again, if you've done that one and are ready for the next step, Mt. Jimmy Simpson is certainly a good choice!

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Banff National Park, Bow Glacier Falls, Bow Lake, Mt. Jimmy Simpson, hiking, scrambling