Distance: 6.5 km
Elevation gain: 990 m View map Download GPS track
Yesterday was convocation at St. Mary's University. As a professor I sit up at the front in ridiculous robes while cameras of all sorts record and photograph the ceremony. It's a great event for students (I assume), but to an antisocial introvert like myself it's an extremely stressful experience! Needless to say I found myself with loads of stress to burn off today, and nothing does that better than a solid hike! Unfortunately the weather forecast was pretty terrible today, calling for showers with snow up high starting around noon, but with an early start I figured that would still give us 5-6 hours of decent weather to work with. After a bit of pondering we decided to try the Rimwall, a peak to the west of West Wind Pass and east of the Three Sisters. It's rated as a moderate scramble by Kane - something that is usually a bit beyond our abilities - but reports on the web made it look not too bad and so I figured it was worth investigating.
There are two common routes to the summit. The route published in Alan Kane's guide leaves the West Wind Pass trail just below the pass while a newer route departs the trail at a point marked with a cairn just 700 m from the road. Web reports suggested to us that the Kane route was a bit more scrambly than the lower route, and for this reason we chose the lower route. I've also hiked to West Wind Pass three times now and so had no interest in repeating it again.
After exiting the main trail we picked our way up wide open forest, utilizing very grippy slabs whenever possible. While there was a visible trail to start it quickly dissipated (or I lost it?), but the route was dead obvious and we continued without difficulty to just below the ridge. Here it became apparent that I was either off route or the route we were on was just plain terrible as the next 200 vertical meters involved a terrible slog up lose scree to the ridgeline. We were by now on a very obvious trail, but it was clearly a route meant for descent. I might be mistaken, but I believe a better route was likely just 100 m west along a ridge, a realization that occurred to me too late for any easy course correction.
At the top of this scree slope we intersected the Kane route. The summit was just 600 m away and 180 m higher at this point, but while the first 300 m was a pleasant walk the last 300 m involved scrambling through 4 cliff bands on steep scree. The first two were easy, but the 3rd and 4th were very unnerving. Sandra wisely stopped at the base of the 3rd, frustratingly just 50 m below the summit, while I cautiously and nervously continued. To a more experienced scrambler or someone less chicken I'm sure these bits wouldn't pose a problem, but to me they were quite difficult. Thankfully I made it up (and down) both without incident, and after snapping dozens of summit photos I made my way quickly back to Sandra and we headed down. Remarkably, even with our timidness up top and a lunch break lower down, we completed the entire ascent in under 4.5 hours! Stress must have a lot of calories I guess.
Overall a great morning in the mountains!