Zenfolio | Matthew Clay | Bertha Peak, July 15, 2017
Visitors 24
46 photos

Distance: 16 km
Elevation gain: 1250 m
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After spending yesterday reading and listening to the douchebags of Crandell Campground, we were eager to get out hiking again. With a forecast high of 30 C, however, I didn’t want to undertake another long hike, and decided that Bertha Peak and its 16 km and 1250 m of elevation gain qualified as sufficiently easy.

In the pitiful hope of avoiding the daytime heat we started out at 6:45 am on the popular Bertha Falls/Lake trail, reaching Lower Bertha Falls in about 30 minutes. The trail steepened considerably at this point, but well-graded switchbacks allowed us to keep a good pace and we reached the lake just 50 minutes later.

We slowed down a bit at the lake as I evaluated the numerous ascent possibilities and cooled down in the breeze. As I’d read in other reports, further southwest along the lakeshore appeared to offer the easiest ascent line, and so we hiked to a minor highpoint on the lakeshore trail and started up, soon encountering a sporadically cairned and flagged trail. The trail was rarely very well defined and there were several forks, but routefinding was generally easy and we never encountered anything difficult.

After an hour of strenuous ascent, the ridge levelled out and the summit of Bertha Peak appeared to the north beyond a small alpine and larch meadow. We had to lose a bit of elevation to cross the meadow, then started up the gentle quartzite slope leading to the summit. We were a bit slow along this section, but sped up as we neared the summit and realized that the Environment Canada forecast of “sunny, becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon” was actually code for “a mix of sun and cloud with showers and thunderstorms beginning late in the morning”. They really need to publish a translation manual, or at the very least consult their own darn forecast models!

The view from the summit was quite nice, but taller mountains surrounding the peak and rainshowers and smoke obscured what may have been a spectacular panorama. Still, we were alone on the top of a mountain, and with the rain appearing at least 30 minutes away we decided to eat lunch and enjoy the hard-earned view.

We descended from the summit on good scree a bit to the west of where we ascended, encountering a group of surprisingly well-camouflaged sheep on the way down, before retracing our way back across the meadow and down to the lake. The winds were strong and gusty by this point and it started raining shortly after we reached the lake. It didn’t last very long, thankfully, and we quickly made our way back to the truck, passing close to 100 other hikers on the way.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Bertha Lake, Bertha Peak, Waterton National Park, hiking, scrambling