Zenfolio | Matthew Clay | Fossil Mountain, Sept. 25, 2016
Visitors 51
48 photos

Distance: 25 km
Elevation gain: 1385 m
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A few years ago Sandra and I spent an entire day wandering around the beautiful lakes and larches of the Skoki area. This year we decided to go back, but rather than admiring them up close we instead elected to scramble up a mountain to get an aerial view of the entire region. Fossil Mountain, located at the heart of the Skoki region and an easy scramble even in the snowy conditions we were expecting today, was our objective.

After a very early wake-up in Calgary we started hiking up the Temple Fire Road at 7:40 am. While the surface was rock hard and that’s hard on my feet, the road wasn’t nearly as numbing as I remembered it being and within 45 minutes at a comfortable pace we reached the lodge and started up the trail. A bit over an hour later we reached Boulder Pass, had a quick lunch in a cold wind, then headed for Deception Pass. We weren’t in particularly high spirits as low cloud capped most peaks over 3000 m, a cold wet wind was blowing, and the trail was in terrible condition, but we pushed on anyway and were marginally encouraged by an infinitesimally small patch of blue sky over Fossil Mountain.

From Deception Pass we started up the mountain. The ascent was initially quite gentle, but after a short 20 m descent the slope steepened considerably. As the mountain was entirely snow-covered I was a bit concerned about avalanche risk, especially since an avalanche had run the entire length of nearby Brachipod Mountain sometime earlier in the week. Today the snow was rock solid, however, and with the dismal weather there was no concern about solar radiation destabilizing it.

Our progress up was both aided and slowed by the snow. In most sections it was deep enough that it anchored the loose rock underneath and allowed us to kick steps into it, but above 2700 m or so long sections were knee deep and kicking steps was very strenuous. Frustratingly, this slowed us down enough that by the time we reached the summit the clouds had lowered over most mountains in the area and bits of cloud were swirling around us. It wasn’t quite the spectacular panorama we’d hoped for when I planned this trip!

After a cold and short stay on the summit we started back down. I’d thought the snow would make the descent easy, but the crust snagged the toe of my boot with each step and I either had to pull it out through the crust or awkwardly lift it back out. This again slowed us down, but this time the effect was for the clouds to lift and the patch of blue sky to reappear! This was the exact opposite of last week where the only 2 hours it wasn’t raining was when we were on the summit, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. Reaching any summit is a great day!

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Banff National Park, Fossil Mountain, Lake Louise, Skoki, hiking, scrambling