Zenfolio | Matthew Clay | Gap Peak, April 16, 2016
Visitors 94
40 photos

Distance: 8.2 km
Elevation gain: 1200 m
View map
Download GPS track

Good weather with light winds? Check. Directions? Check. Lunch and water? Check. Hiking poles, boots, camera? Check, check, check. Before each hike I have a fairly long list of things I check through to make sure I know what I'm walking into and am sufficiently prepared. Today I forgot just one thing and it nearly ruined the entire day.

Gap Peak has been on my radar since Matt Hobbs proposed it as a hike last spring, but a dump of snow the night before had us change our plans to Morrowmount. Today I decided to give it a go with Sandra, and while we knew the final ridgewalk to the summit might be a bit too narrow for her we figured it was worth a try.

We parked in a small parking lot by the Bay Mag Cement Plant and roughly followed the directions in Bob Spriko's report up the ridge and around the cliff bands higher up. A good trail took shape a short distance up the ridge and was absurdly flagged with 3 colors of flagging; once we were on it it was impossible to lose. We found three areas along the trail a bit difficult: A steep and loose ascent about 600 m from the truck, a steeper ascent between the two cliff bands, and an ascent up chunky and loose scree above the second cliff band. The first two couldn’t be avoided, but in re-reading a few reports upon returning home it appears that heading much further to the right above the second cliff band might have avoided the worst of the scree on that section.

The final 500 m to the summit was along a narrow ridge. While the footing was excellent on solid rock, many long sections were just a few feet wide with a good drop on either side. I have little experience on such terrain and found it very unnerving and exhilarating, but a couple guys who passed me were having no trouble at all with it. With a lot of care I made it to the summit, and after a short chat with the two who had passed me earlier I headed back to Sandra, who had decided to hang back when the ridge narrowed.

So just what did I forget this morning? I forgot to check to see if any hiking clubs were doing the peak today. We've had these groups piss right next to our tent, block and monopolize trails (sometimes with fire), and send showers of rocks down on us many times before (well, the tent peeing was just once, to be honest). I track over 20 of those groups now and religiously check their itineraries before every outing to be sure we avoid them, but didn't this morning and we ended up encountering a group of nine on the descent. Scattered like ants across a steep slope there was no avoiding them, and true to what I've come to expect one of them incompetently sent a boulder crashing down towards Sandra. She barely dodged it and I had no idea what was going on until she screamed and I turned around to see more than a dozen rocks bouncing and careening towards me and my valuable brain. Miraculously many of them stopped before me and the remaining ones bounced away from me, but even without injury it was still quite terrifying. That's the last time I forget to check the hiking schedules of hiking clubs!

Hiking clubs aside, this was a very nice scramble and allowed me to go a bit beyond a scree slog in difficulty. The one downside was the constant cement plant and highway noise; low down this was terrible, but an hour or so up the slope it was dulled enough that it was tolerable.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Exshaw, Gap Peak, Kananaskis, hiking, scrambling