Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 680 m Route map
With sunny skies and high winds in the forecast we decided to head to Rummel Ridge today, a smaller peak that we first ascended
nearly three years ago. This peak is described in Andrew Nugara's Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies
book, but his route up the steep west slope comes with some degree of avalanche risk. The route we use ascends the ridge via its northwest arm, essentially avoiding all avalanche risk. Today I wanted to investigate two things: A slight variation in our route had been reported
that sounded a bit easier than what we did, and a possible ascent of the western arm of The Tower via Rummel Ridge.
The first time we ascended Rummel Ridge we followed an old snowshoe track that went about 750 m along the northern bank of the creek flowing down from between Mount Engadine and The Tower before crossing to the south bank (the south side of the creek is the beginnings of Rummel Ridge). Crossing here or earlier appeared necessary as the creek bank became extremely steep beyond this point. If a trail hadn’t been broken along the south bank this would have been extremely annoying as the northern bank was (and typically is) well packed by skiers. As reported
more recently, however, by continuing up the packed ski tracks for a total of about 2 km, gaining 300 m of elevation in the process, the steep banks of the creek flatten out and the crossing to the south bank is easy. If a trail along the south bank is not broken this route is an excellent option to save a lot of strenuous trailbreaking.
In my pre-trip research I realized that Rummel Ridge and the western arm of The Tower were extremely similar in profile and slope to the northern end of Kent Ridge
and its outlier
and started to wonder if one could ascend at least a portion of The Tower via Rummel Ridge. In the few photos I had of this area from our previous trip the ridge looked wind blown and hence I figured it should be no more than a straightforward slog up. The views would be spectacular too, allowing us to look east over Rummel Pass and down to Highway 40.
Unfortunately, the view of the ascent route up The Tower from Rummel Ridge suggested there might be some avalanche concern on the lower slopes. While I have AST-1 I don't have any field experience or confidence in evaluating the risk and it has never seemed like a good idea to test these things while fairly clueless. The route might be perfectly safe, but I just wasn't sure. [UPDATE: I've since learned that a fatal avalanche occurred on this slope a few years ago. It is described in Backcountry Avalanche Safety
by Tony Daffern. Don't proceed beyond Rummel Ridge unless you know exactly what you are doing!]. Nevertheless, the views from Rummel Ridge were spectacular and made the trip well worthwhile. Coupled with the ease at which this ridge can be gained when the trail is broken and the absence of any avalanche risk this ridge should be much more popular than it appears to be.