Distance: 6.5 km
Elevation gain: 410 m View map Download GPS track
After I spent a beautifully warm and sunny Saturday at work yesterday, Sandra and I headed out for a cold hike under cloudy and snowy skies with temperatures ranging from -20 C to -24 C. Our destination was Vents Ridge, a popular rock climb named White Buddha immediately south of Prairie Mountain.
Fresh snow and roads that were unplowed past Bragg Creek made the drive to the winter gate on Highway 66 much slower than usual, but with no other vehicles on the road it wasn’t as dangerous as I’d feared. We geared up and started hiking along the closed road to the Powderface Creek trailhead, then turned onto the very well-packed trail. A little over a kilometer later we reached the steep trail heading up Vents Ridge and were happy to see that a well-beaten track existed in the shallow snow.
The ascent was steep, but otherwise no more than a hike, and it didn’t take us long to reach the cliffs below the summit popular with rock climbers. We ascended along the base of the cliff band until it disappeared, then easily made our way to the summit.
The view from the top would be limited on a good day, and in the cloud and flurries today there wasn’t much to see other than Prairie Mountain directly to the north and Iyarhe Ipan to the south. I’d hoped to see the thermal vents from which the ridge gets its name, and while there were a few spots of steaming rock from which the snow had melted, it wasn’t nearly as interesting as I’d imagined it would be.
Instead of retracing our route back down to Powderface Creek we chose to descend to Prairie Creek via the Corri Rob Trail. While this made a nice loop, the trail from the ridge to the creek was extremely slippery and badly angled. It was a slow and frustrating descent and the walk out along Prairie Creek was longer and no more scenic than the walk along Powderface Creek. Unless you’re looking to spend more time outside (as we were today), it probably makes more sense to just descend back to Powderface Creek.
While Vents Ridge wasn’t the most exciting ascent, after two weeks of sitting indoors it was definitely needed!