Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mt. Yamnuska - June 3rd 2012

Conor and I hiked around Mt. Yamnuska on Sunday.

We'd left the house around 10:00am but had to stop for gas and picked up some snacks and bottled water from CO-OP and a bit of an early lunch from Wendy's, then I stopped in Cochrane to get a coffee, by the time we got to the trailhead it was noon.

Our goal was to hike to the summit of Mt. Yamnuska then circle around and come down the scree slopes. Last year when we hiked here we had gone the wrong way around and I say this because it meant we had to climb UP the scree slopes on the front of the mountain. The rocks are very loose and for every step you take, you lose about 4/5ths your elevation gain when the rocks slide and settle around your foot. When we were climbing up the slopes we observed other hikers (little kids even!) were coming down using a method of running/jumping that looked like a lot less effort and a lot more fun. They all had huge smiles plastered across their faces as they floated down the mountain. We wanted to float down the mountain too! We were both excited to go the right way around this time and were really looking forward to coming down the slopes.

Mt. Yamnuska

I'd packed my camera with a few lenses for the trip the weather was cool with heavy clouds and looking towards the west it looked like it was snowing or raining a fair bit and I was worried we'd get caught in inclement weather. I was also concerned that the light wouldn't be great. I really love the location in the photo above I think it's a real unique scene with lots of good photographic opportunities and I want to try going back with different lighting conditions. I'm thinking early evening with some real nice light to highlight the rocks. It took us about two and a half hours to get to this location. In my head I'm trying to figure out the logistics so that when the weather looks like it's going to co-operate I can dash out there and be on the mountain again.

Here is another view. When I first stepped near the edge I got a bit of vertigo at seeing all the open air below.

Mt. Yamnuska

However, this isn't quite the summit yet. We still had a fair ways to go to get there and some interesting terrain to cross. Here is a shot of Conor (they'll all have Conor in them ;-) with a view of the backside of the mountain. To the left of his head in the background is the formation from the two pictures above.  You can also see some of the different paths that have been worn into the mountain.  One thing I enjoyed was the small amount of way finding that was needed. From above looking backwards the path`s are really quite visible, but looking from below the trail can be difficult to pick out.


A short time later we came to the chains. These have been placed in the mountain side to assist in getting across a pretty narrow/steep section of the trail. I went across first and made sure that Conor was comfortable crossing before taking a few photos. I think the key is being methodical about three points connected at all times, and only moving a foot or hand when the other three are stable.


The view below is looking back towards the chains they traverse the darker triangle of rock on the peak in the center. It's often not apparent how steep or intimidating the mountain can be when your on it but looking back it's clear that the path we took was quite precarious. Looking at the photos that I took on my computer and zooming in I'm even more impressed with the accomplishment we made and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to see these sights.


We finally made the summit. Conor is making an entry in the summit log. We stopped and had a few snacks before starting down. I took a few pics of the different views. We were three and a half hours into the hike at this point.


This view from the summit is over the front face, pointing down at the scree slope. If you look closely, you can see some little black dots which are hikers who are descending the slope below.


The photo below is of Conor approaching the scree slope from the west side of the mountain. We had descended from the peak towards the west and circled around to the front of the mountain. The sun had just started to break through some of the clouds and the light was helping to show definition on the cliff faces.

Scree Slopes

Below are two videos that I shot with my iPhone.. the first shows the scree slopes as we approached them. The second shows me descending the scree slope - which I'm hoping will give you a view into what it was like to walk down the mountain.

After descending the scree slopes, and picking rocks out of our shoes, we ended up on a path that we thought would take us back across the front face through the trees but we must have missed a fork somewhere because we ended up at a rock quarry where it seemed like the only path out was to follow the road. I checked with google maps on my iPhone and saw that if we followed the road out that we'd end up back at the parking lot. This was ok, but walking through the trees would have been better. According to the iTracks app on my iphone, we traveled 13kms in 5h 50min.

Thanks for looking

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