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Mount Rae (3218 m)

I did Mount Rae with my dad and my friend Daniel on July 7, 2002. The book says to wait until July, but this was a very late year. We were quite sceptical on whether or not it would be feasible. It was once again perfect weather in the morning. The awesome thing about doing this mountain is that you start from the Highwood Pass. I read somewhere that this is the highest paved road in Canada. It is almost as high as Yamnuska! Therefore, the elevation gain is only about 1 km. Dad and I summited, through lots of snow. It was probably the 2nd ascent of the year. This is the view from the Ptarmigan Cirque, but it is approximately the same view from the road. The summit in view is actually the secondary summit. The true summit lies beyond. We were about 5 hours round, but the snow hindered our efforts. The route goes up the basin then around the shoulder and up a gully to the col, then up the ridge detouring around the secondary summit. Click on a picture to enlarge it.

Starting from Highwood Meadows, we were already almost at treeline, and we had already encountered snow. The trail to Ptarmigan Cirque was all snow, but luckily it was solid and packed down from previous hikers. After about 30 minutes we emerged into the Ptarmigan Cirque which was truly beautiful considered the effort involved. Great views were unfolding as we rounded the shoulder and saw the gully/basin to the col, which was snow-filled. Here are Dan and I coming up the basin. It was early, so the snow was hard and much tedious step-kicking ensued.

The gully became increasingly steep near the top, and the snow was quite hard. Luckily I had the ski poles for self-arrest, but we didn't want to chance a fall, so we headed up a rock rib. It proved some enjoyable scrambling with an interesting drop onto steep snow on the side, so we pushed on up this rib. Daniel was fatigued so he decided to stop here and wait for us to make the summit. At the col the views were awesome. Soon after we made our way to the secondary summit and found some more interesting scrambling while trying to gain the ridge crest.

After a lot of arduous scrambling we reached the summit with stupendous views. You can see the summit stake. We were the first ones of the year to enter into the log book, but we saw one set of footprints on the ascent. We spent about 30 minutes up here because we knew Dan would be getting anxious down below the col.

So we headed down. On the way down we made the smart choice of staying on the ridge until the secondary summit. This proved exhilarating with a spectacular drop on one side and an intimidating one on the other. We detoured around the secondary summit and had to traverse this part of the snow ridge to the col. Cautious footing was needed as steep snow on each side would mean a long slide. At the far left of the picture is the summit with the secondary summit behind me. The way down the basin was difficult because the snow didn't permit us to glissade until the grade lessened near the bottom, and then we hiked out to the car. This mountain has probably been my favorite so far because of all the snow combined with the ascent.

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