Mist Mountain

Elevation: 3140 m
Elevation Gain: 1300 m
Named in 1884 by George Dawson, who experienced an extended period of of poor weather while visiting this range. Adjacent Storm Mountain was also named by Dawson, presumably under similar circumstances. Mist Mountain was not ascended until much later, in 1946 by Donald King, Alan Blayney, Len Blayney and York Blaney. Their first ascent involved an overnight bivy on the summit during which they dazzled those assembled in the valleys below with an impressive pyrotechnic display at 11:00pm sharp.
My Ascents:
September 8 2012
Trailhead: Mist Mountain Parking (Roadside)

When Mike first suggested Mist Mountain as a “puppy-friendly” scramble for the upcoming weekend, I balked. I had read the description in Kane’s guide recently enough to recall that this “moderate” scramble involves exposure. Having also scrambled nearby “moderates” Mount Rae and Storm Mountain, I was acutely aware that the “moderates” in this range composed of vertically up-turned rock strata tend to lean more towards the “difficult” side of the ledger. Nevertheless, after a little research and stumbling upon a “hiking route” in Craig and Kathy Copeland’s guide, I began to share Mike’s enthusiasm for this objective! Saturday morning dawned clear and bright and with no risk of thunderstorms forecast, Mike and I (and Crux and Jemma) allowed ourselves the luxury of sleeping in until 6:00am. The approach is described well in the Copeland’s hiking guide, although I was surprised that they do not mention crossing a stream about 5 minutes from the parking area. Nevertheless, after crossing the stream, we hiked on a severely overgrown logging road for another 10 minutes or so before promptly turning left (uphill) on an obvious cairned path.

Once we broke through the trees, we were treated to the beautiful alpine valley pictured above. We hiked loudly up the valley to the pass ahead, noting bear scat (no surprise here) en route.

The view of Mist Mountain from the alpine pass was spectacular although the prevalence of fall colors is somewhat disconcerting. From here, the route circles left around the small grassy hill and gains an obvious path that aims for the cirque on the climber’s left of the peak. Click for full size.

Bear food.

The moon, still visible, above the cirque on the southwest side of Mist Mountain.

The hiking route description in “Where the Locals Hike” involves hiking all the way to the back of the cirque (left in this photo), however, Mike and I reasoned that we might do better to ascend near the rock rib on the right in order to minimize the tedium of the scree between us and the summit. As it turned out, both routes are equally simple.

Looking back down to the alpine pass from the cirque. The path connecting the two is obvious lower down, however, it peters out higher up.

Mike and Jemma trying to find solid footing.

How an animal evolved to have black fur and no sweat glands is beyond me...

Jemma took pity on Mike and let him have a break eventually.

Our choice of ascent near the front of the cirque rather than the rear brought us to a high plateau just short of the summit ridge. The actual summit is the dark brown bit on the center left which appears (from here anyway) to be lower than the prominent point in the center. While the ridge to overcome the point in the center looked somewhat daunting (with dogs pulling anyways) from here, it started to look much easier the closer we got.

Panorama from the ridgeline looking northeast to the prairies. Click for full size.

Just shy of the summit ridge, we noticed Jemma favoring her back paws. Although Mike had checked them a few minutes earlier, when he looked now, she had cuts on her pads. Unfortunately, this would put an end to Jemma’s summit bid. Here, Mike stops to perform puppy first aid.

After patching Jemma up, I watched both dogs while Mike ran to the summit and back quickly. When he returned, he carried Jemma down the steep scree into the cirque below while Crux and I bagged the summit. As you can see, the view, highlighted by many large peaks to the west, was stunning!

The highest peak in Kananaskis Country, Mount Joffre.

The royal group in the distance.

Mounts Tyrwhitt and Pocaterra are the large grey peaks in the middle-ground.

Mounts Sir Douglas and Assiniboine loom large on the horizon.

Looking north, the vertical strata of the Mist range are apparent. It's these vertical layers of rock that tend to make the scrambles in this range exposed!

Misty panorama. Click for full size.

Lunch time!

Looking way down to grassy Mount Lipsett. The snowy ridge on the lower left is one of the scramble routes that Kane recommends. Thanks but no thanks!

A beautiful day to be on top!

Calgary faintly visible in the distance beyond the front ranges.

Looking north. Mist range on the left and front ranges on the right.

The famous Cornwall, Outlaw, Glasgow, Banded (from left to right) quartet near Bragg Creek.

A nice shot showing the exposed scramble routes up Storm Mountain (center) and Mount Rae (top center). Both scrambles follow exposed ridges visible here and both had me shaking my head at their “moderate” ratings.

Eastern panorama. Click for full size.

The Highwood Range to the east.

A group of scramblers gaining the summit ridge behind. The exposure of Mist's northeast face is apparent here.

Crux checking out the action below as the other scramblers approach.

Not a great place to be in a thunderstorm.

Mike and Jemma waiting for Crux and I in the cirque way down below (center where the scree changes from light to dark grey).

Zoom shot of Mike and Jemma waiting in the boulderfield below.

When I arrived back at the bottom of the cirque, I found that Mike had put his MacGyver skills to work and constructed booties to protect Jemma’s paws from his own socks, a toque and a healthy supply of duct tape.

He had also kept himself occupied by drinking apparently.

On our way out of the cirque, we spotted the natural hot springs on the east face of Mist Mountain from near the alpine valley. Unfortunately, they were already occupied…

Back down at the alpine pass and dog-tired.

Looking back at Mist Mountain from the pass before heading down to the car and the cold beer below!