Mount St. Piran

Elevation: 2649 m
Elevation Gain: 900 m
Willoughby John Astley hailed from Cornwall in Ireland and was the first manager of the chalet at Lake Louise. Samuel E. S. Allen named Mount St. Piran in 1894 for St. Piran, the patron saint of Astley’s home. St. Piran became the patron saint of tin-miners in the Cornwall area after rediscovering the lost art of tin-smelting in the sixth century when his hearthstone smelted itself and the tin rose to the top of the stone forming a white cross. Although Mount St. Piran is a trivial climb, many of history’s finest mountaineers, including Edward Whymper and Georgia Engelhard, have marveled at the fine view offered from its summit.
My Ascents:
September 22 2013, July 1 2013, July 15 2012, August 1 2011, July 4 2010, September 25 2008

Thanks to a recent wedding, the size of our family effectively doubled in September. As everyone knows, the family that summits together stays together so we decided to organize a family bonding trip involving elevation gain and golden larches (2 of my favorite things). As we drove west into foreboding weather in separate vehicles, we had to pull off at the Castle Mountain rest area to regroup and confirm that we were indeed crazy enough to proceed up a mountain despite the rain. Of course, we were and a short time later we found ourselves at a less-crowded-than-usual Lake Louise parking lot. Along for the ride on this adventure were my new wife, my mom, Gord, Aunty Di, Crux and my new mother-in-law Karen who was attempting her first summit in the Canadian Rockies!

Neither rain nor cloud could dim the beautiful golden larches in the alpine…nor Karen and Brianne’s smiles.

Larch season in full swing above the Little Beehive.

Back and forth, back and forth: the girls grind their way up the switchback-laden steep grass slopes of our objective, Mount St. Piran.

Ethereal mists rise from the valley below Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen.

Karen contemplating the final rockier slopes. Brianne had allowed her the option of quitting until the final 150 vertical meters, however, once she was that close to her first summit it was decided that she no longer had that option (not that she ever would have considered taking it)! ;)

Conquering the final steep rocky steps to the summit.

Mount Niblock emerges from the clouds above the summit of Mount St. Piran.

What was the first emotion that you felt when you summitted a peak for the first time? For Karen, it was apparently relief!

Followed shortly thereafter by joy! Congrats on your first summit Karen!

Congratulatory hug from Brianne while Crux and I examine the sturdiness of the summit cairn (it wobbled a little).

Playing with a wide angle lens up top.

Golden larches dot the slopes of the Big Beehive and Fairview Mountain above the beautiful blue waters of Lake Agnes and Lake Louise, respectively.

I can’t decide which is more beautiful: the deep blue of Lake Agnes or the pristine glacial blue of Lake Louise.

Brianne and her mom enjoy the view of the lakes far below.

A rainy day summit panorama (not too shabby). From left to right: the Castle Mountain massif (across the valley), Fairview Mountain, the Big Beehive (foreground), Mount Temple (background in the clouds), Haddo Peak, Mount Aberdeen, the Devil’s Thumb (foreground), the Mitre, Mount Lefroy (also in the clouds), Mount Whyte and Mount Niblock. Click to see larger.

Aunty Di explores the broad summit plateau towards Goat Pass and Mount Whyte.

Mounts Whyte (left) and Niblock (right).

A good day for black and Whyte photography!

The clouds stayed just high enough not to obscure the gorgeous glacier between Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen.

Temple, on the other hand, stayed firmly ensconced in the cloud all day.

Group summit shot.

Thanks to the girls at the Lake Agnes tea house for finally placing a register atop Mount St. Piran. In 5 previous ascents, there’s never been one so it was perfect to have one to commemorate Karen’s first summit.

Family summit register entry (Aunty Di signed on a different page so that she wouldn’t be associated with the likes of us). :P

With in-laws that hike, I can’t complain!

Whitehorn and the Lake Louise ski hill: a great location for a mountain wedding.

Tiny Minewakun Lake in a larch-filled valley to the north.

A train rumbles through the Bow Valley.

Our first summit as Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs.

One last smile before she realized that she still had to go all the way down!

What goes up…