Fairview Mountain

Elevation: 2744 m
Elevation Gain: 1000 m
First ascended by Samuel E. S. Allen and Walter D. Wilcox in 1893 the peak was officially named by the latter in 1894. The name is an obvious reference to the view from the top, however, the term “fair” sells it a little short in this instance. Although not a major undertaking, Mount Fairview is, nevertheless, a favorite of many prominent mountaineers including J. Monroe Thorington who wrote of it: “A small peak as a rule is the best view-point because there is still something left to look up to... And so it is with Fairview. Year after year we have come back to it; perhaps as a convenient training walk, but more likely on account of the sheer beauty with which it is surrounded."
My Ascents:
November 2 2014, July 17 2013, July 8 2012, September 10 2011, July 5 2011, September 26 2010, August 1 2010, September 20 2009, August 23 2008, September 9 2007, July 6 2007
GPS Track: Fairview Mountain

Several months after completing Yamnuska’s Snow and Ice training, I received an e-mail from some of the course’s other participants inquiring as to whether or not I’d be interested in an early November ascent. I enthusiastically answered in the affirmative and we set about planning an appropriate outing for the upcoming Sunday. As I sat outside at the Stampeders game on Saturday afternoon, freezing as heavy wet snow fell, I found my enthusiasm suddenly dampened (both literally and figuratively). An exchange of e-mails/texts on Saturday evening, however, revealed that this particularly motley crew would not be deprived of their Sunday in the mountains; rain or snow – this trip was a go!

After a foggy and snowy drive to the Petro-Canada west of the city, Crux and I met Chi, Colin and (the other) Matthew. Although conditions appeared bleak in our vicinity, the weather forecast had suggested that the thick cloud would begin to clear from the west. Gambling that the forecast would actually be correct for once, we set out towards Lake Louise and the more westerly main ranges of the Rockies. Our target for the day would be spectacular Fairview Mountain. Although we knew that there would be snow on Fairview, we hoped that the peak would have only a “dusting for cosmetic purposes;” any more than this and the ascent could become undesirably “roughty tufty.”

Arriving in Lake Louise, we were thrilled to leave the clouds which shrouded the front ranges behind and find clear blue skies overhead. Although there wasn’t much snow at the lake, some recent freezing rain made the first several hundred vertical meters of the approach hike to Saddle Pass treacherous; in hindsight, the icy hiking trail down low would prove to be the day’s crux. Fortunately, as we gained elevation, we entered a sort of winter wonderland where the snow offered much-improved footing over the ice lower down.

The hike to Saddle Pass crosses several avalanche slopes from which we were afforded views of our objective high above. While much of the route is exposed to avalanche risk in the winter, the early November snow pack was not yet significant enough for this to be an issue.

The more open avalanche slopes also provided a scenic respite from the dark forest, offering wonderful views of Protection Mountain (left) and the Castle Mountain massif (right) above the clouds across the Bow Valley.

Above the tree line, Mount Temple’s massive north face was beautifully revealed.

(The other) Matthew, Colin and Chi approach a snowy Saddle Pass where we paused for a snack in the shadow of Sheol Mountain (left) and Haddo Peak (right).

Once Crux had finished begging for everyone’s lunches at the pass, it was time to get back at it and tackle Fairview’s steep final 400 vertical meters. Fortunately for us, our decision to sleep in an extra hour meant that another group of earlier risers had already broken trail for us!

(The other) Matthew contemplates the latest obstacle blocking his path. “Mush! Mush!”

Crux pauses to enjoy an unusual sub-summit serenade while contemplating relativity.

Once Crux was satisfied with the ascent’s special musical guest, we continued upwards and reached the summit in about the same amount of time that it takes for the sun’s light to reach the Earth. Although this marked my 11th visit to the summit of Fairview Mountain, this peak’s spectacular summit panorama never fails to amaze me! In fact, with cerulean Lake Louise not yet frozen and the peaks above plastered in snow, this would prove to be my most scenic visit to Fairview’s summit! Click to see larger.

Crux and I pose for the obligatory summit shot on a breathtaking afternoon in the Canadian Rockies.

As always, glaciated giants Mounts Aberdeen, Lefroy and Victoria provide the scenic highlight of the day. As it happens, I unwittingly captured a rather large avalanche on Mount Lefroy (center) in this photo; I didn’t even notice the event at the time but spotted it well after the fact when sorting through the day’s photos! Mouse over for a closer look.

The beautiful color that’s earned Lake Louise the title: “Crown Jewel of the Canadian Rockies.”

(The other) Matthew, Colin and Chi enjoy Tea and biscuits on the summit – (the other) Matthew’s UK influence must be to blame.

A handsome mountain dog!

Great winter scenery on Collier Peak (left) and Pope’s Peak (right).

Mounts Whyte (left) and Niblock (right) above the much smaller Devil’s Thumb.

A glance beyond the summit of Mount St. Piran towards the Waputik/Wapta Icefields granted wonderful views of a myriad of distant peaks thanks to the clear skies! From left to right: Mount Des Poilus, Mount Niles, Mount Bosworth, Mount Collie, Mount Daly and Mount Olive.

Familiar Icefields Parkway peaks rise up above distant Hector Lake to the north. From left to right: Bow Crow Peak, Mount Weed, Observation Peak, Bow Peak, Cirque Peak and Dolomite Peak.

Little Hector (left) and massive Mount Hector.

A very color-coordinated group summit shot!

The panorama to the east stretches from one 11,000er (Mount Hector – left) to another (Mount Temple – right). Click to see larger.

The Pipestone Valley to the northeast is bracketed by Molar Mountain (left) and Cataract Peak (right).

Telephoto of rarely ascended Cataract Peak.

The world-famous Lake Louise ski resort and a plethora of Skoki peaks beyond; It certainly doesn’t look like ski season is upon us yet (despite the fact that the hill is supposed to open next week)!

Skoki giant: Mount Richardson.

Pika Peak (left), Ptarmigan Peak (center) and Fossil Mountain (right) beyond the rather dry-looking ski runs on Whitehorn Mountain.

Skoki landmarks Mount Douglas (left) and Mount St. Bride (right) beyond Redoubt Mountain.

Colin pauses to take in the view of Bulwark Peak, Pulsatilla Mountain and Armor Peak across the Bow Valley.

Pilot Mountain (left) and Copper Mountain (center) divide the cloudier skies to the east from the clear skies to the west.

Snowy Storm Mountain (center) rears up behind Panorama Ridge (left) and Mount Bell (right).

Mount Temple and Sheol Mountain present their perpetually (at this time of year anyways) shaded north faces.

Taking a timeout from photos to give Crux some well-deserved summit scratches.

With the sun growing lower in the sky above Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen, it was time to start our descent. Click to see larger.

Plunge-stepping down snowy slopes is a speedy way to descend unless…

…you face-plant like Crux!

Crux picks himself back up and dusts himself off while the rest of us try to contain our laughter.

Traversing steep snow slopes on our way back down to the pass as the shadow of Sheol Mountain encroaches.

The day’s final rays of light shine down on Château Lake Louise and Mount Hector as we make our way down through the dark forest in Fairview’s shadow. While the hike down from Saddle Pass is generally dull, on this day, we amused ourselves by watching each other attempt to avoid falling ass over tea kettle on the icy hike down!

After enjoying the slip and slide down, we arrived back at Lake Louise to find the sun absent, having set behind Mount Victoria and the continental divide some time ago. Since the sun set at this time of year coincides nicely with Happy Hour, we made our way to the pub where Chi, Colin and (the other) Matthew discovered that the bargain “beer” (if you can call it that) isn’t always a bargain! While they may not have enjoyed their Alberta Genuine Draft, there was no disputing that we’d all enjoyed a spectacular November day in the Rockies! Thank you gentlemen for the invite and for not taking the easy way out (staying warm at home) when it looked like the fresh snow might make things “roughty tufty!”