Yates Mountain (Barrier Lake Lookout)

Elevation: 1996 m
Elevation Gain: 625 m
Yates Mountain is the unofficial name of the high point of McConnell Ridge immediately north of Barrier Lake. The peak was named after Emily Yates who ran the Diamond Cross ranch which was located on the site presently occupied by nearby Camp Chief Hector. The peak has a long history of serving as a lookout, beginning with the Stoney Nakoda whose name for it, Tokyapebi Ipa, can be translated to: “Lookout Point for the Enemy.” Today, the peak is the site of the Barrier Lake fire lookout.
My Ascents:
September 9 2016, December 28 2014, January 1 2014
GPS Track: Yates Mountain (December 2014)

Many times this summer, I’ve watched enviously as Brianne, Mera and Crux set out for a weekday Rockies outing while Daddy was stuck going into the office. Indeed, Brianne and her friend Heather (another new mom) have become quite the maternity leave hiking tandem, toting little Mera and Max all about the Rockies. With a Friday off work, I was finally free to enjoy a rare good weather day in the mountains and was keen to join the girls (who were gracious enough to invite me along) on their planned baby trip to the Barrier Lake lookout atop Yates Mountain.

Golden fall colors and a brilliant blue sky highlight the view as Brianne, Crux, Moose, Heather and Max set off along the Barrier Lake dam towards Yates Mountain.

Mount Baldy (left) presides over the panorama of Barrier Lake on a gorgeous fall morning. Click to see larger.

Fast forward a couple hours…there’s not much to see for the first 5 km of the hike up Yates Mountain. Fortunately, the time in the forest passed quickly as the girls chatted away about all things baby (while Dad and Mera had a conversation of their own). By the time that we reached the first clearing overlooking the lake, we were all keen for a break and stopped to enjoy the view and some lunch.

Free range babies! Max and Mera enjoy a respite from their respective hiking carriers during our lunch stop.

Taking in the Kananaskis Valley panorama which features Mount Baldy on the center left and McConnell Ridge on the far right. Click to see larger.

After a pleasant lunch break, we heard the summit calling and continued up over a couple challenging steps (just below the cliffs ahead).

Nearing the top, Heather and Max stop for a photo op. From the background, it’s easy to see why the first high point (a couple hundred meters below the summit) is called “Prairie View”!

Moose, Max and Heather enjoy their first summit together with summit veterans Brianne and Mera. In the distance, the Calgary skyline can just be discerned along the horizon on the center right.

A closer look at Calgary.

To the north, the TransCanada Highway winds along the base of Yates Mountain as the Front Ranges give way to beautiful prairie views. Click to see larger.

Mera and Max enjoy some mountain-top playtime. The helicopter pads that accompany summit fire lookouts make for great spots to let the little ones explore!

A beautiful Bow Valley panorama towards Exshaw and Canmore. Click to see larger.

Looking south into K-Country: Mount Kidd (center) sports a fresh dusting of snow as it peers out from between Mary Barclay’s Mountain (left) and Mount Lorette (right).

Mount Lougheed (center right) can also be seen between Skogan Peak (left) and Mount McGillivray.

Canmore landmarks the Three Sisters (center left) appear beyond Pigeon Mountain (left).

The Lawrence Grassi massif and its plethora of peaks (including Ship’s Prow, Mount Lawrence Grassi, Miner’s Peak and Ha Ling Peak) preside over Canmore to the west.

EEOR, Grotto Mountain and Gap Peak highlight the view beyond the Exshaw cement plant.

Mount Fable is one of the more impressive-looking peaks visible to the northwest.

My 2 lovely ladies!

Peaks on the eastern edge of the Rockies – from left to right: Exshaw Mountain (in front of Mount Fable), Doorjamb Mountain, Mount Townsend (distant), Loder Peak and Goat Mountain.

Yamnuska directly across the highway to the north.

Moose, Max and Heather enjoy the summit views.

Moose and Crux make friends with the fire lookout’s resident puppy.

Another On-Top family summit photo. The only thing better than a summit is a summit with my girls!

Looking south towards the Fisher Range’s “Big Traverse.” From left to right: Mount McDougall, Old Baldy Mountain, Kananaskis Peak and Wasootch Peak.

After taking in the summit views and letting the little ones play on the heli-pad, it was time to load the babes back up and start the hike down.

Heather and Brianne tackle the most challenging step of the descent (while wearing babies!) as Crux and Moose watch on from above.

A WINDY finish to a beautiful day back down at Barrier Lake! Once again, the large gap between photos is the result of the hike through the forest being fairly dull! Fortunately, the company was good even if the views on the hike down weren’t! Thanks again to Heather, Max, Brianne and Mera for letting me tag along on one of their maternity leave adventures!