Nihahi Ridge/Compression Ridge
Because some people from the Rocky Mountain Books WebForum were unable to come on a recent trip up Mount Niles, a second group scramble trip was organized.  This time, the objective was a little more ambitious--the complete traverse of both Nihahi Ridge and Compression Ridge in Kananaskis Country.

In the wee hours of the morning of 28 August 2004, Frank Nelson, Peter Nelson, Andrew Nugara, Dave Stephens and I drove out in two vehicles to the Little Elbow Campground.  After leaving the Nelson brothers at the trailhead parking lot (in the chilly darkness no less!), I followed Dave and Andrew in Dave's truck for about 14 kilometres on the Powderface Trail to the Canyon Creek trailhead.  After leaving Dave's truck there, I drove the three of us back to rejoin the Nelson brothers.  The entire car shuttle took only about half an hour, but knowing how far away Dave's truck was, I already had some apprehension about the long trek ahead of us.

Although the sun had not yet risen, the sky was beginning to lighten by the time we set off.  The pace was brisk, and in less than two hours, we were already past the south summit of Nihahi Ridge.  For the next couple of hours, we headed north along the undulating ridge.  Although most of Nihahi Ridge is not technically difficult, the constant losing and regaining of elevation is wearisome, and by the time we reached the 2530-metre north (highest) summit, I was pretty tired (it didn't help that I had played about two hours of volleyball the night before and had gotten only about three hours of sleep).  Our snack break on the north summit was cut short by a rain squall which forced us to get moving to stay warm and caused me to reconsider the merits of continuing on to Compression Ridge.  Fortunately, the skies cleared by the time we bottomed out at the col separating the two ridges, and I was again keen on completing the traverse.
Red sky in the morning--a sailor's warning? From the Little Elbow Campground, the pre-dawn sky looks remarkable.
Another 9.5 hours to go from here... The group continues north beyond the south summit of Nihahi Ridge.  On the horizon just left of centre is Mount Howard.
Relieving the monotony of Nihahi Ridge. Pete and Dave watch Frank scrambling up a rock step somewhere along Nihahi Ridge.
Fisher Peak This is Fisher Peak as seen from Nihahi Ridge.
Are we there yet?! Nihahi Ridge is essentially a long series of bumps just like this one.
Now this is more like it! Frank climbs up a steep wall just before reaching the north summit of Nihahi Ridge.
Somewhere over the rainbow... Compression Ridge is visible behind the rainbow in this view from just below the north summit of Nihahi Ridge.
Even before we reached the north summit of Nihahi Ridge, I began to lag far behind the rest of the group.  I was obviously running out of gas, but everyone was kind enough to wait for me every so often to let me catch up.  This was the general pattern for the remainder of the trip.  Interestingly enough, when we reached the more difficult sections of Compression Ridge, my adrenaline kicked in and perked me up.   There's nothing like some heady exposure to make me forget about my pain and fatigue.  The difficult sections also happened to be the highlight of the whole traverse.  Everyone agreed afterwards that the challenging middle section of Compression Ridge was the most enjoyable part of the trip (apart from taking their boots off at the end!).  Beyond the last of the difficult sections, we resumed the now-familiar up and down plod toward the northernmost high point.  From there, we descended a rubble slope on the west side to a tributary of Canyon Creek where we were able to refill our water bottles for the first time that day.  The ensuing hike out was easy, and Dave's truck was certainly a sight for sore eyes as we completed the traverse in under 11.5 hours (estimated total walking distance of 22 kilometres with cumulative height gain of 1860 metres).

While Frank rode shotgun, Pete, Andrew and I piled into the back of Dave's truck, and Dave drove us all back to Little Elbow Campground to pick up my car.   A subsequent stop at the Subway in Bragg Creek capped off another fabulous group scramble trip.
Must...keep...on...scrambling... The group trudges up a rubble slope (visible at far left in the previous photo).  The initial sections of Compression Ridge are similar in nature to Nihahi Ridge.
What's everyone smiling about? Despite over six hours of up and down scrambling, the group is still in good spirits.  From L to R are Andrew, Frank, Pete and Dave.
Okay, now things are getting interesting! Andrew scrambles up a slabby section.
Ugh.  Another big dip. The group approaches the first serious obstacle of the day--a narrow rock fin blocking the ridge.  The high point of Compression Ridge is visible straight ahead.
The crux...probably. Andrew, Pete and Frank carefully work their way down past the rock fin.
Watch your step here! This steep wall looks intimidating but is actually fairly easy to surmount.
Everyone having a good time still?  Sonny? About 7.5 hours after leaving the Little Elbow Campground, Sonny, Andrew, Frank, Pete and Dave reach the 2530-metre high point of Compression Ridge.
Window #1 Pete stands above the first of two windows the group would encounter on Compression Ridge.
Window #2 Frank is perched inside the second window.
Hard to believe that 4 hours ago we were way over there! This is looking back at the north summit of Nihahi Ridge from across upper Prairie Creek basin.
Finally, the last uphill for the day! This is the final bump at the north end of Compression Ridge.
Finally, the last downhill for the day! The group descends a rubble-filled drainage which leads to a tributary of Canyon Creek.
What happened to the smiles? Andrew, Pete, Frank and Dave wait patiently at the valley bottom of Canyon Creek for the slowpoke of the group (Sonny).
Check out Frank's and Andrew's photos of this trip.