Mount Norquay
July 3, 2004 was a rather whacky day for me.  I had promised to drive my girlfriend to an early dental appointment at 9:00 AM, but she wanted to get there at 8:00 AM to have breakfast at a nearby Smitty's first.  That meant that we would have to leave the house by 7:45 AM, so she roused me out of bed at supposedly 7:15 AM.  It turned out that she had read her bedside clock wrong, and it was actually only 6:15 AM.  By the time she caught her mistake, I was already dressed and ready to go.  Foolishly, I decided to fall back in bed and nap for another hour.  When I got up again, I felt terrible, but I drove my girlfriend to Smitty's anyway and joined her for a hearty breakfast.  I felt a little better after having something to eat, but I couldn't decide what I wanted to do for the rest of the day.  I went home and ended up falling asleep again.  When I finally woke up for good at about 12:30 PM, I procrastinated for about an hour before deciding to head out to Banff National Park to do a scramble.  I considered doing Mount Norquay, but when I drove by the town of Banff, the weather didn't look very promising as a rain storm was coming in from the west.  I drove through the storm and was delighted to see that the Lake Louise area had sunny skies.  Perhaps I could do something quick like Tower of Babel or Panorama Ridge.  Unfortunately, a head-on vehicle collision just past Castle Junction had traffic backed up for several kilometers along the Trans Canada Highway.  I was running out of time and couldn't afford to wait for them to clear up the accident (a pretty serious one, judging by the two ambulances and a helicopter that whizzed by me).  I turned my car around with unrealistic ideas of salvaging a scramble somewhere in Kananaskis Country, but in truth, I was ready to pack it in and head home.  I even stopped on the side of the highway to take some photos of Castle Mountain; that's when I noticed that the good weather at Lake Louise was slowly making its way east to Banff.  I quickly drove to the Mount Norquay ski area--Mount Norquay was on again!

Leaving my car at 4:39 PM, I trudged up the Lone Pine ski run to the top of the North American chairlift.  Pesky mosquitoes provided ample motivation for me to keep moving up this grassy slope.  Once I got past the top of the chairlift, the mosquitoes thankfully disappeared.  I had some difficulty scrambling up the cliff band right behind the chairlift station, but once I got into the big gully above it, I made good progress and reached the ridge crest at 5:59 PM.  The two summits of Mount Norquay are separated by a significant col.  Seeing the elevation loss required to reach the higher west summit almost made me give up, but I continued north along the ridge toward the east summit anyway.  The crux (going up the bump just before the east summit) was dry, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to downclimb it if I returned that way.  I reached the east summit at 6:45 PM.

Despite the elevation loss, the remainder of my climb to the west summit was surprisingly easy.  I topped out at 7:37 PM.  After snapping some photos and signing the summit register, I began descending at 8:00 PM.  Back at the col, I decided to avoid the crux and traverse below the east summit to where I originally gained the ridge crest.  This turned out to be a reasonable route for me, and I even had a beaten path to follow most of the time.  I regained the ridge crest at 8:48 PM and quickly descended the big gully.  Downclimbing the cliff band behind the chairlift station was the most difficult part of the whole trip for me, but I managed to get down unscathed.  On my way up the ski run, I had found a quarter in the grass.  It turned out to be a lucky quarter because just as I passed the upper chairlift station on my descent, rain began pouring down on the area.  Although I was soaked, I was past all difficulties and easily hiked down the Lone Pine ski run.  As a bonus, the mosquitoes were neutralized.  I made it back to my car at 9:35 PM.
Banff and Mount Rundle This is a nice view of Mount Rundle and the town of Banff from the upper slopes of Mount Norquay.
This is where we separate the men from the boys... This is the crux of the scramble.  The east summit is visible in the distance at left.
Delightful scrambling ahead! Sonny approaches the east summit after surmounting the crux.
East Summit This is the east summit of Mount Norquay.
Hard to believe I was just up there less than 15 minutes ago! This is looking back at the east summit from the connecting ridge to the west summit.  The col is out of the picture at bottom left.
Another 15 minutes to the top from here! Sonny hikes up the easy ledges below the west summit.
Try and avoid the snow if possible. This is the final approach to the west summit.
Hard to believe it took less than 3 hours to get here from the car! Sonny sits on the 2514-metre west (true) summit of Mount Norquay.  Directly behind him is Mount Brewster.
Hmmm...those clouds don't look so good! Mount Assiniboine is barely visible at left in this view south from the summit.
Those plants almost look radioactive! Sonny regains the ridge crest after traversing from the col.  Click here to see Sonny's approximate traverse route.  The west summit is visible in the distance.
It might be a long wait before this chair gets moving! Sonny hopes in vain for a free ride down the mountain.