Fossil Mountain
Anticipating clear weather on 29 December 2005, I headed out early to Banff National Park in hopes of bagging Fossil Mountain in the Skoki region.  My plan was to ski up to Deception Pass before scrambling up the final 450 metres to the top.

It was still dark when I reached the Fish Creek parking lot near Ski Louise resort, but I noticed that the gate for the restricted access road to Temple Lodge was open.  As tempting as it was to drive up that road and save myself an extra four kilometres of skiing (plus 300 metres of height gain), I didn't think it was worth a ticket or even possibly getting my car towed.  I dutifully strapped on my skis and began grinding up the road at 7:47 AM.  About five minutes later, a Ski Louise employee on a snowmobile pulled up alongside of me and asked if I wanted a lift up to Temple Lodge.  How could I refuse?  He handed me a spare helmet as I clumsily gathered my skis and poles and straddled the back seat of the snowmobile.  Having never been on a snowmobile before, I was a little shocked at how quickly it shot up the road.  With my hands full clutching my skis and poles, I clamped my legs around the snowmobile and hung on for dear life knowing that any sharp turn would likely send me flying into a tree or snow bank.  To his credit, the Ski Louise employee expertly handled the snowmobile and delivered me quickly and safely to the trail head above Temple Lodge.  After thanking my Good Samaritan for saving me at least 1.5 hours of mundane climbing up the road, I resumed my skiing up the trail to Skoki.  It was quiet, and snow was falling.

I reached Boulder Pass at 9:18 AM.  The weather was still socked in, and I was beginning to doubt that it would clear up at all that day.  Still, the ski conditions were excellent, and I continued across Ptarmigan Lake and up toward Deception Pass.  Just short of the pass, I ditched my skis beside an obvious Larch tree and began climbing on foot.  I ploughed through some sections of deep powder before reaching the base of Fossil Mountain's windblown west slope.  Although I made steady progress up the slope, I began to feel uneasy about my ski boots' traction on the mix of snow and rubble.  I sat down on a rock outcrop and dug out my newly purchased crampons from my pack.  A frigid wind buffeted me while I used my bare hands to attach the crampons to my boots.  By the time I was done, my fingers were frozen numb, and I spent several minutes trying to re-warm them.  When I finally started moving again, I marvelled at how well the crampons worked.  I had no further difficulties and reached the summit at 12:22 PM.  Unfortunately, the views were disappointing because of the crummy weather.

After snapping some photographs at the summit, I had to re-warm my frozen fingers again before starting my descent at 12:39 PM.  The southwest gully looked tempting to glissade, but heeding Alan Kane's advice, I stuck to the west slope and made it back to my Larch tree and skis without much trouble.  The ski back to the parking lot was uneventful except for having to dodge all the downhill ski/snowboard traffic near Temple Lodge.  I was back at my car by 2:58 PM.
So much for the nice weather. After reaching Boulder Pass, Sonny proceeds to ski across Ptarmigan Lake.  Fossil Mountain is barely visible in the hazy distance.
The wands really help with navigating across Ptarmigan Lake. Sonny's skis are pointed in the right direction as Fossil Mountain becomes more distinct.
Hmmm...maybe I should have kept my skis on a bit longer... Sonny struggles through deep powder to reach the base of Fossil Mountain.
Definitely not skiable on this day! Scramblers have this to look forward to on Fossil Mountain's west slope.
This winter scrambling isn't so bad after all... Sonny approaches the summit of Fossil Mountain.
I wonder who had to drag this heavy thing up here. The memorial plaque at the summit is plastered with snow.  A more legible photo of this same plaque can be found here or here.
My 25th Kane Summit this year--a personal best. Sonny stands atop Fossil Mountain's 2946-metre summit.
Still looks feasible to scramble up despite the snow. This is Oyster Peak as seen from Fossil Mountain's summit.
Sigh.  Despite four trips into this area, I have yet to see a clear, sunny day here. The sun makes a rare appearance on this day just above Redoubt Mountain.  Note the skiers (little black dots) coming across Ptarmigan Lake at lower right.