Taking a cue from Dave Birrell via Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis
Country Trail Guide (Third Edition, Volume 2), I made a second
attempt at scrambling up Mount Head on 21 May 2005. Starting from
Highway 541, I hiked north over Grass Pass and continued along the old
road before turning up the tributary branching west from Wileman Creek at
GR706899. On my previous attempt about a month earlier, there was
still a lot of snow in this valley which made travel quite slow and
difficult (running short on time, I eventually turned around at about the
2000-metre level). With most of the snow gone this time, route-finding was a lot easier,
and I progressed up the valley much more quickly. After passing the first
obvious drainage coming down from the northeast outlier of Mount Head, I
began climbing steeply up through the trees. Above tree line, I
contoured around the upper bowl aiming to reach the crest of the
northeast ridge just west of the middle bump (see route photo below) between
the summit and the northeast outlier.
Although I saved myself some needless elevation gain and loss by not going all the
way to the top of the northeast outlier, the route I chose is basically a
big sidehill scree bash of the worst kind, and I probably would have made
better time if I had gone the other way. Nevertheless, I endured
about 2.5 hours of miserable stumbling before I finally reached the crest
of the northeast ridge. From there, the route to the summit is
quite straightforward, and I topped out a little over 6 hours after
leaving my car.
I essentially retraced my steps for the return trip,
and though I saved a bit of time glissading snow patches in the upper bowl,
the descent back into the valley was just as tedious as the ascent.
It was getting dark by the time I regained the old road at the mouth of
the valley, but all
difficulties were behind me as I hiked back over Grass Pass to Highway
541. My round-trip time was less than 10.5 hours.
||This is the view of Mount Head from
Grass Pass. Sonny's approximate ascent route is shown.
||This is where the tributary of Wileman
Creek branches west. There are some good game trails in the
||The upper bowl reveals itself at tree
||From this vantage point in the upper
bowl, the summit (knob at left) is still a long ways off.
||Sonny steadies himself on the loose
rubble. The northeast outlier of Mount Head is visible behind
||This is looking up at the remainder of
the route from the crest of the northeast ridge just west of the middle
||The west side of the middle bump looks
Sonny carefully crosses a lingering snow cornice on the summit ridge.
||This is the survey marker at the
summit of Mount Head.
||Sonny grasps both his ice axe and the
metal pole on the 2782-metre summit of Mount Head.
||This is the connecting ridge to Holy
||The view to the northwest features
Mist Mountain and Mount Rae on the far horizon.