Mount Ball And Beatrice Peak
Of all the peaks in Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Ball is arguably the most inaccessible.  While 1820 metres of elevation gain is daunting enough, having to bushwhack for six or seven kilometres up Haffner Creek would turn off all but the most masochistic gluttons for punishment.  So naturally I wanted to go do it, and Bob Parr was quite eager to tag along!  From a base camp at the head of Haffner Creek, Paul Russell and Dave Stephens had previously bagged Stanley Peak, Mount Ball and Beatrice Peak over two days, and this would be roughly the same strategy we would use on our attempt.  Bob and I agreed that Mount Ball was our top priority, and we would try to bag it and Beatrice Peak on our first day.

I picked up Bob from his place in the wee hours of the morning of 26 August 2006 and drove out to Marble Canyon Campground in Kootenay National Park.  Because the campground was closed due to a bear in the area, I parked my car near a house (some kind of shelter for fire crews) just west of the campground.  There is a gravel road here which heads off into the woods near a barn, and I was hoping we could follow it without much fuss to the canyon at the mouth of the valley.  We were on our way by 6:54 AM but immediately discovered that the road ends abruptly at Haffner Creek.  Rather than bushwhack alongside the creek, we elected to backtrack to the highway and proceed through the rather convoluted loops of Marble Canyon Campground (and ignoring the bear warning sign) until we found the start as described by Kane.  We spent the next several hours side-hill bashing, crawling over and under tangled messes of deadfall, hopping slippery boulders in the creek, and tripping over nasty surprises hidden by fireweed.  Doing this with a full backpack was physically tiring, but more significantly, it was mentally draining.  We had to constantly stay focused on route-finding, and with little to look at but charred tree trunks and knowing full well that we would have to suffer a return trip the following day, I found it difficult to keep my enthusiasm up.  Sharing the misery with Bob helped immensely though as one look at his soot-covered face was enough to make me chuckle and lift my spirits.

By 11:13 AM, we had cleared the last of the deadfall and were finally climbing the headwall into the upper basin.  Dave had described a great camp spot at the last trees, but after all the bushwhacking, I had forgotten most of the details of his report.  Bob and I came upon a sparsely treed area near the end of a long moraine, and although there were plenty of nice spots to pitch our tents, we could not find any reliable sources of water.  Despite some searching about, all we could find was a very small trickle of water emanating from a karst pavement and collecting in a pathetic little bowl about the size of a cantaloupe.  Rather than waste time trying to find more water, we simply hung our camping gear on a small larch tree near my little bowl in hopes of dealing with the issue later.  It was already 1:25 PM by the time we resumed our ascent of Mount Ball.

After crossing some dark-coloured karst pavement, we entered the scree bowl below Beatrice Peak and began the long slog up toward an obvious break in the cliff band guarding the ridge above.  Water was quite abundant in the bowl, and we felt some relief in being able to replenish our water bottles here.  While Bob continued climbing at a pretty good pace, I was starting to run out of gas and had a tough time keeping up with him.  Upon reaching the crest of the connecting ridge between Beatrice Peak and Mount Ball at 4:06 PM, I was disheartened to see that Mount Ball's summit was still far away and that we had to scramble over an intervening bump along the ridge.  This bump actually perked me up a bit as it required some hands-on scrambling to surmount.  While Bob stayed on the scree on the final slope, I opted to don my crampons and trudge up the snowfield which was actually more like a sheet of ice.  Although messing with the crampons was time-consuming, hiking up the snow field gave me a bit of a mental break since I did not have to worry so much about my footing.  Bob reached the summit well before me and was kind enough to endure a bitterly cold wind while waiting for me to join him.  I topped out at 6:06 PM.  After signing the summit register, I convinced Bob to start heading down while I stayed a little longer to snap a few more photographs.  I then whipped out my ice axe and glissaded down the snowfield not realizing that Bob had actually stopped higher up on the scree to wait for me.  When he finally spotted me well below him, Bob quickly descended the scree, and together, we headed back along the ridge to Beatrice Peak.
Bob is barely visible just left of centre. Blackened tree trunks and fireweed typify much of the terrain along Haffner Creek.
I discovered that one of my sandals was missing here.  The implications of this wouldn't hit home until I got back to my car the next evening! Bob thrashes through some nasty deadfall.
Bob actually holds his knee caps together as he climbs! This is looking back down Haffner Creek from the headwall.  Vermilion Peak is at upper left.
We should have camped near here.  There is actually a good reliable source of water near here which we missed on the way up. Mount Ball (centre) finally comes into view at tree line.  The scree cone in the middle gives access to the dark-coloured karst pavement.
The break in the upper cliff band is also readily visible. Bob hikes along the dark-coloured karst pavement.  Beatrice Peak is on the left.
Might be easier to squeeze blood out of the stone... Bob tries to fetch some water oozing out of the karst pavement.
We tried to stick close to the dark slabs at right where the footing was better. The slog begins!  The obvious break in the cliff band is visible at upper right.
Boy, was I ever tired by this point! Bob scrambles up above the cliff band.
Some good scrambling coming up! Bob hikes along the connecting ridge between Beatrice Peak and Mount Ball.
It's farther away than it looks. This is Mount Ball as seen from the connecting ridge.
Kane advises passing this buttress on the left, but steep snow and ice made that route too dangerous on this day. Bob scrambles up the intervening bump along the ridge.
Possibly an alternate route from Isabelle Peak? This snowy dome is the southern outlier of Mount Ball.
All these ups and downs are rather annoying! Bob drops down from the intervening bump along the ridge.
There was about an inch or two of wet snow sitting atop pure ice. Bob strays onto the snowfield very briefly.
Eleven hours marks the longest ascent of a single peak for me! Bob's pose sort of sums up how tiring it is to reach Mount Ball's summit.
What an endurance test to get here! Bob and Sonny sit on the 3306-metre summit of Mount Ball.
If you look closely, you can also see Mount Joffre just to the left! Here is an obligatory shot of Mount Assiniboine to the south.
Beatrice Peak is also visible but hard to distinguish. This is looking northwest toward Stanley Peak.  On the horizon at left are the Goodsirs.
More scree slogging than you can shake a stick at! The view to the north includes Storm Mountain and Castle Mountain.
There are some non-Kane scrambles in the Egypt Lake area (left of centre). Here is a more comprehensive view to the south.
Cool ice. Bob climbs back up to the bump along the ridge.
Traversing the connecting ridge to Beatrice Peak was straightforward but time-consuming.  Bob and I reached the summit at 8:03 PM about 90 minutes after leaving the top of Mount Ball.  As daylight began to fade, we hastily retreated down into the bowl below Beatrice Peak and stumbled back to the dark-coloured karst pavement.  We took out our headlamps here, but even then, route-finding in the dark was tricky.  We knew the general direction we were supposed to be heading, but distinct landmarks were hard to come by.  When we finally got off the dark-coloured karst pavement and onto grass and rubble, we came across a good, reliable spring--likely the source of water that Dave mentioned in his report.  Just past the spring, we started seeing trees, but as we continued descending, none of the terrain looked familiar.  At this point, trying to find our camping gear in the dark was akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.  It was past 10:00 PM, and we were both pretty exhausted.  Bivouacking in our clothes was a distinct possibility.  In a last ditch effort, I convinced Bob that we had veered a little too far to the north, and we began heading south.  A short while later, I noticed a wet smear on a rock and immediately knew that my pathetic little bowl of water was nearby.  Within seconds, we found, with great relief, our camping gear hanging from the larch tree just as we had left it.  Skipping dinner, we quickly pitched our single-person tents and retired to our respective sleeping bags to end a brutally long day of scrambling.
It's another half hour to the summit from here. Bob heads back along the connecting ridge toward Beatrice Peak.
A pleasant scramble the rest of the way. Bob sticks close to the ridge crest on his way up Beatrice Peak.
Second peak of the day! Bob and Sonny reach the 3125-metre summit of Beatrice Peak.
But first, let's get off this peak before it gets dark! As the sun disappears over the horizon behind Bob, he contemplates the next day's adventures on Stanley Peak.
Still a long way back to camp... The last rays of sunshine illuminate this ridge southwest of Mount Ball.
A small waterfall makes some of the rocks here quite slick. Bob down-climbs the aforementioned obvious break in the cliff band.
The following day, Bob and I would tackle Stanley Peak.