The morning got off to a rather inauspicious start. Parry had suggested that we all meet at Phil's house but inadvertently gave everyone the wrong address--actually a non-existent one! Miraculously, we all somehow managed to find Phil's house anyway, and after agreeing that this was likely the crux of the entire trip, we all piled into two cars and headed out to the mountains.
Parry had gotten the idea to scramble up Cockscomb Mountain from Bob Spirko, and we essentially followed the same route with some minor deviations. After a fairly long and tedious approach through forest and up Ranger Creek, we ascended a broad, open gully to climber's left of Bob's route. A light dusting of snow made the already loose rubble here even more slippery, and consequently, the footing was terrible. Halfway up the gully, the group split in half with Mike, Parry and Jen scrambling over steep terrain onto an adjacent ridge (rejoining Bob's route) while Kari, Phil and I continued up to a high col at GR891773. From the col, the three of us bypassed a gendarme before scrambling up a rather challenging ridge to a shoulder just north of a false summit. The other three awaited us there. From the shoulder, we all proceeded easily over the false summit and reached the true summit shortly thereafter.
On descent, we retraced our steps back to the shoulder and then
dropped down to tree line while angling over to a narrow gully on skier's
left. Unlike our ascent gully, this gully is guarded on the sides
by steep slabs, and we had some trouble getting down here. The
grassy slopes in the trees were so steep and slippery that I considered
donning my crampons. With six of us descending here, rockfall was
also a serious hazard. Remarkably, we all managed to drop down into
the gully unscathed. Though we ended up a little further northwest
on the highway from where we parked our cars, our hike out Ranger Creek
was largely uneventful (round-trip time was a little over 9.5 hours).
While Cockscomb Mountain is not likely to make many peak-baggers' top ten
lists, the views from the summit are surprisingly good, and on this day,
it was my pleasure to scramble with some fine company.
|The morning sun lights up Pilot Mountain.|
|The group endures some light bushwhacking.|
|Parry carefully crosses a man-made boardwalk.|
|Jen descends a rickety old ladder while Parry and Mike wait below.|
|The group tramps up alongside Ranger Creek.|
|An ice curtain forms below a log.|
|Mount Ball is one of the first peaks visible to the west as the views begin to open up near the head of the valley.|
|Mike heads up steep, snowy terrain.|
|Phil and Kari slog up a long and slippery slope of rubble.|
|The sight of Mount Ishbel alleviates some of the misery in climbing Cockscomb Mountain.|
|An ominous-looking gendarme blocks the ridge north of Cockscomb Mountain's false summit.|
|The south end of Cascade Mountain can be seen to the east.|
|Kari watches as Phil scrambles up a slippery corner to bypass the gendarme.|
|Parry (left) and Jen ascend an adjacent ridge to the west.|
|Here is the view to the northwest showcasing Mount Ishbel's south ridge. Eisenhower Tower (Castle Mountain) and Mount Temple are also visible in the distance at centre.|
|Mike charges up the false summit of Cockscomb Mountain.|
|The true summit is a short distance away.|
|The group climbs up the final slope.|
|The most striking view from the summit of Cockscomb Mountain is that of Mounts Fifi and Louis to the southeast. Mount Rundle dominates the horizon.|
|Standing around a kneeling Sonny on the 2776-metre summit of Cockscomb Mountain are (L to R) Phil, Kari, Parry, Jen and Mike.|
|Sonny descends from the false summit.
Photo courtesy of Parry Loeffler
|The group descends the ridge that Mike, Parry and Jen came up.|
|There are some interesting ice formations in Ranger Creek on this day.|
|Jen is all smiles upon arriving back at the cars.|