Mount Pocaterra
When I ascended Mount Tyrwhitt in 1997, the revised edition (1995) of Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies did not contain the extension to unofficially named Mount Pocaterra.  When Mount Pocaterra showed up in Kane's new edition (1999), I was dismayed by the prospect of having to re-climb Mount Tyrwhitt not only once but twice in order to claim the new summit.  I put the peak on the backburner although every once in awhile I considered the possibility of ascending the west slope via a ski or bike approach from Elk Pass.  Some time in the past year, Bob Parr told me that it was possible to ascend Mount Pocaterra from the east without having to go over Mount Tyrwhitt.  Unfortunately, I did not get him to elaborate on the details, and when I drove out to Highwood Pass in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park on 30 July 2006 to scramble up Mount Pocaterra, I intended to take Kane's route over Mount Tyrwhitt.  As I hiked in toward Pocaterra Cirque, I curiously looked up to see where it might be feasible to scramble up the east face, and sure enough, I spotted what appeared to be a scree run just a little south of Mount Pocaterra's first summit.  From my initial vantage point, I could not tell if the top and bottom of the route were guarded by cliff bands, but the scree run looked like it had seen some traffic.  When I reached the turn-off to Grizzly Col, I stood there for a few minutes looking up at the east face route.  Some of the lower cliff bands looked a little daunting, but I thought I could spot a weakness, a gully running diagonally up to the right.  I still could not see exactly where the route breached the upper cliff bands though.  I had a tough decision to make (insert Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken here).  Finally, curiosity (and maybe some laziness) got the better of me, and I decided to go for the east face route.

Just as I took my first steps toward Little Highwood Pass, I was accosted by a group of elderly hikers coming down from Pocaterra Ridge (the ridge walk, not to be confused with the Kane scramble) who in their exuberance were less than satisfied with my simple greeting of "Hi."  "Are you all by yourself?" asked one gentleman.  "Yes," I answered as truthfully as I could.  The gentleman persisted, "Do you know where you're going?"  "Maybe," I replied evasively.  In fact, I did not know exactly where the east face route breaches the ridge crest, but I had a feeling these hikers would not know either.  Inevitably, I was barraged with directions on how to get up Pocaterra Ridge interspersed with superlatives on how beautiful it was up there and that there were twenty other people coming down behind them.  Yeah, now I really wanna go up Pocaterra Ridge.  I quickly changed the topic of conversation to the nice weather, and that seemed to appease them enough to let me go on my merry way.

Heading north toward Little Highwood Pass, I began angling up scree slopes to the base of the lower cliff bands.  The aforementioned gully looked feasible to ascend, but I opted to save it for the descent and instead tackled the rock rib just to the left of it.  Once I got above this section, the rest of the east face route became apparent.  I scrambled up a mix of slabs and rubble until it was feasible to simply hike (to climber's left) through a breach in the upper cliff bands to gain the ridge crest.  From there, I continued for another forty-five minutes along the remainder of Kane's route (more challenging than his moderate rating would suggest) to the main summit.  I spent about thirty minutes at the summit doing my usual chores and occasionally eyeing with some nervousness the storm clouds rolling over Mount Tyrwhitt to the south.  My descent was fast and mostly trouble-free.  I found a lot of good scree to surf down the east face route, and only the gully, which is very loose and slippery, presented any difficulties.  Soon after I descended to the draw south of Little Highwood Pass, snow and rain began to fall.  Except for a lone moose, I saw no one else on the hike out (round-trip time of just over 5.5 hours).  The moose did not even wait for me to say "Hi" before it disappeared into the bush.  Moose know better than to talk to strangers!
Still looks a bit daunting from this angle... This is looking up at Mount Pocaterra from Pocaterra Cirque.  Little Highwood Pass and Pocaterra Ridge are just out of view to the right.  The access route is shown.
It's also possible to take my descent gully on the way up. Here is a closer look at the weakness in the first cliff band.  The red arrow shows Sonny's ascent route while the green arrow shows his descent route.
Stick to slabs going up, and take the rubble going down. Sonny scrambles up typical terrain on the east face.
Someday I'll go back and hike over that unnamed ridge at left. This is a view of Grizzly Col and Mount Tyrwhitt (right) from further up the east face.  At far left on the horizon is Mist Mountain.
Too easy. Sonny hikes up to the ridge crest.
Another bonus of the east face route is that you don't miss out on any of the interesting sections of the summit ridge. This is looking up at the remainder of the ridge from where the east face route tops out.
The wind really made the interesting bits even more interesting! The ridge narrows as Sonny approaches the first summit.
Hmmm...looks kinda stormy in the distance... This is a view of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes from the ridge.
It looks very pleasant down there. The creek on the north side of Little Highwood Pass looks neat from high up.
There's a tricky notch just beyond me in the photo. Sonny walks along one of the many exposed sections of the summit ridge.  The main summit is just out of view to the right.
It took me 3 hours and 15 minutes to get here from the parking lot. Sonny holds up the register canister on the 2934-metre summit of Mount Pocaterra.
Like walking a tightrope--great stuff! This is looking back at the first summit and the exposed connecting ridge from the main summit.  Mount Tyrwhitt is visible in the distance.
Amazing view. The view north of the summit includes Gap Mountain, numerous peaks of the Opal Range, Elpoca Mountain, Tombstone South, Elbow Lake, and even Mount Cornwall.  Stretching from centre to bottom right is the northern half of Pocaterra Ridge.
The Pétain Basin is a remarkable area that is well worth a visit. To the southwest is Pétain Glacier and Mount Joffre.
If you look carefully, you can even see a trail below the right skyline. Mount Rae dominates the view to the east.
Looks like a great place to camp! Here is a close-up of Elbow Lake.
Looks like Mr. Collier had the same idea as me. This sheet was left in the canister beside the soaking wet register.
Boy, am I glad I don't have to go all the way back over Mount Tyrwhitt! From the first summit, this is looking south at the connecting ridge to Mount Tyrwhitt.  The east face route is also visible at the bottom.
There once was a man from Nantucket... This impressive pinnacle serves as a good marker for exiting the ridge onto the east face.
Not exposed but tricky to descend because of all the loose rock. This is looking back up Sonny's descent gully.
Looks like some wet weather is coming in... This is a foreshortened view of the east face route from just south of Little Highwood Pass.