Mount Richardson And Pika Peak
September 4, 2006 was the last day of a three-day visit to the Skoki area in Banff National Park by Kelly Wood and me.  While Kelly Wood relaxed at Hidden Lake Campground, I headed out at 10:06 AM to bag Mount Richardson.  Incidentally, I bumped into Peter Nelson earlier in the morning; he had climbed Mount Richardson the previous day.  A pretty good beaten path all the way up the mountain attests to its popularity, and I had no serious difficulties in reaching the top by 12:48 PM.  During my ascent, I caught up to a couple who eventually introduced themselves to me as Robert Lee and Linda Cook.  I immediately recognized Robert's name from a local online climbing bulletin board, and they in turn had heard of me through an ex-colleague of mine who presently works for Linda.  Both Robert and Linda work in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine, and I was honoured to share the summit with them.  Since they were also heading for Pika Peak, I accompanied them on the descent of Mount Richardson's east ridge.
Not much more than a long slog, really. This is Mount Richardson as seen from the trail to Hidden Lake.
It's not hidden anymore! Hidden Lake appears tranquil from this vantage point on Mount Richardson's south ridge.
Probably another valley that is seldom visited. This is an unnamed valley southwest of Mount Richardson.  Mount Daly and Mount Balfour are a couple of the more recognizable peaks on the horizon.
Just follow the beaten path. This is looking up at the remainder of the route from the south ridge.
A couple of peaks with rich histories. Mount Lefroy (left) and Mount Victoria are prominently visible to the southwest.
Further up, it's better to get off the beaten path and pick your own way. Linda and Robert hike up lots of treadmill rubble just below the summit of Mount Richardson.
This is probably the true summit since there's so much junk up here! Although this broad area is likely the true summit of Mount Richardson (3086 metres), Robert heads toward a nub in the distance which seemingly looks higher.
Now that flat spot we just passed looks higher... Linda (barely visible at centre) makes her way up to the nub.
Puny Skoki Mountain is also visible at upper right. Merlin Lake looks magical from the top of Mount Richardson.
If nothing else, this feels more like a summit! Robert, Linda and Sonny pose beside a cairn on the nub.  Mount Hector is visible at left.
The west ridge of Pika Peak looks a little daunting, doesn't it? This is looking across the intervening col to Pika Peak.
Snoopy sleeping on his dog house. Here is a close-up view of Mount Hector.
After an exhilarating glissade down Mount Richardson's east ridge, Robert, Linda and I hiked across the col to the base of Pika Peak's west ridge.  Linda was not feeling well at this point and decided to forego an ascent of Pika Peak.  Robert and I continued up the ridge, and we were both on our second summit of the day by 2:23 PM.  We parted company here, and Robert descended quickly to rejoin his wife for a speedy descent back to Hidden Lake and out.  I lingered on the summit for a bit longer before making my way carefully back down to the col.  From there, I followed a beaten path traversing below Pika Peak's south face.  At one point, I turned around to snap a photograph of Mount Richardson when I suddenly heard some rockfall clattering high above me.  I looked up and noticed that, among the many rocks bouncing down the slope, there was one that was about the size of a large television set.  Although all the rocks bounced harmlessly past me a few feet away, it was a little disconcerting to know that I would have been directly in the path of the rocks had I not turned around just at that precise moment to snap my photograph.  I resumed my descent without further incident and eventually made it back to the campground by 4:13 PM.  Kelly had actually gone to Hidden Lake to wait for me there but did not realize that I had bypassed the lake on my way down.  She eventually found me back in camp, and together, we packed up and headed for home.  Although the hike back to my car was mostly downhill and technically easy, the hot afternoon sun and bagging five peaks over three days were taking their toll on me.  The last few kilometres along Temple Fire Road were especially painful on my poor feet.  Next time I come back, I will be bringing either my bicycle or my skis!
Excellent glissading here although the snow was a bit wet. Linda and Robert descend Mount Richardson's east ridge.
The few snow patches here and there were not a factor on this day. This is the west ridge of Pika Peak as viewed from the col.
Robert is a fast climber and eventually blew right by me. Robert climbs up the west ridge.
This is your playground if you like lots of hands-on stuff! Robert (left of centre) continues scrambling up the ridge.
It looks feasible to scramble up some of the ridges surrounding Merlin Lake. Here is Merlin Lake as seen from the upper slopes of Pika Peak.
We're almost at the top. Robert walks along the summit ridge.
This is roughly where Dave Stephens and Paul Russell turned back on their attempt of Pika Peak in 2003. Sonny approaches the summit.
That glacier in the foreground looks wild! This is looking down on Myosotis Lake (top) and Zigadenus Lake from the summit of Pika Peak.
I wonder if that bump between Pika Peak and Ptarmigan Peak is feasible as a scramble. Robert stands beside a cairn near the summit of Pika Peak.  Ptarmigan Peak is at left just above the glacier.
And the walls came tumbling down! North of Pika Peak is the striking Wall of Jericho.
Looks better from this angle. Mount Richardson dominates the view to the west.
A cover photo for the next edition of 'Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies'? Sonny stands atop the 3033-metre summit of Pika Peak.
A good beaten path heads off to the left from here. This is looking down at Hidden Lake from the base of Pika Peak's west ridge.  Lipalian Mountain can be seen at centre.
This is the photo I took just before some rocks came crashing down behind me! Here is Mount Richardson as viewed from below Pika Peak's south face.
It was so hot that I should have gone for a dip in the lake. Mount Richardson's south ridge provides a nice backdrop for Hidden Lake.  Mount Temple can be seen at far left.