Roche Perdrix
The weather forecast promised warm and sunny weather for the Canadian Rockies on 11 February 2006, but despite good intentions, I did not sleep well the night before and woke up relatively late that morning.  Still determined to not let the day go to waste, I packed up my car with both scrambling and ski gear and headed out to the mountains.  About ten minutes from my house, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to bring my ski poles.  I just about gave up right there, but a quick glance to the mountains out west convinced me to go retrieve my poles and head out again.

The weather in the Canadian Rockies was indeed fantastic, and snow-clad peaks were dazzling to behold in every direction.  Yet, for one reason or another, I ended up driving all the way to the eastern boundary of Jasper National Park to scramble up lowly Roche Perdrix.  I had definitely lost my mind, but I started up the trail at 2:18 PM anyway.  I had no problems going up the north ridge, but when I began to contour along the base of the cliffs on the east side of the mountain, I encountered more and more snow and ice.  I was soon forced to put on my crampons, but they were immediately useful for ascending a couple of long, snow-filled gullies as well as some tedious rubble slopes.  Higher up the mountain, the crampons were less effective on mixed terrain consisting of powder snow and smooth slabs.  However, there were enough steep, icy sections to warrant keeping the crampons on.  My progress up this last section was frustratingly slow, but I eventually stumbled my way up to the summit at 6:00 PM.  A brisk wind picked up, and I quickly snapped a few photographs and signed the register before turning my attention to the descent.

Despite the growing darkness, the moon was up in the eastern sky, and I could see well enough for the most part to make my way down the upper mountain safely.  My crampons were invaluable for descending the gullies and other icy sections.  Lower down, I easily retraced the route along the base of the cliffs but had to bushwhack a bit to get back onto the north ridge.  The north ridge was also a bit tricky to descend in the dark because of some rock outcrops and braided trails.  My headlamp proved to be useful here and in the trees.  I made it back to my car by 8:45 PM.  The long drive home was more scenic than I would have imagined as the moon dramatically illuminated all the peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
Hopefully, you're on your way down if you take this photo at 2:46 PM in February! This is Roche Perdrix as seen from its north ridge.
Still a lot of work ahead. The scramble route essentially hugs the base of these cliffs on the east side of the mountain.
What a waste of a clear, sunny day! Sonny hikes along the cliff base.  The route turns the corner and goes up the snow patch.
This gully gets quite steep further up. Sonny takes advantage of a snow-filled gully to easily gain some elevation.
What the heck am I doing here at 4:11 PM?? This is looking back at the cliff base from the snow-filled gully.
I guess the day wasn't a total waste... The last rays of sunshine disappear behind the mountains to the west.
Gotta love the sound of steel crampons scraping against rock! Sonny approaches the summit in fading light.
I wouldn't recommend this as a day trip from Calgary... Sonny puts his boot on the summit cairn of Roche Perdrix (2135 metres).
Hmmm...I wonder how many people actually bother going further... Alan Kane describes this ridge to the southeast as a feasible extension to the scramble up Roche Perdrix.
Night descents are so much more interesting... Sonny's left foot and one of his ski poles are pointed down the slope into the abyss.