Mount Sarrail
I opened my eyes at about 8:00 AM on 23 July 2006 inside the tent I was sharing with Linda Breton and Dan Millar.  Although the sun had not quite hit our tent yet, the air was already warm on this second day of a weekend backpack/scrambling trip to Aster Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  Dave MacDonald, who had slept in a separate tent, strolled by in his bare feet to check if we were awake.  He looked quite relaxed and had obviously sprayed himself with copious amounts of bug repellent.  I did likewise and practically had a DEET bath after getting out of our tent.  We all had a leisurely breakfast before striking camp, and it was almost 11:00 AM by the time we left Aster Lake campground.  While Linda and Dan were content to simply return to the trailhead, Dave and I decided to bag Mount Sarrail before heading out.  Since Dave had his car at the trailhead, I flipped Dan my car keys while he and Linda gave Dave and me their extra water.  Dave and I left our backpacks at noon and started up Mount Sarrail's west ridge.

Climbing up the west ridge was technically quite easy, but Dave and I were both weary from the heat as well as the previous day's exertions.  Luckily, there was a slight breeze higher up the ridge which helped to keep the temperature bearable, and we passed the time nicely with our conversations.  We both reached the summit at 2:50 PM and spent about fifty minutes there before descending.  During our ascent, Dave and I were both eyeing the small glacier hugging the north face of Mount Sarrail.  Despite some icy patches and steep sections, the glacier looked fairly safe and free of crevasses.  I convinced Dave that the glacier would make for a quicker and easier descent than retracing our steps back down the west ridge.  Dave did not have an ice axe, but he did fine with his crampons and the ski poles I lent him.  While we mostly plunge-stepped down the steep, upper part of the glacier, we enjoyed some great glissading lower down.  All too soon we were back to stumbling down endless piles of rubble.  We eventually regained the lower part of the west ridge and returned to our backpacks by 5:30 PM.

The rest of our return trip was simply hellish.  Descending some parts of the headwall with a heavy pack was tricky if not also scary.  I had my doubts about whether I could stop myself if I slipped and tumbled down the rubble slope.  Toward the bottom of the headwall, I was looking forward to taking my boots off for a well-deserved rest when a sudden thundershower prompted us to keep moving down into the trees.  The rain, while refreshingly cool, also made the trail and deadfall around Hidden Lake dangerously slick.  During the seventy minutes that it took us to get around the lake, I cursed virtually every awkward log I had to climb over and under, every undulation of the trail which cruelly added needless height gain, and every Kananaskis Country administrator who did not deem it necessary or desirable to improve this miserable access route.  By the time Dave and I made it back to the main trail on the south side of Upper Kananaskis Lake, we were both exhausted and mentally frazzled.  It took us another ninety minutes to trudge back to Dave's car (made it back by 9:48 PM), and the last couple of kilometres were especially painful on the feet.  As uncomfortable as my wet boots were, I kept them on out of respect for Dave as he drove me back to Dan's place to pick up my car.  That is the price of success, I guess.

Check out Dave's trip report and photos here.
We had no problems with porcupines on this trip. Dave gives his tent a shake at Aster Lake campground.
It's already getting bloody hot. This is Mount Sarrail and its west ridge as seen from Aster Lake campground.
My glissade tracks are still visible (barely) on that middle snow patch! Here is a close-up view of Mount Cordonnier as seen from the lower west ridge of Mount Sarrail.
Dave and I kept eyeing that glacier the whole way up... A small glacier covers the north side of Mount Sarrail.
Hmmm...that snow slope looks really steep from this angle. Dave slogs up the west ridge of Mount Sarrail.
A slight breeze kept things bearable and made all the difference on this hot day. The west ridge is long but generally easy to climb up.  Aster Lake is visible in the distance.
Dave peed on this glacier!  Hee hee! Dave negotiates a tricky spot where the glacier abuts the ridge.
Yeah, my shorts are a little flowery, but they're comfortable nonetheless! Dave and Sonny stand on the 3174-metre summit of Mount Sarrail.
Looks like a good scramble... East of Mount Sarrail is this nub unofficially known as "The Turret".
This was Dave's first peak over 3000 metres.  Congratulations, Dave! To the southwest, Mount Joffre rises up behind Dave.
Hmm...that parking lot looks awfully far away... A short walk along the north ridge grants this unobstructed view of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes.
Foch yeah! The connecting ridge to Mount Foch looks spectacular.
Foch yeah times two! The view to the west includes Aster Lake, The Royal Group (on horizon) and Mount Lyautey (far right).
Hard to believe we would later descend the glacier on the right. Dave leaves the summit of Mount Sarrail.
This part was quite steep and a little scary. Dave walks down his second glacier of the weekend.
This was Dave's first glissade!  Congratulations, Dave! Dave slips and goes for a short involuntary glissade.
We gave the ice patch a wide berth to the right on our descent. Dave gets up after a terrific glissade.
No serious issues for the rest of the least to our backpacks! Dave traverses easy rubble to get back to the west ridge.
Seventy minutes of sheer hell coming up! This is looking north toward Mount Indefatigable from the south end of Hidden Lake.
My feet hurt...real bad... Dave emerges from the trees after an exasperating seventy minutes of climbing over and under deadfall while being hounded by mosquitoes.  The parking lot is still another gruelling ninety minutes away though.