Skoki Mountain And Oyster Peak
After spending a chilly night at Hidden Lake Campground in Banff National Park, Kelly Wood and I embarked on what would turn out to be a very long day trip into the heart of the Skoki area on 3 September 2006.  Leaving the campground at 10:12 AM, we hiked past Ptarmigan Lake and over Deception Pass to Skoki Lodge.  While Kelly kept herself occupied with some books, I continued alone up the trail behind the outhouses at 12:39 PM to scramble up Skoki Mountain.  Following a well-marked beaten path most of the way up, I reached the summit without trouble at 2:13 PM.  The warm weather made it tempting to linger on the summit, but seeing Oyster Peak so tantalizingly close prompted me to get moving again once I completed all my usual summit chores.  I rejoined Kelly at 3:13 PM, and we promptly headed east over Jones Pass.
I never tire of this view! Fossil Mountain, Mount Douglas and Mount St. Bride are reflected in Ptarmigan Lake.
It's tempting to just hang out here all day! This is looking east across Ptarmigan Lake toward Mount St. Bride (left) and Brachiopod Mountain (right).
If you look closely enough, you can even pick out that pseudo-peak known as Sheol Mountain! This is the classic view from Deception Pass of Redoubt Mountain above Ptarmigan Lake.  In the distance at far right is Hungabee Mountain.
A rather modest but odd-looking peak. This is Skoki Mountain as seen from the trail between Deception Pass and Skoki Lodge.
Despite initial appearances, Skoki Lodge was less than charming on this day... This is Skoki Lodge.
I didn't bother checking out the "peepipe". This is the sign near the outhouses directing hikers to Skoki Mountain.
Hmmm...that reminds me.  I should go see my dentist soon. Molar Mountain looks striking from the upper slopes of Skoki Mountain.
There were lots of cairns all over the place! Sonny hikes up typical rubble on the upper slopes of Skoki Mountain.
I think the snowy peak at centre is Mount Drummond. This is looking down on the largest of the Red Deer Lakes from near the top of Skoki Mountain.
Apparently a lot of Orientals come up here. Sonny holds up the Thermos bottle containing the register on the 2696-metre summit of Skoki Mountain.
It's shaping up to be a very long day... This is looking east toward Mount Douglas and Mount St. Bride.  Sonny's eventual ascent (red) and descent (green) routes on Oyster Peak are shown.
Also collectively known as the Skoki Lakes. The view to the southwest is dominated by Ptarmigan Peak and Pika Peak (far right).  Myosotis Lake (front) and Zigadenus Lake are also visible.
Got anything to eat? Sonny's summit chores attract a curious golden-mantled ground squirrel.
After hiking through Jones Pass, Kelly and I parted company again.  While she turned southeast to head for Cotton Grass Pass (and return to Hidden Lake Campground via Baker Lake), I followed the trail to Red Deer Lakes for about a kilometre before making a beeline for the north end of Oyster Peak.  The route I chose to ascend is steep and exposed, and although the scrambling was exciting, there were moments when I wondered if I might have gotten in a little over my head.  Near the top, I had to scramble up a very loose gully and finish with some awkward moves around a small chock stone.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief after surmounting this obstacle.  Some plodding and a few short sections of exposed scrambling got me to the summit of Oyster Peak by 6:57 PM.  Although I had hoped to traverse over to the lower south summit, daylight was disappearing rapidly, and I opted to descend as quickly as possible to Cotton Grass Pass.  Once I picked up the trail in the valley, I settled into a very long and slightly surreal march back to Hidden Lake Campground via Baker Lake.  It was probably around 10:30 PM by the time I stumbled into camp, and I simply had a drink before crawling into the tent beside Kelly and falling asleep.
Not a route that I would really recommend, especially late in the day! This is looking up the route that Sonny would ascend on the north end of Oyster Peak.
Very nasty scrambling here. This steep and loose gully gives access to the summit ridge.
Time to breathe easier. Sonny approaches the summit of Oyster Peak from the north.
My toughest scramble so far in the Skoki area. Sonny tags the 2777-metre summit of Oyster Peak.
Too bad I had to forego the traverse. This is looking south along the connecting ridge to Oyster Peak's lower south summit.  Cotton Grass Pass is at right.
Possibly worth exploring in the future...on horseback! Northeast of Oyster Peak is the Red Deer River valley.
Looks like there might be a feasible scramble route... Mount Douglas dominates the view to the east.
Doesn't appear to be a scramble from this angle. Southeast of Oyster Peak is Mount St. Bride.
Descending the west slopes can be tricky. The late day sun lights up the west slopes of Oyster Peak.
Somehow, I missed the first turn-off to Baker Lake somewhere here and had to take a second turn-off.  I blame the moon. The moon rises in the evening sky in this view south from Cotton Grass Pass.  At far right is Mount Avens.