Mount Weed
On 14 May 2006, I drove up the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park for my second attempt at scrambling up Mount Weed.  On my first attempt about three weeks earlier, I was stymied by deep snow and potential avalanche danger.  This time, I was hoping that conditions would be more favourable, but as I crested Bow Summit in my car, I could see that Mount Weed was still plastered with snow.  A successful ascent seemed unlikely on this day.  After making a pit stop at the Bow Summit parking lot, I considered driving further to the town of Jasper or the Abraham Lake area, but given the relative lateness of the day, my options for peak-bagging were quickly dwindling.  I decided to take another look at Mount Weed's upper slopes.  Upon closer scrutiny, I could see evidence of what looked like wet snow avalanches all along the ascent route.  It looked like anything that had the potential to avalanche had already done so.  Furthermore, I knew from my first attempt that the snow in the avalanche runout zones would be fairly compacted and thus ideal for hiking.  Despite some lingering uncertainties, I parked my car and began bushwhacking up the access drainage.

On my first attempt, deep snow hampered my upward progress even below tree line.  This time, most of the lower mountain was dry, and I had no serious problems in getting up to the main avalanche slope just past some huge boulders.  I soon reached snow line and predictably sank to my knees after the first few steps.  This was short-lived though, and the snow conditions improved enough to hold my weight until I reached the lowest of the runout zones--essentially a sea of big, tumbled snowballs.  I put on my crampons here to improve my traction and began the long slog upwards.  As I had anticipated, hiking up the runout zones proved to be easy--almost too easy.  The ascent started to get a little monotonous after awhile, and I would scoot outside the runout zones every so often and post-hole for a bit just to remind myself that monotony beats post-holing any day!  At least I had ample time to think of a limerick for the summit register.

An eternity later, I reached the base of the final gully leading to the summit ridge.  I was starting to tire at this point, and this last section seemed to take just as long to ascend as the rest of the mountain.  The terrain is also increasingly steeper here, and I chose to veer over to climber's right further up.  Cornices on the summit ridge required some care to negotiate, but I managed to work my way safely to the summit cairn.  I spent about half an hour on the summit photographing, reading and writing (sounds like stuff I could do in the comfort of my home) before beginning my descent.  Although I was too chicken to glissade down the steep gully just below the summit ridge, there were plenty of excellent glissading opportunities further down.  That and a generous amount of plunge-stepping down the avalanche runout zones had me back at snow line in no time.  After removing my crampons, I quickly descended to tree line and out the drainage.  My round-trip time was 7.5 hours.
Hmmm...doesn't look like it's in any shape for scrambling! This is Mount Weed as seen from Bow Summit.
The bird must think it's tourist season already. A Clark's nutcracker perches on the side mirror of Sonny's car at Bow Summit parking lot.
Three weeks earlier, I was post-holing through snow on the ridge at far right. Sonny hikes up the rocky gully above the first rock band.
It doesn't get any easier or boring than this! Sonny easily hikes up an avalanche runout zone.
Anyone wanna scramble up Caldron Peak with me? The view to the south helps alleviate some of the monotony in the ascent.  At left is Peyto Lake.  The snowy peak on the horizon at far right is Mount Baker.
I'm still another hour and forty minutes from the summit. Sonny approaches the base of the final gully.
The upper slopes are much steeper than this foreshortened view would suggest. This is looking up the final gully.  The summit is at upper left.
Boy, am I glad I'm wearing crampons right now! This is looking back down the final gully.
Pick your line carefully here! The summit ridge sports some interesting cornices.  The summit cairn is visible at left.
Actually, at this point, it would have been safe to head right and climb up to the crest of the snow. Sonny takes the last few steps before the top.
Also visible are Bow Peak, Bow Lake and Bow Summit. This is the view to the southeast from the summit.  Mount Temple is visible slightly right of centre on the horizon.
And if you look really carefully, you might be able to spot a Yeti...carrying a case of Kokanee! Mount Noyes dominates the view to the north.  At left are the Waterfowl Lakes and Mount Sarbach.
Might be worth exploring someday... To the east are the multiple peaks of Mount Willingdon.
Hmmm...almost makes me wanna take up ski mountaineering... Here is a close-up view of Mount Baker.
Too bad it's so late.  I could have spent another hour up here! Sonny poses beside the cairn on the 3080-metre summit of Mount Weed.
Hmmm...that track's wider than I thought... This is looking back at one of the glissade tracks made by Sonny.
Just another beautiful peak in the Canadian Rockies. The summit block of Mount Patterson looks brilliant in the late day sun.
One of my favourite views along the Icefields Parkway. The sun disappears behind Mount Chephren in this view from Bow Summit.