Mount Inflexible
Mount Inflexible in Kananaskis Country is described as an unpopular extension to the trip up Mount Lawson in Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies.  I found out just how unpopular it was on 16 September 2008.  Casually rolling out of Calgary relatively late, I had not recently re-read Kane's brief route description for Mount Inflexible and perhaps took this peak just a little too lightly.  I left my car at 10:59 AM and proceeded across the Kananaskis River along the access road for Fortress Mountain ski resort (now closed) before heading off into the trees at the first switchback.  Nine years after my previous visit here, the bushwhacking was sadly just as tedious and confusing as before.  Nonetheless, I eventually muddled my way up to the open rubble slopes below the connecting ridge between Mounts Lawson and Inflexible.  As I neared the ridge, I veered as much as I could over to climber's right in hopes of saving myself a little distance.  It was 3:35 PM when I topped out near the high point of the connecting ridge, and I was a little surprised that it had taken me so long to get that far.  More disheartening was seeing how much hard-won elevation I had to lose and then regain to get to Mount Inflexible.  Without further ado, I began descending to the low point of the ridge, and soon after, I encountered the first of many tricky cliff bands I would have to down-climb or circumvent.  Beyond the low point of the ridge, I had to contend with lots of slippery slabs and negotiate more cliff bands.  My progress was painfully slow, and I was acutely aware of how little daylight I had left when I eventually staggered up to the south summit of Mount Inflexible at 6:05 PM.  My relief at finding a summit register here was short-lived as I glanced over to the north summit which looked slightly higher.  I spent a few minutes leafing through the interesting register and signing it before heading over to the north summit.  Getting there would not be easy though.  The intervening ridge was every bit as challenging as what I had encountered earlier, and by this point, I was already mentally frazzled by the prospect of retracing my steps in the dark.  With a lot of will and effort, I made it to the north summit by 7:10 PM.

As I sat on the north summit watching the sun dip lower and lower on the horizon, I contemplated several alternate exits.  A descent west into the James Walker Creek valley was very appealing because I knew there would be a good trail out to the Smith-Dorrien highway (if I had to climb Mount Inflexible again, this would be the approach I would use).  However, this would have left me far from my car with almost no chance of hitching a ride late on a weeknight.  I also considered a descent south into the pristine Kent Creek valley, but then I would have to hike or bushwhack for at least 8 kilometres mostly through unknown forest before reaching the Smith-Dorrien highway.  Again, that would leave me far from my car.  I even thought about trying to descend the east face of Mount Inflexible, but a quick glance over the edge confirmed that this option would have been suicidal.  In the end, I deemed it best to simply retrace my steps all the way back.  The sun disappeared shortly after I bypassed the south summit on my return, and I hurried to down-climb as many cliff bands as I could before darkness completely enveloped the mountain.  Despite my apparent predicament of being benighted on the connecting ridge, I had a couple of things in my favour.  Firstly, the weather was clear and calm.  Although I was equipped to spend the night on the mountain, the near-full moon and my small headlamp provided enough illumination to continue moving.  Secondly, because I was retracing my steps, I knew the route.  I essentially stuck to the ridge crest all the way back to the high point, and scrambling up all the tricky cliff bands was a lot easier than down-climbing them.  Naturally, I was weary and fatigued, and every once in awhile, I would find a spot to sit down and take a short nap.  It was about 10:30 PM by the time I returned to the high point of the connecting ridge.  I continued a little further toward Mount Lawson before dropping down Kane's standard route.  Descending this section was far from trivial, and it took me an exasperatingly long time to stumble down to tree line.  Tired of rubble, I took to bushwhacking through the forest, and the mossy ground was a great relief to my beleaguered feet.  Although a GPS would have greatly simplified things, I navigated by staying within earshot of the creek flowing down Kane's "first drainage".  I eventually reached the Kananaskis River and found the access road shortly after.  Back at my car by 2:55 AM, I drove to the nearby gas station to pick up a couple of cans of pop from a vending machine and promptly put this 16-hour epic behind me.
Hard to believe that 8 hours later I was tempted to descend this face! This is Mount Inflexible as seen from near Fortress Junction.
The scrambling is definitely steeper and more difficult to climber's right. Sonny's approximate ascent route (red) to gain the connecting ridge between Mounts Lawson and Inflexible is shown.  His descent route (green) is also shown.
And now... No. 3  The Larch Some larches have already turned colour.
And lowly Grizzly Peak is also visible! The Opal Range looks impressive across the valley.  L to R are Mounts Evan-Thomas, Packenham, Hood, Brock, and Blane.
The route on Bogart looks to be in better shape than the one on Sparrowhawk. Mount Sparrowhawk (far left) and Mount Bogart are visible to the north.
Wonder what's happening at the base area these days... Mount Kidd South Peak and Mount Kidd are also visible to the north.  In the foreground is the base area of the old Fortress Mountain ski resort.
This same slope would be hell on my descent in the dark. Mount Inflexible provides a nice backdrop for Sonny's slog up the slope.
Lotsa nasty surprises on that ridge! Here is the ridge leading to Mount Inflexible.  Mount Assiniboine is visible at far left in the distance.
And Lunette is somewhere in there too! Here is a closer look at Mount Assiniboine.
It's tough enough traversing the ridge in daylight... Sonny traverses the connecting ridge between Mounts Lawson and Inflexible.  The high point of the ridge is the second bump from the right.
Thankfully, they were easier to climb up on my return trip in the dark. This cliff band is typical of the many encountered along the ridge between Mounts Lawson and Inflexible.  Most can be down-climbed (difficult scrambling).
Pick your poison, I guess! The alternative is to drop almost all the way down into the valley before climbing back up treadmill scree.
Wouldn't want to try this in wet or snowy conditions. Sonny cautiously treads across one of many tilted slabs en route to Mount Inflexible.
Lots of tricky route-finding and sidehill bashing ahead! Here is the remainder of the ridge to the south summit which is still a long ways off.
I believe that's Eon Mountain through the hole. This natural hole in the ridge is about a metre wide.
Sigh.  I'm getting sick and tired of all these cliff bands. This is the last cliff band guarding the south summit.
Think that's an easy traverse to the north summit?  Think again. In this view from the south summit of Mount Inflexible, the north summit appears to be slightly higher.
Interesting register.  Definitely not a lot of visitors to this peak. Sonny holds up the "summit" register at the south summit.
So far, so good... This is looking back at the south summit from the connecting ridge to the north summit.
A very tricky down-climb at this spot almost made me give up here. Here is a closer look at the north summit.
There was no cairn here, so I built a small one before leaving. Sonny sits on the 3000-metre north summit of Mount Inflexible.  The south summit can be seen at right.  Sonny's face says it all about this mountain.
That one looks like a long day too. Mount James Walker dominates the view to the north.
Besides Eon Mountain and Mount Assiniboine, you should also be able to pick out Mount Smuts and Mount Shark. Some peaks to the west are silhouetted against the late day sky.
More bushwhacking fun! A few last rays of sunshine illuminate the top of "Spoon Needle".
Those are much more fun to do than Inflexible! The Wedge and, in the distance, Fisher Peak look radiant late in the day.
Anybody willing to drag me up there with them? Mount Joffre dominates the horizon to the south.
Bob Parr and others have climbed Inflexible via this difficult ridge. This is the connecting ridge between Mount Inflexible and the high point of Kent Ridge.
And this is where my adventure really begins... The sun sets on another beautiful day in the Canadian Rockies.  The big peak in the foreground is Mount Birdwood.