Caldron Peak
Dinah Kruze and Bob Spirko invited me on 7 August 2010 for an ascent of Caldron Peak in Alberta’s Banff National Park.  Although I had previously hiked to Caldron Lake, I had not ascended any peaks in the vicinity and was eager to do so after reading several trip reports posted on the Internet by fellow scramblers.  The weather did not look promising as we drove out that morning, and delays both on the highway and at Laggan’s made the drive seem like an epic in itself.  We considered choosing a less demanding trip such as hiking to Bow Glacier Falls, but as we drove by Bow Lake, some sunny breaks teased us into thinking that the weather might improve.  Therefore, we continued driving to the Bow Summit parking lot to take a look at Caldron Peak from Peyto Lake lookout.  Although the sky was generally overcast, the summit of Caldron Peak was visible from the lookout, and after the long drive, we were simply eager to begin hiking regardless of the weather.  We quickly left the crowd of tourists behind us as we descended the trail to the gravel flats west of Peyto Lake.  While it felt nice to walk downhill right off the bat, I was already dreading the thought of climbing back up to the lookout at the end of the day.

The trip to Caldron Lake was uneventful, but as we hiked over the undulating terrain toward Caldron Peak, a heavy rain began falling.  After all the effort of hiking across the gravel flats, over a low ridge, along Peyto Creek, up the moraine, under the east face of Peyto Peak, and down to the lake, I was anguished by the thought of having to turn back, but the miserable weather was even harder to bear.  After a short debate, we decided to turn around, but as we headed back toward Caldron Lake, we hunkered down beside a giant wall of snow that was reminiscent of a glacier.  Though it did little to keep us from getting soaked, the wall at least sheltered us from the bitter wind.  The rain turned out to be short-lived, and we were once again teased by sunny breaks to resume our ascent.  When we crested the ridge coming off of Caldron Peak's false summit, it was disheartening to see that we still had some elevation to lose before commencing an ungodly long scree slog of over 400 vertical metres.  Without further ado, we dropped partway down into the bowl west of Caldron Peak and began churning our way up the treadmill scree.  Rain began falling again when we were partway up the final slope, but by this point, there was really no turning back, at least not in my mind.  Six hours after leaving the parking lot, we stood beside the summit cairn of Caldron Peak.  Although the rain had tapered off again, Dinah and Bob began descending after spending less than 15 minutes on the summit while I stayed for another 15 minutes to sign the register and take photographs.

Wet and shivering from the chilly wind, I eventually followed Dinah and Bob down the mountain.  We made the mistake of trying to contour around the edge of the bowl to avoid having to re-climb the aforementioned ridge, but stumbling across ankle-breaking rubble and the occasional steep snow patch was both time-consuming and downright aggravating.  After regrouping just beyond the ridge, we enjoyed a pleasant hike back to Caldron Lake and took a short break there before rain prompted us to get moving again.  The rain made our footing slick, and we had to be especially careful while descending the moraine and scrambling over the smooth rocks alongside Peyto Creek.  Otherwise, our hike back to the parking lot was uneventful though Dinah and I both felt like throwing up after climbing nearly 300 vertical metres to Peyto Lake lookout at the end of the day.

Be sure to check out Bob's movie and trip report here.
Ice axes always impress the tourists! Dinah and Bob mingle with the tourists at Peyto Lake lookout.  Caldron Peak dominates the backdrop.
Maybe next time I'll take a dinghy across the lake... Bob hikes across the gravel flats west of Peyto Lake.  Behind him on the right skyline is Observation Peak.
Even when it's cloudy, there's much to see here. Much of the route to Caldron Lake--alongside Peyto Creek on the left, up the moraine at centre and under the east face of Peyto Peak at right--can be seen here.
This was the crux of the day for Dinah! Dinah carefully crosses the bridge over Peyto Creek.
The wires are kinda annoying and superfluous. Bob gets a carabiner caught on a wire supporting the bridge.
It's almost like a moonscape here. Mount Thompson and its namesake glacier provide a dramatic background as Bob climbs up the moraine.
I had forgotten what a long haul it was even to get to Caldron Lake. Bob and Dinah work their way toward the traverse (far right) below the east face of Peyto Peak.
I think the glacier looks smaller than when I was last here. This is Peyto Glacier as seen from the moraine.  A weather station is visible at bottom left.
The true summit of Caldron Peak isn't even visible yet! Dinah and Bob traverse below the east face of Peyto Peak.  Caldron Peak is at right while Mount Patterson is partly visible at distant left.
Fording the outlet was trickier on the way back because of turbulent water. Dinah admires Caldron Lake near its outlet.  Mistaya Mountain is directly ahead.
Great place to be on a sunny day.  Not so much when it rains... Dinah and Bob continue hiking toward Caldron Peak.
Definitely the low point of the day. Dinah and Bob try to take shelter from the wind and rain beside the snow wall.
This is probably the remnants of a "permanent" snow patch. This cleft in the snow wall is remarkably similar to a glacial crevasse.
Ugh. Dinah trudges up scree in the rain.
This definitely perked me up after the long scree slog. Dinah and Bob ascend the summit ridge.
I can't believe we made it!! Bob, Dinah and Sonny stand on the 2910-metre summit of Caldron Peak.
There is also a newer booklet in the register canister. This is the original register left by the legendary Don Forest.
Didn't see the summit all day. The top of Mount Patterson is shrouded in cloud to the northwest.
Look! There's even a small patch of blue sky at top left!! The view to the west is dominated by Mistaya Mountain (left), Barbette Mountain (right of centre), and the Delta Glacier.
Kane's scramble route looks pretty snow-free. Mount Weed is visible to the north.
That's a cool-looking glacier! To the south is Mount Thompson.
An easy scramble from Bow Lake, I think. Southeast of Caldron Peak is Mount Jimmy Simpson.
In lousy weather, it's very uplifting to see a rainbow. A rainbow appears over Peyto Lake to the east.  Observation Peak is at left.
Also at centre is the false summit of Caldron Peak. Here is a more comprehensive view to the south.  Landmarks include Mount Thompson (left), Peyto Glacier (centre), Peyto Peak (right of centre), and Caldron Lake.
The lake is remarkably beautiful regardless of the weather. Here is a closer look at Caldron Lake.
This would be the last of the 'nice' weather for the day... Mount Thompson provides a beautiful backdrop as Dinah and Bob descend to Caldron Lake (not visible here).
Google Earth doesn't do justice to all the ups and downs required on this trip. This is the route as viewed in Google Earth. 
The net elevation gain is only 807 metres... Total Distance:  21.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  10 hours 49 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  1575 metres

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