Hailstone Butte
Taking advantage of some gorgeous weather, longer daylight hours, and a flexible work schedule, I drove out to the south end of Alberta's Kananaskis Country on the afternoon of 17 April 2013 to climb up Hailstone Butte.  Due to some recent storms, there was still an abundance of snow in this area, and I had some doubts about how far I could drive up Secondary Road 532 toward the Hump (the road's high point and trailhead for Hailstone Butte) let alone hike the off-trail route.  Fortunately, a couple of graders had plowed the road earlier in the day, and I only had to contend with some muddy ruts on my way to the Hump.  The summer route starts from the Hump and follows a draw to a col below the east face of Hailstone Butte, but because of the abundant snow, I tried to stay high on a ridge to the east.  Snow depth varied from ankle-deep to waist-deep, and on numerous occasions, I was lamenting not bringing skis or snowshoes.  My progress was slow but steady, and I eventually reached the col before continuing up steeper terrain to climber's left of the prominent cliffs just below the summit.  The crux of the trip was getting through the hard, over-hanging cornice guarding the ridge crest.  Without an ice axe or crampons, I had a lot of difficulty getting good enough purchase and footing to propel myself over the cornice, and spindrift blowing off the ridge directly into my face complicated matters as well.  After several minutes of fruitless effort, I finally took my glasses off and plunged both my hiking poles as deeply as they would go into the top of the cornice.  Using the poles for leverage, I finally succeeded in pulling myself up and over, but the move was so awkward that I had to use my face as a point of contact!  From where I topped out on the ridge, the summit was not far off, but I still had quite a bit of post-holing to do to get there.  One patch of snow was so deep and unsupportive that I resorted to rolling on my back and stomach to move forward.

I stayed at the summit for only 10 minutes before turning around and beginning my descent.  Dropping over the edge of the cornice was a lot easier than having to climb up, and I was soon out of the wind and retracing my footprints.  With the setting sun disappearing behind Hailstone Butte, the snow turned crusty and banged against my shins and calves with every step making the return journey almost as aggravating as the climb up.  I eventually made it back to my car none the worse for wear after a round-trip time of 3 hours and 19 minutes.
The dirt does a nice job of hiding all the rust! Sonny's dirty car is parked in a recently-plowed clearing at the Hump.
Wish I had skis...or even snowshoes! The east face of Hailstone Butte looks formidable from this vantage point.
I'm awfully tempted to come back and ski this! Sonny's route up the east face is shown.
I have fond memories of climbing all three of these peaks. To the southeast are (L to R) Saddle Mountain, Windy Peak and Mount Livingstone.
Environmentally-friendly Christmas decorations! Icicles hang in abundance below the branches.
I think I can see my office! The skyscrapers of downtown Calgary are barely visible on the horizon is this view from the col below the east face of Hailstone Butte.
The slope doesn't look quite so daunting here, but it's still pretty steep! The top of Hailstone Butte is partially guarded on the east side by rocky cliffs.
Yep, still winter here! Spindrift blows off the south ridge of Hailstone Butte.
There was still some tough slogging through very deep snow between here and the buildings. The lookout building is not too far from where Sonny tops out.
Hello? Anybody home?? The lookout building sits on the 2363-metre summit of Hailstone Butte.
Many people include Sentinel Peak as an extension to the hike up Hailstone Butte (not me!). Plateau Mountain, Mount Burke and Sentinel Peak are visible to the north.
Maybe I'll come back and hike the south ridge when there is a lot less snow... In the distance to the right of Hailstone Butte's south ridge is Isola Peak.
Not a bad way to end the day! Sonny takes some shelter from the wind on the upper deck of the lookout building.