Coliseum Mountain East Summit
After a restful night's sleep at Shunda Creek Hostel near Nordegg, Alberta, I was woken by Zosia Zgolak on the morning of 23 May 2016.  She was chatting with another guest in the dining hall on the main floor, but I could still recognize her distinct voice in my bunk upstairs.  A quick look out the window revealed that it was raining steadily outside.  I had doubts about Zosia's plan to hike up nearby Coliseum Mountain on this day, but I got out of bed anyway to go make myself breakfast.  Jamshaid Mohebzada, Leslie Pryslak and Marta Wojnarowska eventually joined Zosia and me in the dining hall, and by the time we were all finished breakfast, the rain had stopped falling.  While our other companion, Grace Cantle, decided to relax for the day at the hostel, the rest of us headed to the Coliseum Mountain trailhead which is a short drive from the hostel.  Fresh snow covered the trail right from the start, but much of it was melting quickly at lower elevations.  As we climbed higher though, the snow became much deeper, and everyone except for me did a remarkable job of breaking trail up to tree line.  When we arrived at a plateau above tree line, I was dismayed to learn that the gazetted east summit is not the true high point of Coliseum Mountain.  The connecting ridge to the higher west summit was snow-bound on this day, and after the exhausting effort to reach the east summit, none of us, with perhaps the exception of Zosia, were in much of a mood for another couple of hours of post-holing through deep snow.  After taking a short break out of the wind at the start of the connecting ridge, we returned to the east summit briefly before descending the mountain.  On our way down, I was surprised to see a few other intrepid hikers who were taking advantage of the trail that we had broken although I am uncertain if any of them had planned to go all the way to the west summit.  After an uneventful descent, we picked up Grace from the hostel and drove into Nordegg for a quick bite at Miners Cafe before heading home.  This was a nice way to cap off a challenging but fun long weekend in David Thompson Country, and a big "thank you" goes out to Zosia for organizing this trip and booking our accommodations at the hostel.
And everything is to scale too! Here is Zosia's high resolution map of the approach to Coliseum Mountain.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

It's a shame that the hot tub is gone though! Shunda Creek Hostel is one of the more luxurious of its kind.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Okay, maybe only Leslie and Zosia are pumped up... Jamshaid, Leslie, Zosia and Marta get pumped up for the hike.
Yikes. I thought we were done with winter... There is a lot of fresh snow on the trail.
What trail?! A short cliff breaks up the monotony of the forested trail.
The bluish tinge is because I forgot to change back the ISO setting on my camera from the night before! The trees begin to thin out as Jamshaid and the rest climb upward.
I'm not sure why this is the gazetted summit of Coliseum Mountain when it's not the true high point. Zosia approaches the east summit of Coliseum Mountain.
At least this summit isn't shrouded in clouds! Sonny stands on the east summit of Coliseum Mountain (2015 metres).  The higher west summit is obscured by clouds behind him.
Sorry, Zosia. We will come back for the west summit when there is less snow! After taking a quick break at the start of the connecting ridge to the west summit, the group decides to head back to the east summit.
Yay...we're scrambling! The group scrambles up a cliff band guarding the east summit plateau.
It's not about summits; it's about the people you spend time with in the mountains! Returning to pose on the east summit are Leslie, Sonny, Jamshaid, Marta and Zosia.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Now I have another reason to return to the Shunda Creek Hostel! The clouds clear to reveal the connecting ridge and the west (true) summit of Coliseum Mountain.  Also visible behind the west summit is Shunda Mountain.

Don't know if the views would have been any better today on the west summit anyway...

The group takes a last look at the panoramic views before leaving the east summit.  Visible in the distance at right is Abraham Lake.


Just need some Christmas lights! Fresh snow is plastered on these trees near the east summit.
I'll be back! Total Distance:  10.1 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 2 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  638 metres

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