Mount Howard Douglas
On 30 September 2017, I accompanied Anna Kowalska, Jim MacDonald, Marta Wojnarowska and Zosia Zgolak for an ascent of Mount Howard Douglas near Sunshine Village in Alberta's Banff National Park.  The scramble route is described in Andrew Nugara's More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies.

From the lower gondola station, we hiked up the Sunshine Village access road until we reached the base of Goat's Eye Mountain chairlift.  We left the main road here and followed another road which climbs up the lower slopes of Eagle Mountain.  Instead of continuing along the road up Eagle Mountain, we subsequently headed into the trees to the south and bushwhacked a bit before reaching the basin west of Mount Howard Douglas.  The rubble in this basin is miserably loose, and we tried our best to stick close to the steeper but more solid cliff bands to climber's right.  Even here, the rocks are horribly unreliable, and we had to be doubly careful about wherever we stepped or whatever holds we grabbed.

As we approached the scree ledge traverse described by Nugara, Marta led everyone else up a short cut through some cliffs while I stuck to treadmill rubble and circumvented the same cliffs to climber's left.  We reunited above the cliffs on Nugara's scree ledge, and from there, we groveled up more loose rubble to reach the south side of the summit block.  We finished the ascent by climbing up a short but tricky rock step just before the summit.  A snow squall greeted us when we reached the summit, and with no views to speak of, we had no reason to linger.  Just as we were about to leave though, the clouds suddenly cleared up, and we stuck around a bit longer to enjoy some far-reaching views.

On descent, we retraced our steps back down to the scree ledge taking extra care not to knock rocks down on each other.  Everyone traversed back to where I had initially gained the scree ledge, and from there, we took advantage of the loose rubble to quickly surf down to the bottom of the basin.  Back on easier ground, we took a short break before hiking out along the basin's drainage.  This eventually led us without too much trouble back to the base of Goat's Eye Mountain chairlift, and we finished the trip with an easy walk down the access road.
Bored yet? Zosia hikes up the Sunshine Village access road with Mount Bourgeau behind her.
This isn't the easiest route into the basin below Mount Howard Douglas, but it's hard to resist going up this way! Just past the base of Goat's Eye chairlift, the group heads up a rougher road which is the Sunshine Coast ski run in winter.
Contrary to what the photo shows, the bushwhacking was generally light.
Anna and Zosia endure some light bushwhacking as they make their way toward the basin below Mount Howard Douglas.
It's prime larch-viewing season! Jim picks his way across some boulders in a glade surrounded by larches.

Wanna see larches in solitude? Come here!

The group enters the basin west of Mount Howard Douglas.  At centre in the distance is Wawa Ridge.


This sucks. The group grinds its way up lots of loose rubble in the basin.
Still crappy rock, though! Zosia takes to some cliff bands which offer more solid footing.
The scree sucks, but it's worth being patient here before gaining the ledge. The scree ledge (hidden) described by Nugara is best accessed near the base of the big cliffs just right of centre.
Looks like fun, but it's not the best route for gaining the ledge... Marta leads Jim, Anna and Zosia up a short cut through the cliffs below the scree ledge.
I wonder if this outlier can be scrambled... Marta (far left) waits for the rest of the group to join her on the scree ledge.  The peak in the background is the western outlier of Mount Howard Douglas.
Jim must be getting sick and tired of all the loose rubble! The group takes varying lines up the rubble slope just below the summit block (out of view at top right).

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

A few more grunts and we're there! Zosia and Marta scramble up the south side of the summit block.
Harder than it looks; the rock is shite! Marta and Zosia clear the short rock step just below the summit.
Only minutes earlier, we could not see a thing through clouds and snow! Numerous ski runs can be seen in this panoramic view from the summit.
I don't think this is skiable terrain in winter... Here is another look at the western outlier of Mount Howard Douglas.
I would like to try and ski up Quartz Hill this winter... To the south is Howard Douglas Creek valley.  Sunshine Landing (GR882573) is the low-profile ridge just right of centre.  Also visible to the right are Quartz Hill and Quartz Ridge.

Guess who forgot their helmet...

Sonny, Marta, Jim, Anna and Zosia stand on the summit of Mount Howard Douglas (2872 metres).


Eva Bartipanova would like this hike! A sliver of Lake Minnewanka can barely be seen to the northeast.

Those two unnamed peaks at centre are just begging to be climbed!

The Sundance Range stretches across most of the eastern horizon.


I will ski Eagle Mountain this winter... Visible to the northwest are Black Brett, Mount Bourgeau and Eagle Mountain.
Not a place to dawdle as lots of loose rock funnel down here. Zosia carefully descends to the scree ledge which is just around the corner at bottom left.
Hey, I think it's clear enough to see the top of the Monarch in the distance! The group takes advantage of the loose rubble to quickly descend to the bottom of the basin.
Au revoir, Howard Douglas! Here is a look back at the basin below Mount Howard Douglas.
Too bad the patio wasn't open! The group returns to the base of Goat's Eye chairlift with Mount Bourgeau in the background.
Terrible scree slog, but summit views are well-worth the effort. Total Distance:  15.7 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 50 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1215 metres

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