Anklebiter Ridge And Bluemat Hill
Inspired by Vern Dewit's recent trip report, Asieh Ghodratabadi, Wendy Kadar (and her dog, Ruthie), So Nakagawa, Ali Shariat, Bob Spirko, Wil Tabak, Zosia Zgolak and I traversed over Anklebiter Ridge and Bluemat Hill near Exshaw, Alberta on 5 May 2018.  Starting from Grotto Mountain Pond parking lot on Highway 1A (10.8 kilometres west of the junction with Highway 1X or 10.7 kilometres east of the underpass below the Trans-Canada Highway near Canmore), we hiked very briefly along the trail to Grotto Canyon before turning right onto an obvious trail heading for Anklebiter Ridge.  Much of the ascent is nothing more than steep hiking, and the few sections of hands-on scrambling are easy and enjoyable.  On this day, we encountered some lingering snow patches higher up the ridge, but these were largely inconsequential.
Feels like a COC trip! Gathered at the trailhead are Wendy, Zosia, So, Wil, Asieh, Ali, Bob, and Wendy's dog, Ruthie.  Anklebiter Ridge is visible in the background.
Hardly any approach--just start climbing! It does not take long before the group starts climbing up Anklebiter Ridge.
It's like the Hillary Step!

The group reaches the first section that requires some hands-on scrambling.

C'mon, Wil! Quit draggin' your ass! As Wil climbs up Anklebiter Ridge, views open up to the south with Pigeon Mountain at centre.
Mount McGillivray actually looks pretty awesome from this angle--makes me wanna climb it now! To the southeast are Grotto Mountain Pond (bottom), Bow River, Lac Des Arcs, and Mount McGillivray (right).
Or in the case of Ruthie, "paws-on scrambling"! Wendy waits while Zosia, Ali and Ruthie climb up another section requiring hands-on scrambling.
I still haven't climbed Lougheed I, The Orphan, or Little Sister. As Wil climbs higher, more peaks are visible to the west including Mount Lougheed I, Windtower, Mount Nestor, Old Goat Mountain, Rimwall, The Orphan, and The Three Sisters.  Gap Lake is also visible at centre.
No problemo! The trees show a weakness in the cliff band ahead.
Just enough for a snowball fight! Higher up the ridge, the group tramps through some lingering snow patches.  The high point of Anklebiter Ridge is visible ahead.
Looks pretty straightforward from here! Here is a clearer view of the high point of Anklebiter Ridge.
Almost there! The group scrambles up the last few metres before the high point.
Great pose, So! The group successfully reaches the high point of Anklebiter Ridge (2138 metres).  In the front row are Wil, Ruthie, Ali and Asieh.  In the back row are Sonny, So, Wendy, Zosia and Bob.

I find it odd that Lac Des Arcs is so brownish compared to the Bow River...

Across Lac Des Arcs is Mount McGillivray (left of centre).  At right is Pigeon Mountain.


I have some work left on Mount Lougheed...

All four peaks of Mount Lougheed are now visible at left.


There once was a man from Nantucket... Zosia sips some tea while watching Bob sign the register on top of Anklebiter Ridge.
After taking an extended break on the high point of Anklebiter Ridge, we started down the east ridge toward Bluemat Hill.  A cliff band not far below the high point forced us to take a detour to skier's left and drop down a steep snow slope.  Fortunately, the snow was soft enough to kick steps in, and we managed to circumvent the cliff band and regain the ridge without too much difficulty.  As we continued down the ridge, we re-entered forest and had to do a little route-finding to avoid some steep slabs on the west side of Bluemat Hill.  We encountered some deep snow at the low point of the connecting ridge, but thankfully, the post-holing there was short-lived.

Bluemat Hill has two distinct summits of roughly equal height--one in thick forest and one where the trees have been deliberately chopped down to provide panoramic views.  Leaving nothing to chance, we tagged both summits and took another extended break at the one with views.
Anyone know where the name "Bluemat Hill" came from? Wil seems amused upon reaching the top of a hidden cliff band along the connecting ridge to Bluemat Hill (right).  Behind Bluemat Hill is the forested hump of Exshaw Mountain.
I still need to do the Gable Traverse one of these days... The group traverses north to circumvent the cliff band blocking their descent to Bluemat Hill.  Here is also a nice view of the connecting ridge to Gap Peak (left of centre).  At distant right is Mount Fable.
Ice axe not necessary! Ali and Sonny plunge-step down a steep snow slope near where the cliff band peters out.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Either way works, but I prefer not to gain elevation needlessly... Ali and Asieh follow the rest of the group across the slope while Wil (upper right) climbs directly back up to the ridge crest.
The traverse is a little trickier than it looks... So and Bob wait for the others to catch up to them on the traverse.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

And there's Zosia with her cute helmet! Here is a more comprehensive view of the cliff band blocking the east side of Anklebiter Ridge.  The cliff band can be circumvented at far right.
Bob is the King of the Castle! Bob perches on a rocky knob overlooking Lac Des Arcs and the Lafarge Exshaw Cement Plant (far left).
Back to the regular programming... Back on easier terrain, the group resumes their descent to Bluemat Hill.
Good route-finding skills help here! Zosia follows Asieh down the connecting ridge to Bluemat Hill which is visible ahead.  The route skirts to the left of the white cliffs.
Do you know where you're going, Wil? Wil trudges up the northwest slope of Bluemat Hill.
According to my GPS, this is the true summit. The group gathers on the forested summit of Bluemat Hill (1916 metres).
Wendy shows how to get her dog to look at the camera! The group poses again on the more scenic summit of Bluemat Hill (1915 metres).  Anklebiter Ridge is visible at upper left.

After cutting down all the trees here, why didn't they also build a zipline from here to Grotto Mountain Pond?

The view to the west from Bluemat Hill is about the same as that from the top of Anklebiter Ridge.


When we resumed hiking, we discovered some great scree surfing on the upper part of Bluemat Hill--a good reason not to try this loop hike in the opposite direction.  The scree eventually petered out, and shortly after, our group inadvertently split up with me, Wendy and Ruthie following Wil down a beaten path while the others headed somewhere to skier's right of us.  Our beaten path also eventually petered out, but fortunately, the terrain, though steep, was not too bushy and fairly easy to descend.  Wil, Wendy, Ruthie and I eventually crossed a power line right-of-way before thrashing the remaining short distance to Highway 1A.  Not long after we emerged from the trees, the rest of the group appeared right behind us, and together, we walked back along the highway to Grotto Mountain Pond to complete the loop.

Wendy invited all of us back to her place in Bragg Creek afterwards for celebratory drinks and dinner which put an exclamation point on an already fantastic day with some awesome friends.  Thank you, Wendy!

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report.
The Lafarge Exshaw Cement Plant looks like it's from out of this world! Zosia pauses briefly while descending the south ridge of Bluemat Hill.
Too bad this doesn't go all the way down to the highway! Sonny finds some great scree to surf on the way down.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Did the dog scree surf too? Asieh joins Ali, Wendy, Bob, So, Wil and Ruthie near the end of the scree run.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Back on easy street! After popping out of the trees about half a kilometre east of Grotto Mountain Pond, the group hikes back to the trailhead beside Highway 1A.
Good job, girls! Zosia, Ruthie and Wendy stop beside Grotto Mountain Pond with Anklebiter Ridge in the background.
Great scrambling with great people makes for a great trip! Total Distance: 7.2 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 6 hours 23 minutes
Net Elevation Gain to Anklebiter Ridge: 823 metres

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