Rummel Ridge
Hoping to burn off some accumulated Christmas calories, Zosia Zgolak and I headed out to Spray Valley Provincial Park in Alberta's Kananaskis Country on 26 December 2018 to climb Rummel Ridge.  Although most people snowshoe this ridge in winter, we were inspired by Vern Dewit's trip report to try it on AT skis.  We began our trip at an unmarked trailhead on the east side of the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail (Highway 742) about 1.4 kilometres north of the junction with Mount Shark Road.  Armed with Dewit's GPS track, we followed a broken trail through a short, preliminary flat section before grinding up a steep fire break on the north side of an obvious creek (northern tributary of Rummel Creek).  Although there was adequate snow coverage for skinning up, there were still a lot of bushes sticking out of the snow, and numerous downed logs in the trees made skiing outside of the fire break potentially hazardous.  Already, I was having reservations about skiing back down the same way.
Boy, can't wait to ski back down this!! Zosia climbs up the fire break.  Note all the bushes protruding from the snow and the downed logs in the adjacent trees.
A good place to contemplate whether its worth continuing with skis! A bench about 125 metres above the highway makes for a good rest stop.
Need a couple more big dumps of snow here! Sonny continues to climb up the fire break.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Even with Dewit's GPS track, Zosia and I still had some issues when it came time to leave the fire break and cross over to the south side of the creek.  We inadvertently followed what looked like some skiers' down track and ended up in a narrow gully that was a potentially hazardous terrain trap.  Thankfully, the steep snow slopes along the gully were stable and did not slide while we moved through as quickly as we could.  I felt a measure of relief when we were finally able to climb out of the gully and pick up the normal snowshoers' track going up the ridge.  We had no further difficulties climbing up to the panoramic high point, but the tightness of the trees through which the track ran once again gave me pause about how we would ski back down.
We're off-track here! Zosia descends into a gully shortly after leaving the fire break.
Going up this way is not recommended! Following some skiers' down tracks, Zosia climbs up the gully which is a potentially hazardous terrain trap.
Zosia makes it look easy. Zosia boot-packs up a steep section in the gully.
Looks like fun, doesn't it? Sonny struggles a bit on the same steep section.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Still a lot of climbing left, but you can put your route-finding on cruise control here. Zosia picks up the snowshoers' track on her way up the ridge.
Finally some views! Sonny emerges from the forest with Spray Lakes Reservoir visible in the distance.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

And the sun is coming out--what perfect timing! Zosia climbs past the last trees before the top of Rummel Ridge.

It's so nice when the sun is shining!

Sonny and Zosia stand on the high point of Rummel Ridge (2465 metres).


Maybe on skis? Little Galatea to the southeast is a worthy objective for another day.
We almost didn't realize that Rummel Lake was there! To the east, the top of Mount Galatea (far left) is shrouded in clouds.  At the bottom of the cirque, Rummel Lake is not as noticeable in winter. old nemesis! The west ridge of The Tower looks rather inviting, but this is not the way to get to the summit.
I have fond memories of that scramble with Antri Zhu and Linda Breton! The top of Mount Engadine is also shrouded in clouds to the north.
Seems like a lifetime ago when I visited all these peaks... Clouds also obscure the tops of Mount Smuts and Mount Shark to the west, but The Fist and Tent Ridge are clearly visible.
From the top, there are some alternate routes for skiing down, but given the "Considerable" avalanche hazard forecast that day, Zosia and I decided that returning the way we came would be the safest option.  As it turned out, skiing down alongside the snowshoe track was quite challenging as we tried to weave between trees through seemingly impassable gaps.  Fortunately, the snow conditions were much better on the ridge than lower down, and skiing through the thick forest turned out to be surprisingly fun.

We eventually made our way down to the creek none the worse for wear and put our skins back on to climb out and regain the fire break.  We took the skins off again once we were certain that it would be downhill the rest of the way back.  As I had feared, the ski down the fire break was not pretty as we muddled our way through choppy snow and protruding bushes.  A few spills were inevitable, at least for me.  Somehow, we both managed to get down without any serious injuries, but at the end, we both agreed that, in winter, Rummel Ridge is probably best left to snowshoers.
Meet you at the bottom! LOL! Zosia begins skiing down from the high point.
Probably not the best way to ski down, but it is the safest route. Zosia follows the snowshoers' track back down the ridge.
Let the fun begin! The trees close in quickly as Zosia descends the ridge.
Is this still skiable? Zosia squeezes through an almost non-existent gap between the trees.
We don't need no stinkin' snowshoes! Sonny descends awkwardly just before the creek crossing.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

And doing quite well from the looks of it! Eschewing the fire break, Zosia takes her chances skiing in the adjacent trees.
I would recommend snowshoes for this one, but hardcore skiers might enjoy the challenge! Total Distance:  ~6.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 9 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  652 metres

GPX Data