Mount Coleman
When I was descending the south slopes of Mount Chephren in 1998, I saw some people near the base of the mountain and was surprised that they were coming up so late in the day.  When I got further down though, the people had vanished, and I wondered if my physical exhaustion was playing tricks with my mind.

Years later, a fellow by the name of Paul Russell contacted me when he came across my trip report for Mount Chephren on my website.  It turns out that he was one of the guys that I saw that day, and they retreated when I supposedly kicked rocks down on them!  My recollections of that day are now vague at best, but in good humour, I gave Paul the benefit of the doubt.  Paul actually bagged Mount Chephren in 1999 and has an impressive climbing resumé to his credit even though he is currently busy raising a young family in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Recently, Paul contacted me again, and strangely, his e-mail began, "Let me introduce myself, I'm Paul Russell."  I had to remind him about his reminding me of the rocks I kicked down on him on Mount Chephren.  Paul was coming out to Calgary, Alberta for the long weekend and was eager to do some scrambling.  On 30 July 2005, I picked up Paul from his in-laws' house at 4:00 AM, and we drove out to Banff National Park to bag Mount Coleman.  Despite arriving late the night before and getting only a few hours of sleep, Paul looked quite refreshed as we made good time up Sunset Pass Trail.  Before reaching Sunset Pass, we cut around Norman Lake and bushwhacked up a forested slope to intersect the "big gully" leading to the "high col" as described by Alan Kane.  Trudging up the big gully was wearisome, but a strong headwind made it doubly so.  After a short break at the high col, we continued up more scree until we reached the "shallow gully" below the summit ridge.  Some snow and ice still persisted in this gully making the scrambling much more 'interesting'.  The crux was dry on this day, and we had no further difficulties in reaching the summit.  Although the wind was brisk at the top, we remained there for about 40 minutes before beginning our descent.  Back at the crux, Paul couldn't resist tossing a rock down the steep north slope to the glacier below.  We both watched with some mild disappointment as the rock rolled to a stop well short of the glacier.  Much of our descent back to the high col was tedious and unremarkable though I did kick some rocks down on Paul just for old times' sake!  We glissaded a couple of snow patches before following the big gully most of the way down to Sunset Pass.  It took us a surprisingly long time to find Sunset Pass Trail again (which also entailed a difficult crossing of Norman Creek), but once we regained the trail, we easily cruised back to the trail head (round-trip time of 9 hours).

It was a real pleasure scrambling with such an amiable guy like Paul, and I look forward to the next time he comes calling from Saskatoon.  "Let me introduce myself..."
We never did get to see Pinto Lake (even from the summit of Mount Coleman). Paul encounters the first route-finding problem of the day!
Some bushwhacking required here. This is Mount Coleman as seen from the forested slopes just north of Norman Lake.  The key to the ascent is the high col at far left.
It's worth dropping into the big gully for a problem-free ascent.  Staying on the high bench at left may lead to some difficult slabs. This is a view of the gully leading up to the col.
It's a long slog to get up to the col. Paul gradually works his way up to the col.
A good place to toss around a football! Sonny reaches the high col.  Barely visible in the distance are Mount Chephren, White Pyramid and Mount Sarbach.
Photo Courtesy of Paul Russell
Ugh.  More scree bashing! From the high col, Paul heads up toward the snow patches.
Thankfully the summit ridge was mostly dry on this day. This is the summit ridge of Mount Coleman.  Paul is on top of a false summit.
I hope that's the true summit! Paul descends to a snowy gap separating the true summit from the false summit.
Mind the big drop-off on the left. Paul easily crosses the gap.
A little over 5 hours from car to summit. Sonny and Paul stand on the 3135-metre summit of Mount Coleman.
That's a great jacket for summit photos! This is looking northwest from the summit.  Nigel Peak is right above Paul's head.  Unfortunately, many of the big peaks around the Columbia Icefields are obscured by cloud cover.
That corniced ridge behind me didn't look too inviting! Glaciated Mount Wilson dominates the view to the southeast.  Norman Lake is at bottom right.
Photo Courtesy of Paul Russell
Lots of loose rocks on the descent. Paul works his way back down to the gap for the return trip.  The peak at right with snow draped all over it is Cirrus Mountain.
Let 'er rip, Paul! Just below the high col, this snow patch is ideal for glissading.
No somersaulting this time! Sonny follows close behind Paul.
Photo Courtesy of Paul Russell
We're bound to hit that trail at some point... Paul wanders the open expanse of Sunset Pass in search of the hiking trail.