Hawk Mountain
After Kelly Wood and I hooked up with Kelly's brother, Chris Wood, the previous night in Jasper, Alberta, we all set off on 4 June 2005 to bag nearby Hawk Mountain.  On the way in, we somehow missed the good trail heading upward from the historic Overlanders Route and had to bushwhack through a mess of fallen timber to get back on track.  When we finally reached the crux chimney, Chris opted to ascend the exposed ledges to the right.  Kelly attempted to follow Chris, but feeling uncomfortable with the exposure, she backed off and decided to turn around for the day.  I tried the chimney and barely made it up on a few small friction holds.  Above the chimney, Chris and I scrambled up more steep and rocky terrain until we eventually gained the crest of the northwest ridge.  Other than the overall length of the remainder of the route, we had no further difficulties as we ascended interestingly varied terrain en route to the summit.
A nice spot for a picnic! Chris and Kelly check out one of the popular rock climbing spots near the trail head.  The Palisade dominates the view across the Athabaska River.
The good trail comes in from the left.  The bad or non-existent trail (the one we took) comes in from the right! The scramble route for the lower half of Hawk Mountain is shown.  The letter C marks the location of the chimney.
Pick your poison. Kelly waits as Chris surveys the ledges to the right of the chimney.
Much easier than the chimney. Chris and Kelly begin ascending the airy ledges.  Kelly would turn around here.
Not a lot of room for variations or wandering off-route... Chris ascends the steep terrain above the crux chimney.
Lots of work left. Hawk Mountain's summit is still a long ways off from this vantage point.
There's usually a pretty good beaten path to follow up the ridge. Along the ridge, there are numerous false summits such as this one.
It's much easier than it looks! This is the main summit block of Hawk Mountain.
If you like slabs, go left; if you like rubble or snow, go right. This section provides the most enjoyable scrambling of the day with lots of possible route variations.
Good scrambling fun. Chris works his way up the slabs.  The Athabaska River is visible far below.
Good job, Chris! Chris takes the last few steps to the summit.
Click here to see the "Kane Trooper"! Sonny and Chris stand on the 2553-metre summit of Hawk Mountain.
Looks like another long day! This is Pyramid Mountain as seen from Hawk Mountain's summit.
Weather conditions on the summit were very pleasant on this day. Chris tries to suck the residual moisture from the register canister as he begins to run low on water.
Looks interesting... The striking peak to the northwest is Roche de Smet.
Mount Colin This is Mount Colin with the connecting ridge from Hawk Mountain visible in the foreground.  The Mount Colin Centennial Hut is somewhere in that patch of trees at lower right.
After spending about half an hour at the summit, we began our long descent back down the ridge.  With numerous flagging and cairns along the route, we had no trouble retracing our steps.  We took a short rest break at the cairn just before the route drops down the west face from the ridge.  As mentioned already, the terrain here is steep with not a lot of room to manoeuvre.  A few minutes after we began descending this section, Chris turned a corner and suddenly stopped dead in his tracks.  I was a few steps behind him and heard him make an exclamation of surprise.  Then I heard a growl coming from somewhere below us.  Chris instantly turned around and started running back up the trail, and a split second later, I saw a big, black and brown bear snorting loudly and charging toward us at an alarming speed!  My first instinct was to run like hell back up the way we came, but as I began doing so, I quickly glanced over and saw that Chris had run off into the trees near the corner and the bear was now closing in on me.  I had no hope of outrunning the bear, so I immediately ducked behind the closest tree.  My only thought was to keep the tree between the bear and myself, and as the bear came around the upslope side of the tree, I grabbed some branches and swung around the down-slope side.  Instead of chasing me around the tree though, the bear kept running up the trail and soon disappeared from sight.  The whole encounter probably lasted only 10 or 15 seconds.  After uttering a few expletives, I heard Chris call out to me, and I quickly stumbled over to where he had run off the trail.  Uncertain of the bear's whereabouts, we took a few minutes to collect ourselves before we cautiously ventured back onto the trail to continue our descent.

At the crux chimney, we easily descended the exposed ledges that Chris had ascended earlier in the day and followed a good trail out to the Overlanders Route.  Kelly was getting a little anxious by the time we rejoined her not far from the trail head.  Our round-trip time ended up being just a little under 10 hours.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff? Three mountain goats pose for a photograph near the summit.
Should be an easy descent, right? In this view from the upper ridge, the top of Morro Peak is barely visible at lower left.
This photo was taken right after the bear encounter. The distant clouds clear briefly to reveal Mount Edith Cavell.
Click here to see a re-enactment of the bear encounter! Moments after the bear encounter, Chris sits down on the steep slope to try and catch his breath and calm his nerves.  This is roughly at the spot labelled with the letter B in the earlier route photo.
A bit anticlimactic after running into a bear! Chris descends the ledges beside the crux chimney.
Another epic adventure! Here is another look at Hawk Mountain from below.
The following day, we reported the bear encounter to a warden at the Jasper Information Centre.  I am still not certain if it was a grizzly or black bear, but I do remember that its coat was black with some brown fringes and that it looked frighteningly big.  After much discussion, we concluded that the bear must have wandered down the scrambles route from the ridge above some time after Chris and I had passed through on our way up the peak (we didn't notice any diggings or fresh scat at anytime).  When we surprised the bear, its instinct was probably to escape, but because of the steep terrain, its only escape route was up the trail that Chris and I were descending.  In light of the killing of a woman by a grizzly bear in Canmore that same weekend, I feel very fortunate that nothing more serious or tragic resulted from our chance encounter.