A lengthy drive had us at the Tangle Falls trail head a little after 10:00 AM, and we backtracked a bit on the highway to survey the scramble route. Despite the upper mountain being plastered with snow, the snow pack looked shallow and unthreatening. We returned to the trail head and geared up. The trail to Wilcox Pass was packed down and easy to hike. At the turnoff, we crossed Tangle Creek and broke trail through ankle-deep snow while following a series of cairns up the forested slope. Once we broke out of the trees, the remainder of the ascent was simply a long but easy slog up gentle, snow-covered slopes. Although it probably was not absolutely necessary, we donned our crampons at one point to give us better traction on some of the windblown sections of snow. When Linda and I finally reached the summit, an icy wind chilled us to the bone, and we only stayed long enough to snap a few requisite photographs. The sun rapidly disappeared as we descended the same route, but aside from the usual stumbling in the dark forest (Linda actually snapped a tree branch with one of her eyes), we encountered no serious problems on our way back to the trail head (round-trip time under 8 hours).
On the drive home, I decided to return to the Shell gas station in Banff to refuel my car. At the outskirts of town, we were briefly held up by a police check-stop, and just as we were allowed through, lights began flashing at a railroad crossing only a short distance down the road. I probably could have zipped past the descending barricades, but with police nearby, I thought better of it and stopped my car much to the chagrin of Linda and her hungry stomach. Thankfully, the train was not overly long, and we were soon at the gas station where Linda washed my car's headlights and windshield before treating herself to a bag of potato chips. After gassing up my car, we drove to the nearby town of Canmore in search of fast food restaurants that were still open. We ended up getting some delicious burgers from A&W but not before being held up again at another railroad crossing by the same train!
Thus ended my most successful year of peak-bagging to date. Here's hoping 2006 will be even better!
Be sure to check out Linda's trip report here.
|Tangle Falls is frozen on this day but still looks impressive.|
|The views begin to open up on the forested slope. Mount Wilcox dominates the background.|
|Despite the cloud cover, the view to the south is haunting. The big peak at right is Mount Kitchener.|
|Above tree line, some interesting cliffs break up the monotony of the upper slopes.|
|Linda climbs past the last few scrubby bushes.|
|Looking southeast, Nigel Peak is shrouded in clouds at top centre while Mount Wilcox is visible at upper right.|
|Linda climbs up a seemingly never-ending slope.|
|This is the repeater station at the summit of Tangle Ridge.|
|To the north is Sunwapta Peak.|
|Linda arrives at the summit.|
|Sonny and Linda stand atop the 3000-metre summit of Tangle Ridge.|
|Linda begins to head down as twilight descends upon the Canadian Rockies.|