Panorama Ridge Revisited
After a recent group trip up Panorama Ridge in Banff National Park, I felt I had some unfinished business left in not tagging the higher south summit.  On 11 July 2007, I left work early and drove to Moraine Lake for another go at Panorama Ridge.  This time, instead of fording the outlet stream, I circled the west and south sides of Lower Consolation Lake before climbing up a promising-looking gully which would put me just a bit north of the first obvious gendarme along the ridge between the two summits.  Although I had entertained thoughts of simply trudging up toward Taylor Pass and scree-bashing up to the south summit from there, I was curious about what Alan Kane meant by "You're on your own there" in his guidebook's description of the south end of Panorama Ridge.  Rock-hopping the boulder fields surrounding the lake was merely tedious, but climbing the gully was sheer hell for one reason--mosquitoes.  In my haste to get going earlier at the Moraine Lake parking lot, I had neglected to apply bug repellent on myself, and now I was being hounded relentlessly by the blood-sucking pests.  There was absolutely no breeze on this day, and I would find no respite from the mosquitoes for the remainder of the trip until I returned to the trail head.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally scrambled up to the ridge crest just north of the first gendarme.  Despite some exposure, I surmounted this obstacle without too much trouble, but what I saw from the top was not encouraging.  A series of pinnacles separated me from the south summit, and scrambling over each pinnacle would require some serious route-finding as well as significant gains and losses in elevation.  If it had been earlier in the day, I would have gladly tackled each pinnacle directly, but I was quickly running out of daylight and decided to bypass all the pinnacles by traversing below the ridge crest on the west side.  This in itself was no cakewalk either, but at least I could keep moving more steadily to stay one step ahead of the annoying mosquitoes.  The sun was disappearing behind Mount Temple as I stepped up to the cairn on the south summit.  Fourteen minutes later, I was on my way down the west slopes descending a mix of crappy scree and the odd snow patch.  Reaching Upper Consolation Lake, I had to bushwhack a bit along the east shore (not fun in the dark!) before finding a fairly good beaten path leading to the boulder field separating the two lakes.  Rock-hopping back around the west side of Lower Consolation Lake was trickier in the dark, but I eventually regained the access trail and made it back to the eerily quiet Moraine Lake parking lot (round-trip time of 7 hours).
Might have been quicker just to go straight to Taylor Pass and turn left! Sonny's approximate ascent route is shown in this view from Lower Consolation Lake.
The trees and rocks at the bottom look so innocuous from up here... This is looking down on Upper Consolation Lake from the lower slopes of Panorama Ridge.  Mount Fay is at upper left.
The scrambling is difficult but not insanely difficult! This is the first serious obstacle on the approach from the north end of Panorama Ridge.
A lot of loose rocks. Sonny works his way up to the base of the first gendarme.
If I had all day... From the top of the first gendarme, this is the view of the remaining pinnacles along the ridge.  The south summit is the high point at left.
Traversing below these walls is feasible but requires some route-finding. This wall typifies much of the terrain on the south end of Panorama Ridge.
This is the same summit cairn pictured on Dow Williams' website. This is the cairn on the south summit of Panorama Ridge.  Television Peak and Castle Mountain are visible in the distance.
Even up here the bloody mosquitoes were relentless! Sonny rests against the cairn on the 2824-metre south summit of Panorama Ridge.  The top of Mount Temple is just visible behind Sonny while the north summit of Panorama Ridge is at far right.  On the horizon behind the north summit is Mount Hector.
I seem to recall coming down in the dark as well on TV Peak! Protection Mountain and Television Peak lie to the northeast.
Yep.  Still yet another scramble trip where I was hiking out in the dark! To the east is Castle Mountain.
If you look closely, you can also spot Copper Mountain. The tops of Pilot Mountain and Mount Brett are illuminated by the last rays of sunshine for the day.
That was a good scramble last year with Bob Parr. Stanley Peak looks radiant at sunset.
I wonder how many people will summit Mount Ball this year... Mount Ball also looks radiant at sunset.
There were quite a few avalanches coming down the big cliff during the evening. Bident Mountain and Mount Quadra dominate the view to the southwest.
Okay, now for the hellish descent in the dark! The sun has set on another beautiful day in the Canadian Rockies.