Coffin Mountain, Sheep Mountain And Horseshoe Ridge
On 15 May 2010, I accompanied Wietse Bylsma and Vern Dewit to the Livingstone area of southwest Alberta with intentions of climbing up Sheep Mountain and Horseshoe Ridge.  Although I was still recovering from rib fractures suffered over a month before, I was eager to get out to the hills again after a lengthy absence, and this sounded like a short and easy trip.  After turning east off of Forestry Trunk Road 940 just north of the bridge over Ridge Creek, I drove us up the rough road as far as I felt comfortable before parking in an open meadow.  In my rush to get out of my house, I had forgotten to pack my GPS, and as we headed off into the woods, I casually asked if anyone else had brought along their GPS.  Wietse scoffed, "What do we need GPS for?  The mountain's right there!"  Vern only had a print-out of a topographical map of the area, but that was good enough for me.  I trusted that they both knew where they were going and followed them unquestioningly.  As we climbed up the slope, my lack of conditioning began to show, and I started falling far behind Wietse and Vern.  Only when I joined them at the summit did they inform me that we had been climbing up Coffin Mountain all along and not Sheep Mountain!  Wietse and Vern had realized this well before reaching the summit (evidently, I did not drive far enough up the rough road), and I was a little surprised that they had continued climbing given that they had both previously bagged Coffin Mountain already.

Before I had a chance to catch my breath, Wietse and Vern were already scampering down the east face of Coffin Mountain heading toward Sheep Mountain.  I tried to keep up with them but got stuck a couple of times in the deep snow lingering on the face.  By the time I bottomed out, my boots were beginning to get soaked, and my energy was waning.  I regretted not bringing more food and drinks as I plodded wearily up Sheep Mountain's gentle west ridge.  Wietse and Vern waited for me at the summit of Sheep Mountain, and as they sized up their next objective, Horseshoe Ridge, I wolfed down some peanuts in an effort just to stay awake.

As we descended to the pass separating Sheep Mountain from Horseshoe Ridge, I considered bailing out and making a beeline down the Ridge Creek valley to my car.  I was even tempted to ask for a ride with a couple of ATV enthusiasts we ran into at the pass.  As it turned out, I fell behind Wietse and Vern again as they trekked effortlessly over some undulating terrain.  Inexplicably, I continued following their tracks in the ever deepening snow, and before I realized what I was doing, I was committed to traversing the ridge.  Wietse and Vern did an outstanding job of breaking trail through the snow along the ridge, but I was too tired to really appreciate their efforts.  My feet were wet and cold, and every step forward seemed like a monumental struggle.  My mind definitely wandered a bit while I ascended Horseshoe Ridge, and an eternity passed before I staggered up to the pile of rocks marking the high point.  I rejoined Wietse and Vern just a little further along the ridge but lost them again as we dropped down the snow-laden forested slope back to Ridge Creek.  Ultimately, we picked up the rough road at the valley bottom and "cruised" back to my car (round-trip time of 9.75 hours).  In retrospect, I probably bit off a little more than I could chew on this trip, but it was nevertheless fun to share some suffering again with Wietse and Vern.

Be sure the check out Vern's trip report as well as Wietse's photos.
We don't need no stinkin' GPS! Wietse and Vern unwittingly head toward the south end of Coffin Mountain.
Might have to take a closer look at these some day soon... The Elevators garner much attention to the west.
By this point, they must have realized that this was NOT Sheep Mountain. Wietse and Vern continue up the south ridge of Coffin Mountain.
A most unexpected summit for me! Sonny, Vern and Wietse gather at the 2407-metre summit of Coffin Mountain.
Paula Duncan bagged this peak during her GDT trek in 2006. Tornado Mountain dominates the western skyline.
And I unwittingly followed! Vern and Wietse drop down the east side of Coffin Mountain's summit.
Remind me again why I want to go there... Sheep Mountain lies due east of Coffin Mountain.
I think Vern and Wietse are somewhere in this photo. Find them? The west ridge of Sheep Mountain presents no difficulties.
Looks a lot more interesting with the snow. To the north is Saddle Mountain.
I should have quit here... Vern and Wietse stand on the 2255-metre summit of Sheep Mountain.  Horseshoe Ridge is visible at centre in the distance.
I felt like lying in a coffin at this point! This is the east face of Coffin Mountain as seen from Sheep Mountain's summit.
At least going down, I could almost keep up to Vern... On his way down Sheep Mountain's southeast slope, Vern passes by some rock outcrops.
How often do you see a skull with a toupee?! Wietse spotted this sheep skull at the foot of Sheep Mountain.
An idyllic spot except for the ATV motors revving just beyond the trees! This tarn at a low pass between Sheep Mountain and Horseshoe Ridge is the source of Riley Creek.
I feel like sleeping already... Horseshoe Ridge is about as interesting as it looks here.
Wow.  How did I manage to get all the way over here?? This is looking back at Sheep Mountain from near the summit of Horseshoe Ridge.
More misery to come in the trees... Wietse and Vern begin their descent into the valley not far from the 2133-metre summit of Horseshoe Ridge.  Coffin Mountain dominates the view across the valley.
This is where we should have started the trip! Here is a last look at Sheep Mountain from the Ridge Creek valley floor.
There's cow dung everywhere, but it sure beats post-holing! Wietse and Vern take easy street back to the car.