Ribbon Peak And Bogart Tower
On 4 August 2012, I accompanied the intrepid Vern Dewit for an ascent of Ribbon Peak in Alberta's Kananaskis Country via the route described in Andrew Nugara's More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies.  Normally, a minor peak which sits under the shadow of a higher peak, namely Mount Bogart, that I had already climbed would not draw much interest from me, but fellow peak-bagger extraordinaire, Bob Parr, who had originally suggested the scramble to Nugara, had long listed Ribbon Peak among his most cherished ascents.  With the promise of a challenging climb and a scenic approach via Memorial Lakes, I was looking forward to bagging this seldom-climbed peak as Vern and I cycled up the road alongside Ribbon Creek.

Upon reaching the turn-off marked by a cairn, we ditched our bicycles and continued on foot up the north fork of Ribbon Creek.  Good conversation and the occasional waterfall helped to break the monotony of hiking the lengthy trail to the first of the three Memorial Lakes.  Beyond the unremarkable first lake, we had to do a little route-finding to regain the trail leading to the second lake.  By the time we climbed up to a bench overlooking the third lake, I began to tire somewhat and struggled to keep up with Vern which is not that unusual.  More troubling for me though was an old ankle injury of mine that was resurfacing and threatening to debilitate me for the rest of the day.  I slowed down considerably in an effort to alleviate some of the pain in my ankle, but this was not easy to do on the uneven terrain of loose scree.

I followed Vern up the intimidating headwall, but when I reached the easier terrain at the top, Vern was seemingly nowhere in sight!  Initially dumbfounded as to Vern's whereabouts, I soon realized that he was already halfway up the slabs to the summit ridge of Ribbon Peak.  From my vantage point, he was a barely discernable speck on the impressive wall guarding Ribbon Peak's south ridge.  Although I did not have a copy of Nugara's route description with me, I thought that Vern had started tackling the slabs a little too far to the north, and in retrospect, this was the case although Vern's route would converge with Nugara's "easier" route about halfway up.  I briefly considered heading further south, but seeing how well Vern was progressing up the slabs, I eventually followed in his footsteps.  As it turned out, Vern's route was reasonably easy to climb, but with a bum ankle and flagging energy, I proceeded at a snail's pace taking nearly an hour to get from the top of the headwall to the crest of the south ridge.

The scrambling on the south ridge is every bit as difficult as advertised, but while this would normally perk me up, I felt less enthusiastic than usual probably because there was not even room on the ridge to lie down and take a nap!  I was running on fumes, and the hot sun was not helping matters as I groggily surmounted one obstacle after another on the ridge.  I eventually ran into Vern who was on his way down after waiting forever on the summit for me to show up.  It was probably just as well that he was descending well ahead of me as I would have likely rained rocks down onto his head (not on purpose, of course!) had we been descending together.  After staggering to the summit, I spent about 30 minutes trying to catch my breath before commencing my descent.  Getting down was not much quicker than climbing up as every step seemed to require an excessive amount of procrastination and soul-searching.  I eventually rejoined Vern who had patiently waited for me for over an hour at the top of the headwall.  Together, we descended the headwall following the series of cairns that Vern had built on the way up.

Because he had not brought along his ice axe on this day, Vern opted to avoid a large snow slope just below the headwall.  I, on the other hand, had my axe, but ironically, I was too lazy to stop and equip myself with it before I launched myself down the slope.  In my tired state of mind, I felt that the run-out was reasonably safe, and that I could slow myself down with my hiking poles if necessary.  While both of these assumptions turned out to be true, what escaped me was how coarse the snow was.  In my haste, I had also neglected to put on a jacket and gloves, and I inadvertently was using my bare left elbow to self-arrest while sliding.  By the time I stopped in the run-out zone below, the skin below my left elbow was in bloody shreds.  At the time, I felt nothing more than a mild sting probably because my elbow was numb from the snow and because of the adrenaline coursing through my body.  I promptly got up and started hiking down toward the third lake and was somewhat dismayed that I had not caught up to Vern who was still ahead of me and out of sight again.  When I reached the third lake, I spotted Vern at the celebrated monument for which the Memorial Lakes are named.  Like a mirage, I chased him around the eastern edge of the lake and subsequently up the west ridge of Bogart Tower.  The scrambling on this ridge is surprisingly harder than it looks, but I was much too tired to notice.

Vern was relaxing peacefully when I joined him on the summit, but given the lateness of the day, it was not long before we were on the move again.  I quickly fell behind Vern as we descended Bogart Tower, but even after regaining the main trail, I had difficulty keeping up with him.  Vern was kind enough to wait for me several times, but even his patience has limits.  Just as we did on the way in, we had to bushwhack for a bit to regain the trail near the first lake.  We ran into some backpackers camping by the lake, and I was awfully tempted to accept their offer of a cold beer (I graciously declined).  I was even more tempted to crawl into the huge tent that was erected right on the trail, but by this time, Vern was starting to get anxious about how little daylight we had left and was urging me to move my ass!  I picked up my pace, but despite my best efforts, I still could not catch up to Vern.  The hike out the north fork of Ribbon Creek seemed interminable, and more than once in my exhaustion, I despaired of ever reaching the trail turn-off.

I actually was not too far behind Vern as he was changing into his cycling shoes when I reached the stashed bicycles.  As with my previous trip to Mount Bogart, the bicycle ride back to the parking lot was the highlight of the day.  Feeling the cool air as I zipped down the road seemed to wipe away all the pain and suffering I had endured over the past 13 hours.  At least that is something I can look forward to if I ever return this way to climb Wind Mountain (4th peak of Mount Lougheed).

Be sure to check out Vern's excellent photos and trip report here.
Vern just bought a new mountain bike. Vern rides toward Ribbon Peak.
More than 12 hours later, these bicycles will be a sight for sore eyes! Vern changes his shoes after locking up the bicycles.
A short-cut route from the third lake comes down this headwall, but we didn't use it. Mount Bogart (left) and Bogart Tower soar above the first lake.
We didn't actually go all the way up this slope. We cut to the right just below the cliff bands. Vern hikes up a scree slope en route to the second lake.
Much nicer than the first lake! The east ridge of Mount Sparrowhawk is reflected in the second lake.
Some easy scrambling is required to reach the third lake. Vern climbs the steep trail to the third lake.
I would have considered jumping into this lake at the end of the day if we had more time! Here is a more comprehensive view of the second lake.
I'm already tired...not sure I'll have the energy to climb this at the end of the day... This is Bogart Tower as seen from the approach trail below the third lake.
Doesn't look that hard from this angle... The west ridge route of Bogart Tower can be readily studied from this bench overlooking the third lake.
What made Bob think he could scramble up that headwall?? The scrambler's access to Ribbon Peak goes up the headwall on the right.
I still can't believe we're gonna go up this way! Vern crosses a snow slope below the headwall.
Watch your step here! The rubble is very loose! Vern traverses a scree slope partway up the headwall.  The third lake is visible far below.
Good place to replenish your water bottle. This is one of several small cascades on the headwall.
Where the heck is Vern?? Above the headwall, the col between Ribbon Peak and Mount Bogart is a desolate place.
Glad you know where you're going, Vern! Vern makes his way up the slabs of Ribbon Peak's west face.
Throw me down a rope, Vern? Vern starts to climb up the crest of the south ridge.
Enough ogling. Back to work! Ogling Mount Bogart is a good diversion from the hard work scrambling up Ribbon Peak.
This would have been a lot more fun if I wasn't so damn tired! The crest of the south ridge does not look inviting.
Just when I was getting used to the easy scree... The final summit block appears on the ridge.
Looks a bit intimidating, doesn't it? Vern descends from the summit block.
Just a few more easy steps... The summit cairn is finally within sight.
6 hours, 21 minutes from the car...ugh! Sonny stands on the 2873-metre summit of Ribbon Peak.
Doesn't look that much higher from here (it's about 260 metres higher). Mount Bogart dominates the view to the southwest.
Might be a few people up there today. To the northwest is Mount Sparrowhawk.
Still a lot of snow on the scramble route for Wind Mountain. Wind Mountain (4th peak of Mount Lougheed), Mount Allen, and Mount Collembola are visible to the north.
I remember dragging my downhill skis to the top of Olympic Summmit... At left is Olympic Summit while at right is Ribbon Creek.
Climbing Mount Kidd with Vern was a lot of fun. Mount Kidd sits to the southeast.  Fisher Peak is also visible on the distant horizon at centre.
Another interesting outing with Vern. I can still see the notch where I dropped my ice axe... To the south is Mount Kidd South Peak.
Boy that sun is bloody hot... Vern descends the headwall.
The lake sure looks inviting, doesn't it... Mount Sparrowhawk, Bogart Tower, and Wind Mountain provide a stunning backdrop to the third lake.  Vern is next to the monument at far right.
The monument honours 13 people who died in 3 separate airplane crashes all within the span of a week in June 1986. Here is a closer look at the monument with Wind Mountain in the background.


Nicest view of the day, but that wind bites!

With Wind Mountain looking impressive to the north, Vern relaxes on the 2375-metre summit of Bogart Tower.


I am hurting... From the summit of Bogart Tower, Ribbon Peak looks brilliant late in the day.