Mount Racehorse

A poor weather forecast for 28 June 2014 prompted Dinah Kruze, Bob Spirko and me to head to the Crowsnest Pass region of southern Alberta in hopes of avoiding rainy weather.  Inspired by a trip report from Trevor Helwig, Bob suggested that we try to ascend Racehorse Peak, an unofficially named summit to the north of Racehorse Pass near the south end of the High Rock Range.  From the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3), we drove about 18 kilometres north on Allison Creek Road to an obvious turnoff.  Although in retrospect I probably could have driven all the way to Racehorse Pass, we opted to leave my car on Allison Creek Road and hike the long but easy 4.5-kilometre approach.

When we reached Racehorse Pass, the weather did not look promising.  The top of Racehorse Peak was shrouded in clouds, and I was not in the mood for expending a lot of energy climbing to a viewless summit.  Furthermore, the prospect of route-finding in limited visibility was also unappealing.  After some discussion, we opted to try ascending another unnamed peak to the south of the pass.  This unnamed peak is actually mentioned briefly in Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, and from our perspective, it looked like a relatively straightforward climb without route-finding worries.

After a short bushwhack through trees, we emerged onto the open slopes of the unnamed peak.  The ascent was relatively easy and trouble-free, and the few rock bands that we encountered were easily surmounted or circumvented.  The only negative aspect was arriving at the summit and finding it shrouded in clouds just like the top of Racehorse Peak.  With little to see, we simply snapped some photographs of ourselves beside the summit cairn before descending back to the pass.  We stopped briefly for a quick lunch before continuing the lengthy but uneventful hike back to my car.

Despite the lack of summit views and getting rained on several times, I still enjoyed the good exercise and the pleasant company.  It is likely that we will return in the future to ascend Racehorse Peak, but the unnamed peak that we climbed has much to recommend it.  As such, Bob and I agreed to give it an unofficial name of its own--Mount Racehorse.  Get it?

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report here
I was actually eyeing the small knob at left for much of the approach. Bob and Dinah walk along the road that leads to Racehorse Pass.  Mount Racehorse is partially shrouded in clouds at centre.
When mountain tops are covered with clouds, you may as well take pictures of flowers! Silky scorpionweed  is abundant alongside the road.
At this point, we still had no designs on climbing this peak. The clouds lift somewhat to reveal more of Mount Racehorse.
It's time to vote on what to do! As Bob looks into British Columbia at Racehorse Pass, Dinah looks discouraged by the prospect of climbing into clouds on Racehorse Peak.
Okay, at least we're getting somewhere! Bob and Dinah emerge from the trees onto the lower slopes of Mount Racehorse.  Across Racehorse Pass (centre), the top of Racehorse Peak is still shrouded in clouds.
She's already thinking about dinner... Dinah makes her way up some rubble.
Hmm...clouds are getting lower... Bob and Dinah climb higher up the slope.
Not bad for a granny! There is a little bit of hands-on scrambling on this slope.
You're not gonna like this, Dinah... There are a few false summits along the way.
Yay. Bob, Dinah and Sonny stand beside a small cairn on the 2530-metre summit of Mount Racehorse.
While Bob looks colour-coordinated, Dinah's green pack absolutely clashes with her purple jacket! The best views from the summit on this day are of Bob's and Dinah's new packs.
A rather painless descent! Dinah and Bob regain the road near Racehorse Pass.
Feels good just to sit down! Dinah and Bob stop to have a bite.  Mount Racehorse is still visible in the distance.
We still have a long walk ahead of us... Dinah and Bob hike out below some of the spectacular cliffs of Racehorse Peak.
This area is actually quite beautiful...if it weren't for all the ATVs... Here is one last look at Mount Racehorse (right).  Note the waterfall at left.
Looks like fun! Maybe I'll take up driving ATVs one of these days... A couple of ATVs pass by along the road.
Might be worth re-doing on a clearer day. Total Distance: ~11.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 5 hours 7 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: ~820 metres