Mount Baldy West Ridge
A fantastic weather forecast on 1 April 2016 prompted me to head out to Alberta's Kananaskis Country after work to get in a quick evening scramble.  I originally had plans to ascend GR338442 as described in Andrew Nugara's More Scrambles In The Canadian Rockies, but at the last minute, I switched my objective to the west ridge of Mount Baldy which is also described in the same guidebook.  After parking at the pullout beside O'Shaughnessy Falls, I followed Nugara's directions by walking about 300 metres south to an obvious rocky drainage emanating from the forest on the east side of the highway.  As promised by Nugara, I found a fairly good trail which led me without fuss to tree line and the start of the scrambling along the west ridge.  The first serious obstacle is distinguished by a single piton hammered into the rock face.  I was tempted at first to grab the piton and ascend straight up, but I quickly backed down due to a lack of good holds on the face.  As Nugara mentions, the correct way to get around this obstacle is by heading to climber's left, but the exposure here is a bit daunting.  Not having done any exposed scrambling in awhile, I took my time testing all my holds before committing to them, but I eventually cleared this first obstacle which was as much a psychological hurdle as a physical one.  Now warmed up, I tackled the rest of the west ridge with renewed vigor and also some urgency since daylight was fading fast.  I enjoyed the scrambling immensely, and just as Nugara states, there is always easier terrain to be found just beyond what looks like a drop-off or a dead end.

The sun had pretty much disappeared behind the mountains to the west by the time I reached the cairn at the top of the ridge.  From there, I hiked over the summit of the west peak and continued along the connecting ridge to the southernmost high point of Mount Baldy.  I opted to drop down the forested slope to the south to try and intersect the Baldy Pass trail.  I stayed fairly close to an obvious drainage here although it was often easier to descend the flanking slopes rather than the drainage itself.  When I reached the creek bed at the valley bottom, the Baldy Pass trail was not immediately obvious to me in the dark.  The creek bed was still easy enough to hike despite some lingering snow patches, and I eventually stumbled onto the trail further downstream.  The walk out to the highway and then back to O'Shaughnessy Falls seemed to take much longer than expected, but I was entranced throughout by a clear sky full of stars.

I am not one to repeat ascents, but the west ridge of Mount Baldy is one that I would consider re-climbing given the short approach and the fact that I still need to go back and bag the east peak.  Any takers?
Although I parked at O'Shaughnessy Falls, it's probably better to park at the Baldy Pass trailhead. The approach trail starts on the left side of this rocky drainage.
Doesn't look so bad from down here... A clearing low down grants this foreshortened view of the west ridge.
This is where the fun begins... Rock slabs abruptly appear above tree line.
Difficult scrambling in the dark...good call! Daylight begins to fade on the west ridge.  The lower half of the normal ascent route for Mount Baldy's main peak is visible beyond the slabs.
It has been almost 20 years since I first climbed this peak! The main peak of Mount Baldy is still bathed in sunlight.
Odd place for the piton, though. Everything below it is easy to down-climb! A piton marks the start of the difficult scrambling section on the ridge.  The "easiest" way up this section is via an exposed traverse to the left.
You're pretty much committed at this point to keep climbing up! This is looking down the west ridge toward Barrier Lake.
Where we separate the men from the boys... The crux is an intimidating sight.
The angle of the photo makes this look innocuous, but it is very steep here. This is looking down at a narrow and exposed ledge (on the slab in the foreground) which Sonny just traversed.
Great way to spend a Friday evening! And that is why I am single... Past all major difficulties, Sonny tops out on a bump not far from the west peak (behind him).
Sorry, no Kanetrooper tonight. He has already gone to sleep! A couple of cairns adorn the 2174-metre summit of Mount Baldy's west peak.

Who knew that Mount Baldy's west peak was such a sexy-looking mountain?!

Here is a look back at the west peak of Mount Baldy from the ridge to the south.  The west ridge is also visible at left.


Very enjoyable ridge-walking here! Too bad I was in such a rush to get off this mountain! The connecting ridge to the southernmost high point has a few airy spots but is fairly straightforward to traverse.
I probably could have continued to Midnight Peak and made it up by midnight!! A couple more cairns sit on the southernmost high point (2152 metres) of Mount Baldy.  Midnight Peak looms in the distance.
Thank you, Mr. Nugara, for a very enjoyable that may be worth repeating! Total Distance:  7.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  4 hours 11 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  765 metres

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