Mount James Walker
For Canada Day 2016, I hooked up with Amelie Doucet and Marko Stavric to scramble up Mount James Walker in Alberta's Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  Following the directions in Andrew Nugara's More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, we started from Sawmill trailhead and had no issues hiking into the James Walker Creek valley.  Beyond a picturesque tarn in the lower valley, we had to go off-trail for a bit to avoid a short section of trail that was flooded, but we were soon back on track and climbing up the headwall guarding the upper valley.  Going up the treadmill rubble on the south slopes of Mount James Walker was the most tedious part of the trip, and as Nugara suggests, we made better progress once we veered over to climber's right to gain the ridge crest.  With most of the hard work behind us, we scrambled along the crest of the undulating south ridge all the way to the summit without too much trouble.  The ridge was completely dry on this day, and any serious obstacles could be circumvented to climber's right if necessary.

After enjoying lunch on the summit, we dropped down the big scree bowl as suggested by Nugara.  A large snow patch here could have been glissaded, but it was a little bit too steep for our comfort level especially since none of us had brought ice axes.  Instead, we simply plunge-stepped down the snow and continued on a beaten path in the rubble below.  Hiking out this scenic upper valley was easy, but the terrain is so wide open that we almost missed regaining our trail down the headwall.  The remainder of our hike back to the trailhead was quick and uneventful.

Although it is overshadowed by more popular peaks in the same area, Mount James Walker turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable scramble with pleasant weather, amazing scenery, no bugs, no bushwhacking, and best of all, great company.

Be sure to check out Marko's photos here.
What's up, doc? A rabbit forages nonchalantly on the approach trail.
Marko said that this already made it a worthwhile trip! Mount James Walker is reflected in a tarn along the trail.
It's a pretty gentle climb, actually. Amelie and Marko climb up the headwall guarding the upper valley.
Prepare for the only sucky part of the day... Marko and Amelie approach the south slopes of Mount James Walker.
James Walker Creek valley is more scenic than we were expecting. The open meadows of the upper valley invite further exploration.
Actually, this part wasn't too bad. The scree gets worse further up... Amelie and Marko begin the tedious ascent of the south slopes.
The wet slabs here can be a bit challenging to climb. Amelie and Marko scramble up a section of wet slabs.
The sooner you get over to this ridge, the better! Travel is less tedious on the ridge at climber's right of the south slopes.
Can you spot Mount Joffre? Kent Ridge North Summit and its outlier (GR244254) tower above the unnamed tarn in James Walker Creek.
Hard work is done; now it's all fun! Amelie and Marko take a short break just before the start of the traverse along the south ridge of Mount James Walker.
Just don't look down to the left... The first obstacle along the ridge is easy to climb over.
Looks a bit intimidating ahead, doesn't it? Marko waits for Amelie to drop down a dip in the ridge.
If you suffer from vertigo, you may want to give the left edge a wide berth... Amelie and Marko bypass another false summit.
Unfortunately, it's also further away than it looks... The summit is finally in sight.
One of my favourite shots of the day. Amelie carefully descends a short drop-off along the south ridge.  Mount Inflexible dominates the background.
What a fabulous ridge walk! Marko and Amelie climb up the last section before the summit.  The Fortress is visible at left.
Amelie and Marko have the "Captain Morgan" pose perfected! Sonny, Amelie and Marko stand on the summit of Mount James Walker (3032 metres).
A bit disappointing with the clouds rolling in... Mount Inflexible and Kent Ridge North Summit are the two peaks immediately to the south.  Also visible right of centre on the horizon is Mount Joffre.
So many familiar peaks... Familiar peaks to the northwest include Mount Assiniboine (left horizon), Mount Galatea, The Tower and The Fortress.
I wonder if my old ice axe is still somewhere on Mount Kidd South Summit... Mount Bogart, Mount Kidd South Summit and Mount Kidd are visible to the north.
Amelie is already in the rubble below the snow patch. Marko heads down the alternate descent route.
There are bits of trail here... The alternate descent route runs under the northwest face of Mount Inflexible.
There's even a green carpet to walk on! Marko and Amelie hike toward the first of several tarns in this upper valley.
Too bad about the ripples from the wind... This is the last tarn before exiting the upper valley.
Sorry, mommy ptarmigan! An irate ptarmigan hen prepares to assault Sonny after he inadvertently stepped on one of her chicks (the chick was fine--they are very resilient).
Close your eyes and relax... Water cascades down the headwall.
That's it for the views. Time to start chatting about TV shows and relationships! Here is one last look at Mount James Walker from the tarn in the lower valley.
A very underrated trip which deserves more attention. Total Distance:  18.0 kilometres
Total Time:  8 hours 32 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1204 metres

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