Island Ridge is an easily overlooked
forested bump located just south of Highway 3 on the Alberta side of the
provincial border at Crowsnest Pass. Dave McMurray's snowshoe
ascent was the inspiration for an aborted attempt by Zora Knezevic,
Dinah Kruze, Bob Spirko and me at climbing Island Ridge's northeast
aspect on 30 January 2016. On that day, we were stymied by deep
snow on the upper part of the ridge.
While Dinah and Bob would complete a
traverse of Island Ridge later that summer, I would not return for another attempt until
30 June 2017. On this day, Zosia Zgolak and I were heading to Cranbrook, British Columbia for the Canada Day long weekend and decided
to break up our drive with a quick hike up Island Ridge. Short on time, we opted
to take the most direct route to the top via the south ridge just as
McMurray had done, but unlike his trip, we had the advantage of being
able to drive to the south end of Island Ridge along Coal Road.
Where the road begins to veer away from the south end of Island Ridge,
there is an old blank sign board nailed to a tree. We started
hiking from here, and although we could find no obvious trail, we simply
headed up the path of least resistance through the light bush. We
were soon ascending open grassy slopes, and before Zosia could even break
a sweat, we were already at the high point. After having our fill
of the panoramic views from the top, we headed back down the south ridge
and even managed to follow a steep but well-beaten path all the way back
to the bottom. This path actually emerges from the forest right
behind the old blank sign board, but it is rather difficult to spot from
the road due to the thick undergrowth. With this short diversion
complete, Zosia and I drove back out Coal Road to Highway 3 and resumed
our journey to Cranbrook.
||Dinah trudges through deep snow on the
northeast slopes of Island Ridge.
||Zosia hikes through a forest of aspen
trees on her way up the south ridge.
||Zosia breaks out of the trees on the
south ridge. In the distance is
||The south ridge presents no challenges
on this day.
Zosia and Sonny stand near the high point of Island
Ridge (1814 metres).
Here is a more comprehensive view of Mount Ptolemy's
Distance: 2.6 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 373 metres