Red Ridge

Zosia Zgolak and I hiked up Red Ridge in the Spray Lakes area of Alberta's Kananaskis Country on 13 August 2017.  The hike is described in Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide.  Although Zosia had already hiked Red Ridge in snowy conditions back in 2011, she was more than willing to repeat the ascent with me.  Starting from Spray Lakes day use area, we crossed to the east side of Smith-Dorrien Highway and found the signed access for the High Rockies Trail.  Shortly after, we reached a T-intersection with the main High Rockies Trail near a bridge.  The access trail for Red Ridge starts between the T-intersection and the bridge, but we missed it initially when we inadvertently followed another trail closer to the north bank of the creek (I built a cairn on the way out).  We soon found the proper trail and proceeded up the valley for about another 800 metres before ascending a large rubble slope to gain the crest of the ridge.  From there, we followed the ridge eastward, going over numerous false summits on our way to the high point.  Fortunately, the majority of the ascent was mostly easy hiking with a few sections of scrambling to keep things interesting.  Unfortunately, our timing could not have been any worse as we reached the high point just as the weather turned nasty with some cold, blowing rain.  We promptly scuttled our plans to descend to nearby Sparrowhawk Tarns, and after snapping a few quick photos, we beat a hasty retreat back the way we came.  The rain eventually stopped halfway through our descent which made it a little easier for us to pick our way down some of the tedious rubble slopes which otherwise become dangerously slick when wet.  Hoping to avoid the large rubble slope that we initially climbed up, we took to the forest and stumbled across a fairly decent game trail which led us more or less back down to the original approach trail (the flagging for the game trail along the approach trail is very easy to miss).  The rest of the hike out was quick and painless.
It doesn't look red to me! Red Ridge can be seen beyond the trees from the Spray Lakes day use area.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

I built a cairn at the start of the trail to Red Ridge. Sonny adjusts his pack on the High Rockies Trail.  The trail to Red Ridge begins at the yellowish rock (upper left).

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

These rocks are easier to climb than to descend... Zosia climbs up a big rubble slope with Spray Lakes Reservoir in the background.
I climbed Old Goat Mountain 8 years ago, and 8 years before that, I climbed Mount Nestor. I wonder what I will climb around here 8 years in the future... Mount Nestor and Old Goat Mountain can be seen across Spray Lakes Reservoir.
And they kinda get progressively harder too... This is the first of several short dips along the ridge.
Damn, I hate false summits! Zosia approaches yet another false summit along Red Ridge.
And lot looser too! Higher up the ridge, the terrain becomes a little more challenging.
The weather started to turn nasty here... Zosia approaches the final rise before the high point of Red Ridge.

Zosia has been up here before but in winter conditions.

Zosia arrives at the summit of Red Ridge (2633 metres) in blowing rain.


Looks like I'm taking a crap! Despite the blowing rain, Sonny is happy to tag another summit.  At upper left is Mount Bogart.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Hey, the rain stopped!

On the way back, Zosia approaches a striking pinnacle on the ridge.  At far left is Mount Buller.


Nicely done, Zosia! Zosia scrambles up a short chute which breaches a cliff band guarding the ridge.
Best scrambling of the day! Sonny follows Zosia up the same chute.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

I wonder where Wayne Pickard is these days... Across the valley to the northeast, the top of Mount Sparrowhawk is shrouded with clouds.
We will find a trail in here...somewhere! Zosia bushwhacks through the forest to avoid descending tedious rubble slopes.
A relatively easy outing, but wait for nicer weather! Total Distance:  8.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 4 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  898 metres

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