Trapezium (Chad Lucier's Hill)
On 1 May 2021, Shaun Luong, Alda Sivaldason, Zosia Zgolak and I ascended a rather obscure hill located northeast of Mount Head in Alberta's Kananaskis Country Public Land Use Zone.  In her Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Gillean Daffern refers to the hill as "Trapezium" due to its perceived shape when viewed from a distance.  Although she does not explicitly describe an ascent route, she notes that legendary scrambler Roberto Pavesio climbed the hill on 21 October 2001 and dedicated it to Chad Lucier, a fellow resident of Field, British Columbia, who had died the week before after accidentally falling off the town's water tower.  Without any additional information, I used Google Earth to plot a tentative ascent route which would take advantage of some open slopes to the east of the hill.  Trapezium shares the same approach as Mount Head via a trail over Grass Pass, and before the start of our trip, Alda pointed out that someone had recently climbed that mountain and posted a photo on social media showing a lot of snow still covering the trail north of the pass.  With my usual cavalier attitude, I dismissed the need for snowshoes and presumed that the person who climbed Mount Head would have already broken a nice trail for us through the snow north of the pass.  Furthermore, I surmised that the valley bottom past the Mount Head turnoff would be mainly dry.

Starting from the Grass Pass trailhead (north side of Highway 541 about 300 metres east of Sentinel Day Use Area or 38 kilometres west of Longview), Shaun, Alda, Zosia and I hiked the easy-to-follow and mostly dry trail up to Grass Pass without any issues.  Dropping down the north side of the pass, we ran into increasingly more snow, and although there was already a broken trail of sorts in places, we were still regularly sinking up to our knees and hips.  Occasionally, we found some relief by detouring off-trail, but inevitably, we would be forced back onto the snow-choked trail.  With a lot of effort, we made it down to the Mount Head turnoff where we were happy to walk for awhile on some ankle-breaking rubble along Wileman Creek.  Unfortunately, my presumption that the valley bottom would be dry proved to be wrong as we again encountered more deep snow wherever the forest closed in on the trail.  Tiring of the miserable post-holing, we eventually abandoned the trail well short of one of my plotted waypoints, but after passing a short stretch of forest and some beaver ponds, we were relieved to be finally climbing up a nice and dry open slope.  Avoiding snow wherever possible, we worked our way over a minor hump and then up a series of grassy clearings to the east side of Trapezium.  During our approach, we could see that Trapezium's western slopes and south ridge were mostly dry, but the abundant snow at lower elevations made it too difficult to access that side of the hill.  Instead, we basically bulled our way up the snow-choked forest on the east side of the hill which was not a lot of fun.  Alda, initially, and then Zosia did a tremendous job of plowing through deep snow on the steep slope while I floundered badly even with the benefit of a broken trail.  We eventually broke out of the trees onto the dry south ridge, and the remaining hike to the top was thankfully uncomplicated.  A cold wind made it too uncomfortable to linger on the high point, and we stopped only long enough to snap a few photographs before retreating down the south ridge to have a break in the shelter of some trees.

When we resumed hiking, Shaun, Alda, Zosia and I retraced our tracks down the east side of Trapezium.  Although I was still sinking often and even had a few involuntary tumbles, descending the deep snow was infinitely easier for me as I allowed gravity to do all the work.  Upon reaching the grassy clearing below the snow-choked forest, we expended a little extra effort to tag an unnamed outlier to the east.  For now, I do not count this as a separate summit, but if it ever acquires a name in the future, I may change my mind!  From the top of the outlier, we descended its open south ridge without problems all the way down to Wileman Creek.  Once in the valley bottom, we picked up the trail again and spent the next two hours stumbling back to Grass Pass.  Mind-numbingly tedious would best describe this final extended round of post-holing misery, and I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when we finally crested the pass.  Like confetti at a triumphant celebration, we were pelted with graupel as we descended without further grief back to the trailhead.
Skiers fall into the water more often than you might think!

Shaun, Zosia and Alda begin their hike at the trailhead beside the highway.  In the background is Mount Mann.

Yep, I'm glad we didn't haul snowshoes along...

The trail to Grass Pass is mostly snow-free and easy to walk.

This would already be a pretty good day hike for many people!

Views open up to the south as Shaun and Zosia approach Grass Pass.

A little bit of snow ain't gonna slow us down!

The group hikes through a lingering snow patch at Grass Pass (1869 metres).

I've always loved getting Head!

On the north side of Grass Pass, the group gets its first glimpse of Trapezium at right.  At left is Mount Head.

And drop down into sheer misery...

As tempting as it is to stay high on the open slope north of Grass Pass, the group needs to drop down here and follow the main trail into the forest where there is more snow.

Waterproof boots help here unless they're already soaked from post-holing!

After enduring some miserable post-holing, the group abandons the snow-choked trail briefly to try their luck in a marshy area.

Unfortunately, we're not yet done with snow here...not by a long shot!

Zosia and Alda get a temporary reprieve from the snow in a dry meadow with Trapezium looming in the background.


Okay, maybe we should have brought along snowshoes...

Travel along the snow-choked trail is both frustrating and time-consuming.

Sometimes, not always!

Sometimes, it is easier to hike off-trail.

Boy, do ankle-breaking rocks ever feel nice after much post-holing! The group continues downstream along Wileman Creek just past the turnoff to Mount Head.
A green slope gives us hope! After another round of tedious post-holing, the group spots the inviting open slopes of an unnamed outlier to the east of Trapezium.
We might have left the trail a bit prematurely, but we were getting sick and tired of all the post-holing!

The group climbs up a steep but snow-free slope.

We're finally making some real progress!

The group makes its way to the east side of Trapezium.

Still more than an hour of sheer misery coming up...

From here, there is another 250 metres of elevation gain to reach the top of Trapezium.

Not sure how much snowshoes would have helped here...

The snow on the east side of Trapezium is both deep and steep.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

We should have gained this ridge much sooner! Shaun gains the open and dry south ridge of Trapezium.  Bull Creek Hills are visible at distant right.
What an epic slog to get here! Shaun, Zosia, Alda and Sonny stand beside a cairn on the high point of Trapezium (2207 metres).
R.I.P. Tucked in the cairn is a copy of a poem written by Chad Lucier.
I was a much different man when I climbed these two...

Holy Cross Mountain and Mount Head fill the view to the southwest.

I haven't climbed any of these...yet!

Notable peaks to the northwest include Patterson's Peak (left of centre), Pyriform Mountain (rightmost of double snowy peaks at right), and Junction Mountain (far right).


High on my to-do list! High Rock Ridge sits to the northeast.
And I was occasionally falling too!

Sonny retraces his steps down the east side of Trapezium under falling graupel.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Why not? Maybe it will eventually become a named summit too!

After descending from the top of Trapezium, Alda and Zosia head for the unnamed outlier to the east.

I'm not counting this as a separate summit even though I should!

Shaun, Alda, Zosia and Sonny are all smiles on top of the outlier (2014 metres) with Trapezium behind them.

Yikes...we still have a long walk ahead of us!

The group heads down the outlier's open south ridge.  On the right horizon is Mount Burke, and just below it in the photograph is Grass Pass.

Start of yet another sufferfest on this trip!

The group skirts around a partially frozen pond after descending from the outlier.

It's all downhill from here...which is a good thing!

The group climbs back over Grass Pass.

Better than rain!

Sonny and Shaun get pelted with another round of falling graupel as they descend from Grass Pass.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

A worthwhile trip, but wait until the snow disappears! Total Distance:  21.2 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  11 hours 25 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  1346 metres

GPX Data