Sam Ridge, Jim Ridge And
On 30 April 2022, I led a large group of
friends on a strenuous hike up Sam Ridge, Jim Ridge, and Whisky Ridge
located in OH Ranch Heritage Rangeland just west of Longview, Alberta.
Although this area is mostly frequented by hunters and cattle, the fact
that the ridges are officially-named attracts peak-baggers like myself.
Alison Sekera's 2018
trip report was helpful to me in planning a route to tag the high
points of all three ridges. OH Ranch Heritage Rangeland is public
agricultural land which is leased to the nearby OH Ranch, and as such,
permission needs to be obtained before setting foot there. I
actually tried to get permission last November, but because it was the
height of hunting season then, my request was denied since hunters had
already claimed access through a lottery. This time, I had no
issues getting permission from the leaseholder, and she even pointed out
where I could park (pullout in front of barbed wire gate on northwest
side of Highway 541, 12.1 kilometres west of the junction with Highway
22) to access the area. Joining me on this hike were Asieh
Ghodratabadi, Shaun Luong, Ali Shariat, Aga Sokolowska, Wil Tabak and
From where we parked, Asieh, Shaun, Ali, Aga, Wil, Zosia and I headed
westward past the barbed wire gate and then squeezed through a second
barbed wire fence before climbing up a short grassy slope. We then
muddled through some marshy terrain until we intersected a doubletrack
which led us to another barbed wire gate. After going through this
second gate, we followed a fence line which runs due west over the south
end of Whisky Ridge. The initial climb here is quite steep, but
since we were all still fresh, we powered our way up the slope without
too much trouble. Dropping down the other side, we passed a water
trough before bottoming out and then climbing up an obvious cut line
going up the south end of Jim Ridge. This cut line peters out near
the crest of the ridge, but we continued westward and dropped down open
slopes into the next valley. Entering forest to bushwhack up the
south end of Sam Ridge, we fortuitously stumbled onto a reclaimed road
which allowed us to gain the ridge crest with ease. From there, we
followed the ridge crest northward and eventually hiked over the true
high point of Sam Ridge even though we were not absolutely sure that we
did. We took a lunch break nearby anyway, but when we resumed
hiking, we continued northward across a short dip to tag another bump
which looked just as high if not higher. According to my GPS unit,
this more northerly bump of Sam Ridge is marginally lower, but at least
it is not totally enclosed by trees like the true high point.
Near the south end of Whisky Ridge, Ali gets his first
glimpse of the forested tops of Sam Ridge peeking over the crest of Jim
From the northern bump of Sam Ridge, Asieh, Shaun, Ali, Aga, Wil, Zosia
and I turned eastward and made our way down into the valley before
climbing up the north end of Jim Ridge. The bushwhacking here was light,
and we were fortunate that the marshy low areas were still mostly frozen
and easy to walk through. Upon reaching the crest of Jim Ridge, we turned
southward and hiked over a scenic subsidiary bump before continuing to
the partially forested true high point.
||Snowy mountains are visible on the
horizon as Wil follows Asieh and Ali down the west side of Whisky
||Asieh and Ali poke at some ice in a water trough near the fence line.
||The group bottoms out in the valley
between Jim Ridge and Whisky Ridge.
||On the way up Jim Ridge, the group
follows a convenient cut line through an aspen forest.
||After climbing over the south end of
Jim Ridge, Zosia gets a clearer view of Sam Ridge in the distance.
||Upon gaining the crest of Sam Ridge,
the group heads northward.
||The group follows another fence line
along the crest of Sam Ridge. This is the western boundary of
OH Ranch Heritage Rangeland. The area left of the fence is also
public agricultural land.
||Asieh, Ali, Shaun, Aga and Sonny do
not realize that they are actually standing on the true high point of
Sam Ridge (1646 metres).
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
||The group continues to follow the
fence line northward to another bump along Sam Ridge.
||Aga, Ali, Asieh, Shaun, Zosia, Sonny
and Wil stand on the northern bump (1644 metres) of
With little reason to linger, Asieh, Shaun, Ali, Aga, Wil, Zosia and I
plunged down the steep slope directly east of the high point of Jim
Ridge. By this point, the whole endeavour of tagging scrubby ridge tops
was starting to become wearisome, and our ascent of the north end of
Whisky Ridge felt laborious. Upon reaching the northernmost high point of
Whisky Ridge, we stopped for another break before carrying on south along
the ridge crest. At one point, Zosia and I both fell behind the others,
but just as we were about to try and catch up to them, we spotted a knoll
to our right (west) that appeared higher. When we went to investigate, we
found a survey marker there, and my GPS unit confirmed that the knoll was
the true high point of Whisky Ridge. The rest of our friends appeared to
have missed tagging the knoll, but by then, they were out of earshot and
already well on their way to a subsidiary high point further to the
south. I decided that it was not worth dragging them all the way back
just to tag the knoll, and Zosia and I simply hurried to rejoin them at
the next high point. From there, we continued southward over a
couple more minor humps before dropping off the ridge crest prematurely
and taking a short cut back to the fence line we followed earlier in the
day. For the remaining hike back to the highway, we deviated a bit from
our original route, and although that entailed a little more
bushwhacking, we also got to check out one of the many beaver ponds
dotting the area.
||The group drops down a steep slope
heading for Jim Ridge.
||Ali looks back at Sam Ridge and the
rest of the group as they ascend Jim Ridge.
||The group hikes along the crest of Jim
Ridge toward the high point which is somewhere in the trees ahead.
||Here is a distant view to the
Holy Cross Mountain and
Mount Head from
||Asieh, Ali, Shaun, Wil, Zosia, Aga and
Sonny stand on the true high point of Jim Ridge (1612 metres).
In retrospect, my proposed route--roughly the reverse of that used by
Sekera's party--worked out fairly well with minimal bushwhacking, but I
grossly underestimated how strenuous this hike would be with all its ups
and downs. I apologize to all my hiking companions for suggesting that
our round-trip time would be about five to six hours, and I thank them
all for their bottomless patience, their good humour, and their pleasant
company. I also wish to thank OH Ranch for granting me permission to
access the area.
||Heading to Whisky Ridge, the group drops down
yet another steep
||The high point of Jim Ridge is visible
in the background as the group grinds its way up Whisky Ridge.
||Everyone watches Wil build a cairn on
the northern subsidiary high point (1587 metres) of Whisky Ridge.
||Zosia stands beside a survey marker on
the true high point of Whisky Ridge (1588 metres).
||Here is a closer look at the survey
The group walks to the top of a subsidiary high point
along Whisky Ridge.
Wil, Ali, Asieh, Aga, Shaun, Zosia and Sonny gather for
a final group photo on
the southern subsidiary high point (1584 metres) of Whisky Ridge.
||The group drops down for the final
time aiming for the fence line visible at right.
||Sonny stops by a beaver pond on the
hike out. Visible at distant left is Whisky Ridge.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
Distance: 19.0 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 10 hours 4 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1094 metres