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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 01:17 AM Thread Starter
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Default Skokiland closed? Enter Protection

I wanted to end my 2012 Rockies hiking season with a bang: annual visit to Skoki Larch Goodness. But when I pulled at parking lot I got turned back by Park Ranger informing me that "area was closed because of aggressive grizzly". So I ended up enjoying these views instead:


Driving down from Skoki Parking I felt deflated; I even briefly considered just heading back to the Coast right away. But day was beautiful; it would be such a waste. I turned into Bow Valley Parkway and drove south -- let's just go down to Rockbound Trailhead and run up Helena Ridge -- it's been a long time since I've been there last time.

Driving along I recalled how (one and only) Bob Spirko scrambled Television Peak via Protection Ridge, accessed by relatively unknown old miners trail. I had no clue where was the trailhead, or what was involved. I had no access to my hiking guides and I was not about to waste another hour going to Louise and looking for Internet. But how hard can it really be? I remembered how Marcel B of Calgary Outdoor Club organizes this scramble with some level of regularity -- there must be some obvious parking lot and trail. After about 10 km I passed large pullout, but it was on the west side with no cars parked or signs. So I continued & reached Protection campground in another couple of km. I stopped -- this must be the trailhead. But no -- only Parks Canada signs how campground was closed for the season. I almost gave up & drove to Rockbound, but something about that pullout I passed kept bugging me. I drove back and parked. There was creek and large meadow on the east side. I checked right side -- nothing. I crossed over to left (north) side -- bingo! Initially indistinct, but pretty soon well defined trail (no signs or flags) led in "right" direction. Ah! Anything Marcel can do I can do too -- only better. I quickly gathered my gear and off I was.

Couple of initial boggy sections were actually bridged, which told me this trail gets maintained at some level. It parallels the creek in northerly direction for 20 minutes or so without gaining much elevation, then crossed on east side on a good bridge:


From here trail steadily gains elevation and reaches treeline in about 2 hrs and ~750 vertical from the trailhead. Dotted with golden larches and expansive views towards Louise area this is very scenic spot indeed:


10 minutes from here trail ends at remains of old miners settlement. I sat here for few minutes and enjoyed my first break:


Protection Ridge was directly east. Mine Entrance was few minutes above me in large Talus slope. I studied the route for few minutes and decided I'd traverse mostly level until I was directly bellow low point on the ridge, then scramble above. This was good choice and had least amount of loose terrain (as I discovered on descent). It also allowed me to refill my water bottle, as one of gullies I had to cross still had running water lower down:


I checked out the mine shaft -- it was pretty cool (If there was ever case to be made for HDR, this is it. But I refuse to do it):


From here it took me about 90 minutes to the ridge. Lower half was mostly talus and not terribly loose, and upper had some boulders and one minor rock band (that could be avoided to the right). Despite not being technical, almost 1400 vertical of elevation gain left my sea lungs a bit out of air. But spectacular panorama was more than adequate reward:


(Far end of ridge on pano above is apparently named Armor Peak, and can easily be scrambled in another 1-2 hours)

From the saddle I walked along the ridge crest for 15 minutes or so till I reached south end that offered great views of Television Peak (which is, according to Spirko, actual summit of Protection Mountain).


I had no more than 3 hours of daylight left, so continuing was out of question. So I took extended break and returned to my vehicle the same way; descent was almost twice as fast as ascent and I was at my car before sundown. Map of entire route:


Finally some ramblings about this route, which hopefully someone can find useful. Scrambling Television from this side will be very healthy day out. From Protection Ridge you need to drop at least 100 vertical, then go up another 300-400. This brings the running total close to 2000 vertical -- solid coast trip! In addition the ridge leading to Television is scrambling, not just grovelling up talus (various reports I studied afterwards indicated it was at least upper moderate. Spirko and his partner actually turned halfway up, and scrambled from east side!).

Optimal way in my opinion is 1-way traverse from Protection to Rockbound. It will still be a long day. This is somewhat documented in M. Potter Ridgewalk guide. I also know (fit and capable) group from Calgary Outdoor Club did this traverse by heading up Rockbound Lake first, but this is "wrong" direction in my -- respectful -- opinion as I always prefer to climb than descend steep and technical parts. In addition Rockbound Lake trail is much easier to hike out with headlamp if necessary. There is no real scenic advantage either way. This is how I plan to do it next time I am in the area: Protection up, Rockbound down. Lack of 2 vehicles is not a problem -- about 10 km of biking on paved road -- 30 to 40 minutes maximum.

(Anyone interested in this traverse, let me know & maybe we can hook up next year)
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 05:52 AM
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Wow, nice hike! I hadn't heard of it, so it's now on my list of possibilities.

The aggressive grizzly actually sounds somewhat dangerous - it snatched a dog off it's leash, obviously just feet from it's owner! We'd talked to a Skoki worker earlier in the summer who was quite concerned about the bear as it appeared to have no fear of humans and was hanging around the lodge. Hopefully it just gets a healthy dose of rubber bullets to un-condition it...
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 06:30 AM
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i might be interested in joining you for the traverse next year.

back in the 70's my dad went in from rockbound and all the way over to baker creek,then hiked back to castle junction that same night.

thanks for sharing,this looks like a more interesting route into the tv peak/protection area
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by zeljkok - If there was ever case to be made for HDR, this is it. But I refuse to do it
Why do you refuse to do it? Have you tried? I'm guessing you feel it's not natural and I find that amusing considering that you don't seem to have any reservations slapping on a polarized filter and getting some unnatural blues like this:



Quote:
quote:Originally posted by zeljkok - I reached south end that offered great views of Television Peak (which is, according to Spirko, actual summit of Protection Mountain)
Television Peak is certainly an unofficial name. I usually check the the government's Atlas of Canada website to confirm these things: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/topo/map



Quote:
quote:Originally posted by zeljkok - I also know (fit and capable) group from Calgary Outdoor Club did this traverse
I don't know if I would have described us as fit and capable, but thanks. We actually took it quite easy, lounging for way too long at the plateau below Stuart Knob. What I didn't mention in the Calgary Outdoor Club trip report was that Mitko had hurt himself. I can't remember if it was his back or knee, but this slowed us down quite a bit. Still even if a group were to take the time it took us (roughly 13 hours), this is not bad on a long summer day. Originally we intended to take the same route Bob described, but did not because of snow on sloping ledges which made for some dangerous conditions. It was a pleasant surprise when we found a way along the ridge, but I do recall the route finding was a bit tricky. This is still one of my favorite outings in the Rockies. I wish I had taken more photos, unfortunately back then I didn't have my camera hanging in front of me and taking a photo meant stopping and taking it out of my pack.

I would say a fit and capable group could do what we did (Stuart Knob, TV and Protection traverse up to where you got) in 9-11 hours.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 08:20 AM
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Your persistence in finding the trailhead paid off. BTW,I personally don't see anything wrong with HDR...it will sure tame the highlights. HDR photos can be made to look natural but a lot of people tonemapped their images excessively.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 08:33 AM
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That would make a pretty sweet loop, thanks for the beta.

Too bad about Skoki, as they say "There is always next year!"
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 10:42 AM
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The entire area from Rockbound Lake up to Castle, Helena Ridge, Stuart Knob, and TV Peak is quite the place. May I offer the suggestion of spending 1 night on top of the Castle Mountain plateau. There are some great places to spend the night. Several tarns between Pulsatilla and TV Peak. Some great spots above Rockbound Lake. We actually spent the night at about 2700m just below the Castle Mountain summit close to a snow patch. It was a clear night with no wind and one of the coolest nights spent in the Rockies.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 10:49 AM
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It's very good to visit the Rockies when you live in the Coast. Similarly I'd like to go back to the Coast for a trip next year, maybe with Eric. What should be on my top priority? I'm thinking about:

Parkthurst to Wedge to Rathel
Panorama to Gentian to Castle Towers
Brunswick or West Lion
Cheam to Lady.
Sky Pilot? How's that approach?

Of course, I have to finish The Black Tusk as it defeated me once...
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by jeffs78

The entire area from Rockbound Lake up to Castle, Helena Ridge, Stuart Knob, and TV Peak is quite the place. May I offer the suggestion of spending 1 night on top of the Castle Mountain plateau. There are some great places to spend the night. Several tarns between Pulsatilla and TV Peak. Some great spots above Rockbound Lake. We actually spent the night at about 2700m just below the Castle Mountain summit close to a snow patch. It was a clear night with no wind and one of the coolest nights spent in the Rockies.
me and my dad camped up in the area too,it is a nice place to lay your head at night,on a clear night anyways. just watch out for sock hungry packrats!! they tried to pull my dad's off when we was sleeping..lol
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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quote:Originally posted by StevenSong
What should be on my top priority?
Garibaldi and Wedgemount should be on anyone list. I've been up Cook (Wedgemount) and most peaks around Garibaldi, including Castle Towers. Both areas are far better visited with overnight camp. I'd leave Squamish area for later even if Sky Pilot is technically interesting once you are up in the alpine.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by solo75

Your persistence in finding the trailhead paid off. BTW,I personally don't see anything wrong with HDR...it will sure tame the highlights. HDR photos can be made to look natural but a lot of people tonemapped their images excessively.
Exactly. Even with properly used HDR I find it is not same as what my eyes saw (i.e. in that shaft I saw dark, not some dimly lit corridor HDR would give you). I know other people who feel the same. It is personal preference

Of enhancers I use only CPL as I am sucker for deep, blue skies -- but even that sometimes looks unnatural. Specially with current one that fell off and cracked somewhere on Titkana Peak earlier this year but I haven't replaced it yet. Darn things are so expensive.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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quote:Originally posted by jeffs78

The entire area from Rockbound Lake up to Castle, Helena Ridge, Stuart Knob, and TV Peak is quite the place. May I offer the suggestion of spending 1 night on top of the Castle Mountain plateau.
Thought has crossed my mind! I've been on all peaks around Rockbound (Castle, Helena, Stuart Knob) and absolutely love the area. But the plateau bellow Protection Ridge looked like a decent overnight candidate too:


It would allow more exploring east, including Pulsatilla, as you mentioned. It is fascinating how much this area has stayed off the radar, even if so close to super popular Louise or even Skoki.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by jeffs78

The entire area from Rockbound Lake up to Castle, Helena Ridge, Stuart Knob, and TV Peak is quite the place. May I offer the suggestion of spending 1 night on top of the Castle Mountain plateau. There are some great places to spend the night. Several tarns between Pulsatilla and TV Peak. Some great spots above Rockbound Lake. We actually spent the night at about 2700m just below the Castle Mountain summit close to a snow patch. It was a clear night with no wind and one of the coolest nights spent in the Rockies.
Were you able to get a bivy permit? I was going to do this earlier in the year, but the parks were really being weird about it. First they gave me a permit, then revoked it saying "it can be done in a day, so you don't need it". Then they emailed me again saying that they would allow me by the permit.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 01:50 PM
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Cool place!!! It's too bad about the bear,but look how good it turned out Love your pictures as always,and no matter what you say,your still a mountain ninja too
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 10-04-2012, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by zeljkok

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by StevenSong
What should be on my top priority?
Garibaldi and Wedgemount should be on anyone list. I've been up Cook (Wedgemount) and most peaks around Garibaldi, including Castle Towers. Both areas are far better visited with overnight camp. I'd leave Squamish area for later even if Sky Pilot is technically interesting once you are up in the alpine.
I failed Cook in 2010, at that time I couldn't even do easy scrambling... Definitely need to go back to Wedgemount Lake. I made to the base of Black Tusk in 2009, but didn't attempt to summit that thing...
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