Ha Ling/Miner's Peak/Three Bumps/Mt Lawrence Grassi (lower and main)/Emma's Peak/ Ship's Prow/ Grassi Knob Traverse, August 13, 2013
This traverse turned out to be far more demanding than I thought it would be. For reasons that I will explain, I do not recommend it. However, I think that there are several different portions of this route that can be put together in a different way that would work much better. My plan was to traverse the Ehagay Nakoda Range from Ha Ling to Ship's Prow, descend along the east-facing hull of Ship's Prow and exit via the hiking trail from Grassi Knob to Canmore.
The initial portion of the route was simple. I ascended Ha Ling, Miner's Peak and the Three Bumps in short order. I brought some binoculars and on the highest of the bumps I looked for a route up to the lower summit of Mt Grassi.
1. Miner's Peak, the Three Bumps, lower and upper summit of Mt Lawrence Grassi from Ha Ling
2. Looking back at Ha Ling
3. Searching for a route up the lower summit of Mt Lawrence Grassi
I figured that the best plan was to work my way towards the discontinuity in the slope from the summit (the jag in the otherwise smooth line). I found that the scrambling was difficult but the route-finding was the most challenging that I have encountered to date. There is a system of scree ramps or wide ledges, but the difficulty is in getting from one to the other. Although my basic game plan worked, it required a whole lot of zigging and zagging and close inspection of possibilities. There were three difficult steps. The first was to get up to the first ledge (not too bad). The second was the hardest. Everything looked very vertical. I did not want to go up anything that I did not feel confident down-climbing because I did not want to get stranded on the intermediate ledge. I absolutely did not want to become the poster boy of the month for the Park's Canada Accident Reports http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/mtn/securi...accidents.aspx
The last step was technically difficult at the very start (because I'm not a good climber) but I was able to squirm up to easier terrain and reach the ridge.
4. Getting started
5. On one of the fat ledges
6. The last step up had a technically difficult (for me) start
I visited the lower summit of Mt Lawrence Grassi and then hiked up to the main summit. There is a low ridge that is easily climbed.
7. The small summit block of the lower peak
8. The main peak of Mt Lawrence Grassi from the lower peak
9. The small ridge before the summit of the main peak
I reached the summit in good time. I crossed over to the knobby feature next to the summit and down-climbed to the other side. I had climbed Mt Lawrence Grassi from the Canmore side the year before https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=51745
, so I knew that I could get off the ridge by descending a little ways down and finding a weakness.
10. Looking back at the lower summit and Ha Ling
11. Looking down at the Canmore Wall (cliff face not in view)
12. Looking east at the knobby bit (Ship's Prow ahead)
Here is where the route took a turn for the worse. I thought that it would be relatively easy to find a break in the next ridge to get to the bench like feature that some call Emma's Peak. No such luck. I was faced with a sheer wall and tragically had to descend 450 m until I found a passage. Moreover, the terrain was absolute crap on the descent so it was slow-going.
13. Emma's Peak with Ship's Prow beyond
14. I am forced to descend all the way down (just before the trees) before I find a break
15. Here is what 450 m of elevation loss looks like
Fortunately, the hike up to Emma's Peak was very mild. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm parked itself right over the peak (it was sunny on the west side but stormy on the east side). I was ready to high tail it down to the Spray Lakes Road if it moved my way. But it just sat there for quite some time. Eventually it moved east and I resumed my upward progress. I reached the summit of Emma's Peak, and got a good view of my last objective: Ship's Prow. Emma's Peak is not an official name. The feature is not really a peak at all. But someone took the time to make a register and name the feature, so good on them.
16. The easy hike up to Emma's Peak
17. The summit register
18. Looking over to Ship's Prow summit (with the prow feature to the left)
The last crux of the day was the down-climb on the way to Ship's Prow. It was a difficult scramble, but taken in steps it worked out fine. It was a short hike up to the summit of Ship's Prow.
19. The difficult down-climb
20. Looking back at Emma's Peak and Mt Lawrence Grassi
21. Looking down the ridge of Ship's Prow
My plan was to exit on the Canmore side via Grassi Knob. But first I had to get off the peak. The first couple of notches I looked at were suicidal. But then I came to a real beauty that allowed an easy path down. I was going to walk along the ridge so that I could stand of the prow. But then I noticed that there were at least three sheep that were on the ridge and when they saw me they retreated towards the prow. I thought that it would be a poor choice to corner the sheep. They have a better claim to this bit of real estate. Maybe I will check it out if I make a return visit (but not by this route) to finish off the last part of the Ehagay Nakoda Range.
22. The sweet route down
23. The south portion of the Ehagay Nakoda Range
24. Two more sheep took off over the other side
The rest of the way was easy. I traversed along the east hull of Ship's Prow and worked my way to Grassi Knob. From there I took the hiking trail back to Canmore. By the way, if you hike up to Grassi Knob it is well worth it to visit go right to the bottom of the Prow. Although it may look a little sketchy, there is an easy trail that goes all the way along the ridge to it.
25. Traversing along the hull of Ship's Prow
26. Looking up at the Prow
27. Looking down at Grassi Knob
Conclusion: This route suffers because of the massive elevation loss between Mt Lawrence Grassi and Emma's Peak. A cross-sectional traverse is much easier. For example, try Mt Lawrence Grassi by the Kane route and descend to the Canmore side via Grassi Knob, visiting the Canmore Wall on the way. Or go up Ship's Prow from the Spray Lakes Road and descend via Grassi Knob to Canmore.