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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
Headed for the Mountains
 
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Default Mt James Walker

Mt James Walker, Sat. 24 August 2013

I had previously signed up for a meet up trip for James Walker but at 5:41am that morning, the trip leader cancelled the trip. I was a little relieved since my legs were very tired from a long run and some high tempo ball hockey the previous day. But I had all my stuff ready and it seemed like a nice day so I got up and left the house thinking of repeating Mt Bourgeau solo (did it back in 2003). When I was driving up Sarcee to 16th ave part of me thought to stop at the meet up location which I did. There was one other person from the trip who had not yet checked her email and did not know the trip was cancelled. We decided to go do James Walker together. We didn't know each other but turned out to be a very nice person.

We made good time and parked at the Sawmill trailhead off the dusty Smith Dorrien road. I have never used this trailhead before. We figured there would be some flood damage which there was but was cleaned up nicely. I wasn't sure where the initial trail was but we did spot some orange snowshoe markers and decided to follow those. After a few minutes it was clear these were not correct. I thought the good wide cross country ski trail would be to the east so we just cut through bush and not even 5 min later intersected the trail. From here it was pleasant hiking to a dried up lake. For some reason I had it in my head that the trail would end here and we would have to bushwhack up the headwall but we were pleasantly surprised to see the excellent trail continue up through the headwall and to tree line. A couple cool things en route; some pretty falls along James Walker Creek and a cave with a tiny creek coming out of it. Very cool.

From tree line we chose the SW slopes to ascend. From a distance they look steep and they are but was not as foreshortened as I expected. We scrambled to our right as soon as we could to gain the south ridge. From here, the grade eased off a bit and it was pleasant hiking/scrambling to the summit. A bit of exposure off the west side of the ridge but nothing serious. A couple rock fins or pinnacles to overcome but they were fun. We reached the summit at just over 4 hours. Very nice views!

We lingered for almost an hour and opted for the alternate descent down to a saddle off Mt Invincible and down to a nice valley/basin complete with a few tarns. We dropped 500m in 30min off the summit. A nice way to descend. This also created a loop of sorts. We hiked out this basin back near the start of the SW slopes. We hiked back down to tree line easily picking up the trail. The hike out was nice and easy and feeling good about the peak we just did. Approximately 8 hours and change return time.

I was surprised at how few entries were recorded. Appears this mountain is not ascended too often. It is a great hike/scramble. Excellent trail to tree line. Nice scramble route. Nice ridge walk. Great views. Great descent trail. Nice basin/valley with tarns.

Here are some photos.

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 11:03 AM
Headed for the Mountains
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada.
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Nice report! We almost did JW last weekend but settled on North Kent instead so we could make it back to Calgary for the Stampeders game against BC. Given how the game went, maybe we shouldn't have rushed back home!
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-27-2013, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Nothing but good things to say about James Walker. We both thoroughly enjoyed the trip from start to finish. I was bummed out about the Stamps loss too.
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