Bloody ascent of Pyriform Mountain - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2015, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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Default Bloody ascent of Pyriform Mountain

Mt. Pyriform is a prominent and eye catching mountain in the Sheep river area of Kananaskis. It can be seen from many viewpoints in Calgary as well as from my favourite lookout near Turner Valley. I am madly in love with this mountain. It`s the only official front range peak in this area that is not covered in any of the guidebooks. It`s also the least visited official mountain in the front ranges. The ascent is easy, but the approach is relatively long, unless you have a horse. It`s not a terribly long day. Pyriform can be easily done in 9 - 11 hours. In mid September last year I couldn`t find anyone to get out with, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to go after my lovely Pyriform. The day didn`t start well. My plan was to ride my bike for the first 4 km of the approach and then continue on foot. Unfortunately the river was unexpectedly high that day. I almost lost my balance while crossing the river with my bike. I managed to turn around without falling in and decided to leave my bike in the car and do the entire approach on foot. After a couple of hours of hiking the trail became very rough and tough to negotiate due to the damage caused by the 2013 floods. I did not expect the trail to be in such a bad shape... That`s when the alarm bells started ringing. It turned out that there`s another trail that goes west to Junction Lake. The main trail going south simply disappeared. No wonder I lost it. Since the trail to Junction Lake also runs along the creek, I did not even notice I was heading in the wrong direction. I retraced my steps and found the proper trail. It continued on the other side of the creek, and was in excellent shape. Unfortunately it was getting late, so I pulled the plug and decided to try again the next day.

The next day the approach to Pyriform went a lot smoother than expected. After leaving the main trail, I found an unofficial trail that was not marked on a map. It took me all the way to the treeline below Pyriform. From there I sidesloped for about 30 minutes to the big west facing scree slope directly below the summit. The rest of the ascent was just an uphill slog. I was shocked that I did not do any bushwacking on this trek... It was totally unexpected... Sometimes the Mountain Gods are on your side, or so I thought... I spent over an hour at the top relaxing and soaking in the views in all directions. The perfect day didn`t last very long. I cut my finger right to the bone with my own knife when I tried to fix my backpack. Because the cut was very deep, my finger kept bleeding for a long time... I couldn`t make it stop... Even the ninja magic did not help... Despite losing a ton of blood [smile], I made it back to my car in one piece... If any of you go for Pyriform this summer, just follow my blood trail! No GPS track required. What did I learn from this trip? Don`t go solo! haha

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2015, 09:17 AM
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Nice! Thanks for posting Raf!

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post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2015, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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My pleasure. This adventure actually has a good story, so it was easier to write a trip report. Those unofficial trails that I discovered by fluke make this ascent more pleasant and easier. Took me two days to tag this bloody mountain! hahaha... I don`t care, it was fun, although it would have been nice to have company on this trip. It`s a long way in there. The main trail is all chewed up because of heavy horse traffic, so it`s impossible to bike all the way in. Too bad. BTW, I built a massive cairn where the main trail disappears right before the creek branches off to the west. If you see this cairn, cross the creek and continue hiking. There`s a lovely trail on the other side.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2015, 12:42 PM
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Great TR and nice pics. Many thanks
That 'three tier' waterfall pic is stunning, but those falls have no name? They are gorgeous, really should have a name.

Such great views from the summit. Amazement never ceases when you look at those sedimentary strata, so high up. To think they were once marine/aquatic deposits. This planet is so incredible.

Did you end up getting stitches? Blood loss from a hand cut can be surprisingly nasty. Notwithstanding the trail of red to the the peak, I wouldn't mind a copy of your GPX track in case i get that way this summer

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2015, 04:14 PM
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Awesome! Thank you for the route / ascent / trail info for this peak. I've had my eye on this one for a while, so this is absolute gold!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-15-2015, 12:44 AM
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good AB T/R
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 04-15-2015, 03:26 AM
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I've always seen the falls referred to as Junction Falls.

I hiked in to camp at the falls several years ago (long before the flood) and made the exact same navigation mistake. You're just hiking along the creek, and keep hiking along the creek, and it's only upon noticing the poor quality of the trail that it makes you think and figure out you've left the main trail.
Something about that spot makes crossing the side creek just plain not obvious, and it's really easy to end up on the way to Junction Lake if you're not watching for it.

Neat peak!
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 04-15-2015, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Rachel is correct. It`s Junction Falls. It`s located at the very end of the main trail. There`s a campground there. Lovely spot to spend a night or two! I absolutely love this three tier waterfall.

No, I didn`t end up getting stitches. It was a mistake, because it was a nasty cut and took a long time to heal. My finger is still numb to this day. If you ever cut your finger like that, get it stitched up!

Rachel, good to know that I wasn`t the only one who made this navigation mistake. I totally agree with you. Something about that spot makes crossing the creek not obvious and it`s very easy to end up on the hiking trail to Junction Lake. It`s exactly what happened to me. Since I did this hike after the 2013 floods, the poor quality of the trail did not surprise me at first, so I kept going.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2015, 03:30 AM
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Yeah, whatever is with that spot, it's a longstanding issue - if anything just reinforced by any flooding trouble in the area. I haven't been back there since the flood, but hope to head in this summer. I hope your new cairn helps prevent others from making the same issue!

I spent two nights there at the unofficial campground and hiked up above the falls (you can stand right in the water as it flows over the top of the waterfall, since half the volume is hidden underneath) and went swimming at the swimming hole you pictured in your small waterfall photo. It makes a great waterslide, and there is an underwater bridge. Clayton did a good TR on the swimming hole years ago. But next time I go, I want to go swimming at this one - so beautiful!

It's such a cool creek. I'm glad it wasn't completely destroyed by the flooding - I knew the trail had taken some damage, and I was afraid the whole thing would just be a gravel pit like a lot of the others, and lose all the nice rock outcroppings that made it so nice.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2015, 09:26 AM
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D'oh! Sounds like 'bloody' is a good descriptor for this trip all around!

It will be memorable for you at least! Thanks for posting.

Who needs a signature? Mine is always: Last edited by dougz; Today at 03:27 PM
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2015, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Rachel: This is such a lovely spot. I am going to spend a weekend at the unofficial campground near Junction Falls this year. I want to go swimming at the swimming hole. This place is a hidden gem in the front ranges.

XJ6: I don`t have a GPX track. I never record one. Only turn my GPS on when I absolutely have to. I`ll give a more detailed approach directions. See below.

Follow the main trail along Junction Creek all the way to the unofficial campground at Junction Falls. When you get to the falls, go left, cross the creek and enter the woods. Walk downhill towards another creek until you hit a very good trail. Follow this trail until it ends at a pool of water and a small canyon. Cross the creek again. The trail continues on the other side. There`s a cairn. The trail goes uphill through the trees. If I remember correctly you hike up for about 20 minutes or so. The trail then goes down and you will arrive at a significant drainage. Walk across the drainage. The trail now goes up towards Junction Cirque. The trail disappears close to treeline. At this point, leave the trail and start hiking towards Mt. Pyriform. There`s another drainage right before you arrive at the main west scree slopes that takes you straight up to the summit.
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