May 26, 2017
Cornelius and I passed thoughts back and forth about a possible trip for Friday. It eventually narrowed down to 2 possible trips in Castle or Waterton. The webcams for Castle ski resort and Waterton town showed snow cover was thin on west and south facing slopes, and not really too much on east slopes either. There were plenty of options there, but it came down to Dunwey Peak, (aka “Rogen Pk” an easy Nugara scramble) or Windsor Mt (likely easy to moderate) in rating.
In the end we fixed on Dunwey Peak, not being sure on the conditions for the West Castle Road, and favouring what would be a nice and easy hike and scramble. We were keen to get a feeling of summer, and really getting this summer season underway with a Waterton hike is a great thing! We parked at the end of the Bison Paddock track as described in the More Scrambles book. There was quite the frog's chorus from the lovely little pond at the end of the track, and as we were readying ourselves, it was great to listen to the lively chorus.
We followed the nice Horseshoe Basin Trail through lush aspen forest that at times presented lovely views down over the plains behind us, and across towards Waterton Lakes, as the trail rose over a small hill on approach. It was nice to be hiking amongst such green vegetation and we stopped numerous times to just breath and enjoy the windless, blue sky day.
Looking at Lakeview Ridge (right of centre trending to far right) and Dunwey Peak (left of centre)
The nice ridge bookmarked by Galway (left) and Dunwey (right) above the Horseshoe Basin Trail.
As the trail travelled along beside the south end of Lakeview Ridge I spotted a mother bear and 2 cubs about halfway up the slope that we were considering to use for our ascent. We watched for a few minutes, and saw that mother was generally leading the cubs on a traverse of the slopes to the east, so we adjusted our thoughts on an ascent line, and decided to continue further along the trail and ascend to the west of the bears.
The trail descended a short way to a creek crossing. The creek was flowing well enough that we couldn't find a simple way to rock-hop, and took the time to take our boots off for the short crossing before continuing along the trail that cut along to the west before turning into the valley between Lakeview Ridge and Dunwey Peak. After the trail emerged from a lovely piece of aspen woodland filled with glacier lillies, we left it and crossed a small tributary creek before starting to ascend the scree and dirt slope of Lakeview Ridge... Only to find that the bears had switched direction and navigated around to the slopes above us. After a brief wait, they moved off further up-valley and we ascended, making sure to give them plenty of room. It was a bit of a grunt up to the ridge top, and we were a little surprised to see that it had taken us 2 hours to get to this point. I guess the photography was slowing us down a lot! Our ascent line followed an obvious rock line that provides a small profile ridge pretty much all the way up to the ridge top, it offered some rock to hike on to break up the effort of the fairly steep dirt and scree ascent, and the beds of spherical fossils meant Cornelius could give me a bit of a geological lesson - I have since forgotten the fossil names! I am a bad student.
Crossing the creek on a lovely warm Friday morning.
Lakeview Ridge undulates over an intermediate top to the high point, and it was generally a very pleasant walk with lovely views in all directions. At the summit of Lakeview Ridge we stopped for a bite to eat, and to soak up the views of our target peak, as well as Galwey Pk, Belleview Hill and over the plains to the Vimy Pk / Sofa Mt area.
Descending Lakeview Ridge was not the fast hike we thought it might be from appearances. Little rock steps required a little bit of hands on rock and gentle navigate, but soon enough we met back up with the Horseshoe Basin Trail briefly at the col. The trail only stayed on the ridge for a short way before descending over the col to the forested plain to the north. Our path kept us on the ridge leading up towards Dunwey Peak.
Looking at Galwey, Dunwey and Dungarvon from Lakeview Ridge summit, the glissade slope we used for descent is centre-right.
The ascent of Dunwey Peak was straightforward. I don't remember needing to take my hands off my poles except for some easy moves at the very summit. We ascended over the intervening bumps along the rising ridge rather than side-hilling to bypass the short elevation gain and loss and this worked nicely, and allowed us to enjoy the views all around. Views of Dungarvon were neat, and the sound of waterfalls coming down off its cliffs stirred the air to life. The ascent was a steady plod up the shoulder of the peak, navigating away from the edge to bypass a few short cliffs, and we were up on top of the peak quickly enough.
The cliff that dominates the south face of the peak added some nice drama from our position. The ridge that linked the peak to Galwey and Dungarvon looked nice, but would have made for a much longer day than we planned. Indeed, we talked about the option to Dungarvon, but decided that the ascent of it from the Redrock Parkway was described as a great scramble, so why add it on today, and miss out on that fun scramble another time.
The ascent shoulder of Dunwey Pk is straight-forward.
View along the summit ridge that extends to the west with me on the highpoint (photo by Cornelius).
Looking back to Cornelius from the west end of the summit ridge.
Pano of the ridge extending to Galwey.
We had spied a long snow patch that descended from about two thirds of the elevation of Dunwey into our exit valley and for a good length of the ascent we were excited to see if it would glissade. After quickly descending from the summit to the top of the line we were happy to find that it was not icy and perhaps a little mushy, but certainly not an issue. The glissade was great, if anything a little slow due to the surface slush, and we were down in the creek valley within the blink of an eye. This snow line would probably disappear pretty quickly, and may present cliffs that were not evident when we descended.
Cornelius makes the glissade.
My turn to lead the glissade down into the gully (photo by Cornelius).
After such a quick descent we were happy to have the momentum and be on the move down the exit trail. The start of the valley before meeting the trail was quite strange, it was filled with something that had the appearance of current stems - brittle and just starting to come into leaf, I haven't seen anything like that in the wild before.
The exit trail crossed a small creek a few times, and provided a fast exit with pretty good views all the way back to meet up with the part where we had left it earlier to ascend Lakeview Ridge. We never did see those bears again, which is a good thing, and we were sure to make plenty of noise to let them know where we were. Continuing on back to the TH was excellent in late afternoon sunlight across the face of Galwey and Dunwey and later the expansive entrance to Waterton Valley made that last trudge pass quickly enough especially when feeling the post-summit glow.
8 hours, 22km, 1500m.
Tick count = 2
Beautiful flowers in the aspen forest.
Glacier lillies in the aspen grove.
Exiting aspen forest to a lovely view over towards Waterton Lakes.
Our route - anticlockwise