I owe this one to Bob Spirko. Perusing yet again his wonderful personal site I noticed Bob and Dinah, inspired by Mike Potter's "Ridgewalks in the Canadian Rockies" guidebook, traversed ridge north of Paget Peak
and had wonderful and very rare views that included Bath Glacier, Waputik Peak and more. Wait, I have that guidebook too! Potter advocates loop return by trashing down west slopes to Sherbrooke Lake, but Bob discovered alternate route that utilized wide bench below the ridge thus avoiding all the ups and downs on return. I was on Paget Peak long time ago (when Kane still mattered) & probably would not go back just for Paget Peak, but all of the above really spiked my interest.
Initial part is hike on maintained trail to Paget Lookout -- about an hour of brisk pace from Wapta lake parking (signed turnoff now). About half of elevation is gained to this point. This lookout is wonderful viewpoint indeed and has strategic bench below with seats made of ski boards!
Above lookout trail with cairns leads up bit awkward talus slope and then zig-zags to sub-summit, actually first bump of long Paget ridge. This one is still not Kane summit, although I imagine most people turn back right here. Marginally higher next bump only about 5 min away is "Paget Peak" and has cairn and register
["Paget Peak" summit. North ridge ahead]
[Closer look at Paget summit register. Here's that pink container again (no booze and no condoms - only toilet paper inside). There is magic crystal ball though, almost like it escaped from Stephen King "Wizard and Glass"]
[North Ridge Pano. Ridge eventually ends on top of orange colored cone, center left (right side of prominent "V"). Further to the right is unnamed colorful peak (with what seemed to be some weather station on top), and far right Mt. Bosworth. To the left are Mt. Niles and Niles meadows, distant glaciated Mt. Balfour and long ridge of Mt. Daly]
[Telephoto towards Mt. Niles. For anyone aspiring on Mt. Daly, this is great view of terrain one must traverse on approach from Niles meadows. Kane rocky pyramid with glacier ~center, Daly ascent slopes right. Mt. Balfour behind]
[View back south to glaciated Victoria North. Huber behind extreme right. Long Narao peak ridge, Kane moderate) foreground left]
Ridge is delightful. There are couple of bouldery areas but never difficult -- just watch your step. Even if you don't go all the way, it is more than worth getting over to the next bump. There was small cairn there too and bits of trail in pieces. On left (west) Sherbrooke Lake comes into view and directly below is Spirko bench used for highline return -- right by that snowpatch:
Continuing over there is another drop to saddle below north end; snow field allowed me to replenish water supply as I ran out. Ascent is steepish but large cream colored rocks are very stable & can almost be used as staircase. Near the top even bits of "trail" with recent bootprints developed, testifying this ridge sees some traffic after all. Top, that is actually higher than Paget Peak itself had 2 cairns but no register. And then the views! It is really why I do all this and more than worth all the trouble in quite a hot day. Do walk a bit north towards Daly (5-10 min only) for even better perspective of Bath glacier:
[Panoramic view from the saddle below North end. It takes only 25-30 min to the top & if you made it this far it is definitely more than worth to go all the way]
[View back from the top, showing length of ridge traversed from Paget Peak (just right of center). Long valley leading to Lake O'Hara behind, with sea of peaks that include Cathedral and Cathedral Crags (center right), and Louise Group (center left)]
[Amazing Bath Glacier directly below. It is very prominent for a long time as you drive from Banff to Lake Louise, but very few get to see this aerial view]
[Pano from the point ~5 min from the top, just before ridge becomes rugged. South end of long ridge that constitutes Mt. Daly upper left. Mt. Waputik center with sea of distant Icefields peaks on horizon]
I decided against dropping to Sherbrooke lake as I was not sure about amount of bushwhack lower down. Return on "Spirko bench" worked like a charm (thanks yet again!) & I was back to standard Paget trail in less than an hour. Beautiful sunset along the way capped much better day than anticipated:
Some stats: 15km return with ~1330m vertical, about 8 hrs. Usual GPS based Map and Elevation Profile:
Whole thing is essentially a hike. Highly recommended!
Full report with more photos & downloadable GPS track here