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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lake O'Hara - COVID Version

Annual late September pilgrimage to iconic Lake O'Hara basin I've been doing around the clock for over 20 yrs. I am used to walking 11km access road on the way in, but usually take 6:30 pm bus download that saves the walk out. But this is COVID year & buses are not running; the only way is to walk both ways. This means 22km roadwalk, so I figured once there I'd not go for any significant hiking & just go for photoshoot. All 5 or 6 weather forecasts (spot, mtn forecast, env canada, etc) agreed - bluebird. So I packed my gear, SLR + 2 lenses, tripod looking forward to golden colors.

It didn't happen.

What were all these weather models looking at I am not sure, but it was solid overcast whole day. So after walking 11km road and realizing it will stay cloudy while sitting at bench by the lake just below Ranger Station I pondered what to do. Answer is simple:


Go climb a peak instead


I set of for Lake McArthur, then scrambled Mt. Schaffer - peak I climbed several years before. It is start of fabulous McArthur horseshoe, mountaineering ridgewalk that also includes Mt. Biddle and Park Mountain, and while both of these peaks are technical, Schaffer is just an easy scramble. Photo gear, lugged around whole day for nada, stayed in the backpack -- all the pics below that tell the story were snapped with pocket camera:


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[Lake McArthur basin with golden larches slightly past the prime. Cloudy Mt. Biddle upper left]


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[Pano view of McArthur basin while ascending gentle grass/talus slopes in lower part]


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[Scramble portion of Mt. Schaffer ascent; much easier than this photo might suggest. Micro-terrain route finding skills are helpful as "trail" doesn't always lead in easiest direction]


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[Alternate, more direct access from Schaffer lake (below) is this talus slope. I do not recommend it; near the top it is awfully steep, even for descent. It is much better to stick to standard Lake McArthur trail (take high portion)]


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[View of alternate shortcut from Schaffer lake; steep bit is above snow patch just right of upper center]


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[Topping up on summit ridge, where technical alpine route from All Souls Prospect joins in. There is some easy scrambling / boulder hoping to official Schaffer summit, about 10 min away from here]

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[View back to Little Odaray and Mt. Odaray from start of Schaffer ridge / Biddle horseshoe]

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[Solid block that would actually be a problem if it wasn't for nice chimney on left side]

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[Summit Register. They serve Three Sisters Pale Ale on Mt. Schaffer -- who would guess!?]

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[Aerial view of Lake O'Hara with Wiwaxy Peaks above from Schaffer summit. 11km tooo loooong walk-in valley center left]

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[Pano looking south from Schaffer summit. Lake McArthur right; Opabin plateau and best place for larches in O'Hara area left]

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[Scramblers can continue for another 5-10 minutes, but impasse roughly center of photo lifts progress into technical territory]

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[Hiking out from McArthur basin after descent. Little / Big Odaray behind]

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[Dinner break ~7pm at very beautiful Schaffer lake]

11km walk out was definitely not welcome after day exertions and I took longer walking out than in. I should mention Parks are using all this lack of traffic to improve the road and that steep portion between km 8 and 10 is now really nicely graded. Map and Elevation profile from Lake O'Hara

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11km return, 750m from Lake O'Hara; add 11km x 2 and ~350m elevation road walk for total of ~33km and ~1100m vertical and ~10hrs. Recommended extension from Lake McArthur for competent scramblers, but a bit too long as day trip when buses are not running


Full report with more pics and GPS Track download link here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 10-09-2020 at 07:43 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
- all the pics below that tell the story were snapped with pocket camera:
The picture quality is really good except for some blown out clouds thus a blue sky day would have worked well. I am envious of you living close to the Rockies.

Quote:
I am used to walking 11km access road on the way in, but usually take 6:30 pm bus download that saves the walk out.
Can a person bike it or is it too steep?

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All 5 or 6 weather forecasts (spot, mtn forecast, env canada, etc) agreed - bluebird. So I packed my gear, SLR + 2 lenses, tripod looking forward to golden colors. It didn't happen.
I find spotwx and mtn forecast quite unreliable. I also use meteoblue but they all appear to differ when I check all three.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solo75 View Post
Can a person bike it or is it too steep?

Not allowed! First thing you see at road start is no cycling sign. Otherwise bicycle would work really well, would have to push for about a km at km 9 only going in, and maybe briefly just before km 2



I find spotwx generally reliable, not this time. What bummed me is consistent forecast across the board that failed. It's all good though
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 10-02-2020, 11:53 AM
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Spectacular excursion...way too big of a day for us.
Driving home from Yoho as I type this.
We hiked to BowGlacier Waterfall that day...it was cloudy until we were nearly finished
I planned this trip around this misleading weather forecast.
October 1st was the best day. We went to Paget Lookout & Sherbooke Lake.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 10-03-2020, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mr. B View Post
We hiked to BowGlacier Waterfall
Bow Falls are nice, but wouldn't it be great to see lake above that feeds the waterfall? It's called Iceberg Lake, directly fed by Wapta Icefield. There is bit of scrambling, but totally within your grasp (way easier than Phoenix Flatiron). You branch off Bow Falls trail near the end, cross the creek and scramble moraine on left side. See here for pics and full instructions. I fully recommend this to you next time around.

Last edited by zeljkok; 10-03-2020 at 03:18 PM.
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