AB Cen = Alberta Rockies Central (Banff & David Thompson) Mount Richardson and Skoki Larches - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-03-2020, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Default Mount Richardson and Skoki Larches

Last of Big 3 Larch hikes I like to do every year. Previous 2, Sunshine and O'Hara, weather was overcast, but I had bluebird for Skoki! Air was still bit hazy from these wildfires down south that seem to keep burning forever, but it was spectacular nevertheless -- Skoki really never disappoints. I never know where I'm gonna go & on a whim at Halfway Hut junction decided to visit Hidden Lake, which I haven't seen for awhile. From lake I was going to do highline meadow traverse to Boulder Pass and beyond, but call of Mt. Richardson looming above was simply too strong. I've been to Richardson many summers before and it remains my favorite Skoki scramble. Ascent is generally easy & crux is talus/grass slope above the lake as it gets fairly steep near the top. Once at the ridge going is easy & you never have to use your hands for anything, although total elevation is significant as summit elevation is >3000m. Views from the top I had entirely to myself are simply magnificent & it was hard to eventually peel myself off little nest I made, but I really needed to get down to the lake before dark. Photos tell the story:


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[Approaching Hidden Lake, with Mt. Richardson upper left. Larches were beyond their prime but still quite nice]


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[8 frames stitch (4x2) at Hidden Lake in full Autumn splendor looking towards Pika and Ptarmigan peaks]


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[Looking down to Hidden Lake basin after scrambling to the ridge. Mt. Redoubt center right. Do not hit the ridge too far south as there will be one difficult rib to cross before trail develops]


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[Remainder of ascent -- much easier from what this photo might suggest & there is trail most of the way]


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[Higher up trail skirts crumbly bit of ridge on west side]


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[Final wide talus slope. Only bit of difficulty is crumbling rock band in upper part. Staying climber left works best & there will be good trail on that side above the rock band]


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[Large cairn at summit plateau, looking back. But this is NOT the top, although I am quite sure most people turn back here. Continue for another 5 minutes north for highest point; it is more than worth as Merlin Lake below will be revealed]


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[Easy walk to north end and summit of Mt. Richardson. It is easy, but do exercise caution as it narrows at one spot with drop at west side and glacier on the other. There has been fatality here in the past, despite very benign appearance]


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[And this is why you want to go to north end -- aerial view of magnificent Merlin Lake deep deep below! Unfortunately air was quite hazy for better photo, yet it is very special]


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[For interest, view of Mt. Richardson from Merlin Lake I visited after camping at Merlin meadows couple of years ago. See this link for details/photos of that trip]


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[Magnificent Wall of Jericho. Better shot is from Mt. Redoubt, but you don't get Merlin Lake from there]


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[Drop down to Saddle below Pika peak. Kane advocates this descent, but my reaction is same as it was when I went up Richardson first time: Don't even think about it. It is glaciated, snowy and it drops on both sides. It is mountaineering]


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[Too many eastern Banff NP peaks to count on north side. Just make you drool. I've labeled most prominent ones]


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[Early dinner at 3080m elevation; should have brought the bivi sack]


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[Starting return as early evening shadows grow tall. Merlin Lake lower left already in shade with Pika still lit in sunshine above. Richardson glacier center right]


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[Glorious sunset colors as I dropped down summit block and started ridge traverse]


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[Alpenglow above Hidden Lake. Had to hurry to get down steep part but I made it to the lake without headlamp]


Some stats, from end of Temple road: 17km return & 1200m vertical. Add standard road walk, 4.3km x 2 + 350m vertical for day total of ~25km and ~1550m vertical, 8 hrs. Usual map and vertical elevation profile:


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Last edited by zeljkok; 10-03-2020 at 07:32 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 10-05-2020, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Couple more high-res panos, both with SLR


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[Hidden Lake Outlet, 2 rows, 3 frames in each row. Middle of the day so light way too bright, but still nice. Richardson upper left]


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[Single row of 4 frames, looking south from the summit. Mt. Redoubt directly across, Lipalian / Purple Mound I scrambled earlier this year to its right. Directly above Lipalian behind is snowy Mt. Ball and prominent peak in the distance just right of center is Mt. Assiniboine. Left side is dominated by peaks from Sawback range, too many to count!]


Full report with high-res photos and GPS Track download link here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 10-05-2020 at 02:15 AM.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 10-09-2020, 08:31 PM
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Awesome pics, you just made my Friday! Same trailhead as Lipalian, I assume?
I haven't been on any decent hikes this fall, let alone one above 3000m, getting that cabin fever...
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 10-09-2020, 10:10 PM
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Very nice! That area is on my ever growing list.

Every journey begins with one small step.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 10-09-2020, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by martin View Post
Awesome pics, you just made my Friday! Same trailhead as Lipalian, I assume?

Yes. It's 4.3km Temple Lodge access road you can bike, but you can't drive. I just walk. For Lipalian you branch right and up 5min before end of road, for rest you continue into "Skoki". Skoki is very compact alpine area with couple of back-country campgrounds and at least 10 peaks one can scramble fairly easily. Maybe comparable to Phelix Creek approach to Long Lake above Pemberton and all the peaks above.
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