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zeljkok 08-19-2021 08:48 PM

Gibbon Pass - Little Copper
17 Attachment(s)
Gibbon Pass is one of several high alpine passes traversed on well-known Bow Valley Highline route. It is named by John Murray Gibbon, publicity agent for Canadian Pacific Railway between 1913 and 1945. He discovered the pass, which now has memorial cairn in his name. This pass is also exceptional alpine environment; in summer dominated by wildfire smoke any clear day that are few and far in between needs to be taken advantage off. In the past I visited the area from Banff-Radium Highway via Arnica to Lower Twin lake, but did not have enough time (or energy) to continue to the Pass. This time, for variety, I thought I'd hike in via official "Twin Lakes Trail" starting near Trans-Canada and Hwy93 junction. Following Altrude creek this access trail is entirely in the forest, and considerably less scenic - but it is faster. It intersects Bow Highline by Lower Twin lake. I didn't find it too boring - much of the forest is nice, and last 2km were in open, although this part was also very muddy and slow going because of many rocks and roots. Then it was new territory - 3km long trail to the Pass, gradually ascending through mature forest, ending in spectacular alpine meadow dotted with larches. After enjoying lunch in total solitude at the Pass, I decided to hike up to the hill above the Pass for better views. Sometimes called "Gibbon Pass Peak" or "Little Copper", it is about 1.5km and 300m vertical and entirely easy hiking. Views from the summit were simply phenomenal and more than adequately justified fairly long trudge. Photo Story:

Attachment 288350
[Gibbon Pass and Memorial Cairn with Storm Mountain in the background]

Attachment 288352
[View on south side of the Pass; Bow Valley Highline descends for ~3km to Shadow Lake / Redearth Creek, then continues on to Egypt area]

Attachment 288354
[Memorial Cairn at 2300m high Gibbon Pass]

Attachment 288356
[View of Little Copper from the Pass; as easy as it looks. Make your way through meadows then hike up through larches to base of talus slope where bit of trail develops leading effortlessly to summit ridge]

Attachment 288358
[Final part of Little Copper ascent ridge; summit is that rocky knob upper center right]

Attachment 288360
[Looking back from Little Copper ascent ridge; Storm Mtn is upper left, and you can spot Lower Twin lake in the shadow below]

Attachment 288362
[Panoramic views east from 2590m summit of Little Copper; note ever-present pink container]

Attachment 288364
[Register contents: You can have a party! There's booze, dope and even a condom if you feel frisky]

Attachment 288366
[Fab views to distant Assiniboine. To the right is Monarch and Monarch Ramparts, and left "Healy Pass Peak", both of which I've visited in the past. Far left there is also Sir Douglas in Burstall area of K-country]

Attachment 288368
[Shadow Lake below Mt. Ball upper right. For more on this area, see my Redearth Circuit backpack report]

Attachment 288370
[Castle Massif to the east was equally photogenic, with cloud layer creating just the right visual. Sharp eyes can even spot St. Bride in Skoki area just left of center]

Attachment 288372
[Sawback Range with Mystic being the most prominent Peak]

Attachment 288374
[Pilot (L) and Brett (R), both difficult rated Kane peaks. I've been on Pilot, but not on Brett; there is alternate line bypassing the difficult ridge, visible as talus slope to the right of the peak & I might pay the visit some time, although peak-bagging is very low on list of my interest nowdays]

Attachment 288376
["Big" Copper, directly east - ascended from Redearth trail]

Attachment 288378
[Lower Twin Lake on return; campground is at upper Twin lake ~1km west on Bow Highline]

Total for the day came to 26km with almost 1300m vertical & 9 hrs. I'd really recommend visiting this area in larch season; on a clear crisp Autumn day Gibbon Pass must be on fire. For photographers, first part of the day is preferred due to sun position - but for that you likely have to backpack & overnight either by Shadow Lake or Upper Twin Lake, then dayhike in the morning to the Pass. Usual Map and Elevation Profile
Attachment 288380
Attachment 288382

Full report with high-res images and GPS track download link here

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