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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-26-2021, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Default O'Hara '21: Duchesnay to Cathedral

Last of Big 3 larch hikes (Skoki, Sunshine, O'Hara) I try to do every September. In summer of 2015, when I still foolishly measured quality of outdoor time by peakbagging standards, I scrambled Consummation Peak in Cathedral basin. Noting beauty of terrain and abundance of larches around Monica Lake I knew I'd return in Autumn one year to properly explore the area. I smoked the access road -- 9km to Linda/Cathedral junction -- in less than 1.5hrs, zooming by several groups of 30-35yrs younger people (Something will eventually kill me like everybody else, but it won't be heart disease). Took first break at Linda Lake, and things just kept getting better from then on. At Cathedral prospect junction decided to visit Duchesnay Basin I surveyed from Consummation. Duchesnay trail is much less defined and periodically disappears completely -- likely does not see much traffic. But top of this alpine area below Mt. Stephen is such an extraordinary place & I had lunch break in total solitude. Still wanting to enjoy larches by Monica Lake I noticed very easy highline route climbing on grass to backside of Consummation & took it. This is far superior access for Consummation than normally used Cathedral Prospect trail which is very steep; in addition there is fair amount of scree on south side of the peak, while the backside has only 10 or 15min of bash to the summit. From the saddle at Consummation backside it was familiar territory: Rarely visited Consummation Tarn, followed by very awkward boulder field crossing, and finally reconnecting with Cathedral Prospect trail above Monica Lake. Crossed Monica outlet then hiked up grassy bench below Cathedral that hosted several small tarns that could not be seen from below. On return also did loop around Linda Lake, before slogging down O'Hara road. Very long and tiring day , but what a beauty. Photo story:


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[Mt. Odaray Reflected in Linda Lake]


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[Very beautiful stand of golden larches at far end of Linda Lake; loop trail junction is here]


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[Vast alpine area at top of Duchesnay basin, not often visited]


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[Easy access to backside of Consummation peak from top of Duchesnay basin -- grass hiking only]


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[Backside of Consummation Peak; Mt. Odaray behind upper right]


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[Very rarely seen Consummation Tarn]


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[Top of awkward boulder slope on east side of Consummation Peak; do NOT attempt to cross this unless you are experienced in such places. With snow cover / moats, or if wet, it would be very dangerous. Take your time and test every bit of rock you place your foot on]


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[Looking back after crossing the boulder field that took 30 minutes of quite focused work]


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[Descending to Monica Lake after scrambling down from Cathedral Prospect. After crossing Monica outlet I hiked up that grassy bench at far side that had several small tarns]


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[Monica Lake outlet; there is no more trail here either]


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[Mt. Odaray reflected in small pool of water by Monica outlet]


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[Spectacular views to Core O'Hara basin, with many Rockies giants towering above: V - Mt. Victoria (classic backdrop of Lake Louise), H - Mt. Huber, L - mighty Mt. Lefroy, W - Wiwaxy Peaks, Hb - Mt. Hungabee, N - Mt. Neptuak (one of 10 Moraine Lake peaks, directly above Wenkchemna Pass), B - Mt. Biddle and S - Mt. Schaffer]


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[Lake O'Hara Telephoto, with Mt. Hungabee upper left and Mt. Biddle right corner. Opabin Plateau with Opabin Glacier center]


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[Another telephoto from Cathedral bench with towering Mt. Hungabee the most prominent peak on the Horizon]


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[One of several tarns below Mt. Cathedral, which I made my turnaround point]


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[Hiking down to Monica Lake with spectacular Mt. Odaray in your face]


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[Linda Lake from small rise on south side on return]


I didn't take GPS so it might be a bit hard to picture entire route, but here is the mock-up map:


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[L - Linda Lake, D - Duchesnay Basin, C - Consummation Peak, M - Monica Lake]


Will end this report with following: While Opabin Plateau is likely best O'Hara larch destination (and one of best alpine basins overall in the Rockies), concentration of larches around Monica lake surpasses it & is well worth the visit specially when looking to dodge the crowds; I suspect this won't be my last time here either.
martin, Mr. B, solo75 and 1 others like this.

Last edited by zeljkok; 09-26-2021 at 07:40 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-26-2021, 11:39 PM
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How fortunate we are, to live where we can experience this majestic landscape. Wonderful trip report, sussing out the off-trail gems. The photos of the larches and the magnificent mountains in the background are truly stunning. Thanks for this.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2021, 04:46 AM
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[Mt. Odaray reflected in small pool of water by Monica outlet]
Great shot.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2021, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
Spectacular views to Core O'Hara basin, with many Rockies giants towering above: V - Mt. Victoria (classic backdrop of Lake Louise), H - Mt. Huber, L - mighty Mt. Lefroy, W - Wiwaxy Peaks, Hb - Mt. Hungabee, N - Mt. Neptuak (one of 10 Moraine Lake peaks, directly above Wenkchemna Pass, B - Mt. Biddle and S - Mt. Schaffer
You skipped G, R and Y and I think that's D behind N. It's great to see a new angle on some old friends.

Great TR, and fabulous photos that, as always, provide inspiration for future trips.

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2021, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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You skipped G, R and Y and I think that's D behind N. It's great to see a new angle on some old friends.

Great TR, and fabulous photos that, as always, provide inspiration for future trips.

And I even scrambled Y at a time (loose final ridge). But pic is already a bit cluttered ;=)


What do you know about Duchesnay Pass? At Cathedral Prospect junction there was park table with sign "Duchesnay Pass Alpine Route", so it is probably traveled - by mountaineers likely.

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But it looks awful steep from O'Hara side
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That talus slope is 45 degrees or more, would be hell to get up that way but I couldn't see other way
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2021, 04:14 PM
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I've wondered about that pass too but have not been there. After seeing that picture I'm not likely to try. I've only been around the north side of Odaray on skis and the picture does not inspire that option either.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2021, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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I've wondered about that pass too but have not been there. After seeing that picture I'm not likely to try. I've only been around the north side of Odaray on skis and the picture does not inspire that option either.

Little Odaray (moderate scramble) is on my list for yrs, but it's kinda long day if you are going to walk that road both ways; and booking space at O'Hara campground is next to impossible. (While there were people with suitcases waiting for bus to take them to O'Hara lodge cabins)


Apparently Mt. Duchesnay is climbed from O'Hara side via Duchesnay Pass and according to Rick Collier is no more than class 2/3 https://bivouac.com//TripPg.asp?TripId=5400
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-29-2021, 03:42 PM
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Great report as usual! Thanks for the lunchtime larch fix
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-29-2021, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Great report as usual! Thanks for the lunchtime larch fix
Thanks martin. Your larches are coming up in few weeks, Manning trip would be nice :=)
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 09-30-2021, 07:48 PM
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Thanks martin. Your larches are coming up in few weeks, Manning trip would be nice :=)
We headed up to Manning for larches last year, trying to car camp was a complete fiasco with way too many people and multiple closed campgrounds. I have a plan B this time though hopefully it will happen
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