Solo scrambling in group restricted areas - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Calgary
Interest: Scrambling, rock climbing, road biking & landscape photography
Posts: 45
Default Solo scrambling in group restricted areas

Hi everyone,

For the past three years I have been steadily converting from hiking to scrambling. Both this season and last season I have been able to summit something most weekends from June - October. For me an enormous part of my passion for the mountains is spending time in nature alone where I can work hard at my own intense pace and think and work out the particulars of my life. Over the past three years I must have hiked hundreds of kilometres in Banff, Yoho and Kananaskis, 90% of which has been solo.

I am very bear aware, have extensively read up on bear safety, carry a marine air horn and bear spray on my hip and do regular yodeling and bear calls.

I am wondering how the community feels about hiking / scrambling solo in areas with group restrictions due to bears? The reason why I am asking is I have still not been up Eiffel Peak and am thinking of scrambling it tomorrow alone. I was going to go up Mount Sparrowhawk but honestly I have wanted to get up Eiffel FOREVER But I never end up doing it for fear of getting fined or ticketed (what a outrage that I could be ticketed for hiking) - so I just keep putting Eiffel off. I was reading the trip reports for Sparrowhawk but then remembered how much I have been wanting Eiffel.

My issue is why is the hiking restriction in place at all?? Is there actually any more bears at Moraine Lake area than anywhere else in the Rockies? Deep down I suspect the restriction is in place as a means to ensure and protect the ability for the area to generate revenue in that if they put up a restriction of groups of 4 - the chances of that area ever having a serious bear incident are next to nothing (very rare for bear attacks to happen to groups of 4 or more). So – they put up the restriction, when it is no more dangerous than any other area – and ensure that people keep coming for years to come and be able to continue to charge park fees in this extremly popular area.

I have seen nothing that leads me to believe the Moraine Lake area is any more dangerous than any other area in terms of bears. Bears roam extensively through *all* areas of the Rockies. For instance, in my experience the area where a person if most likely to encounter a bear is the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis - every spring I take my road bike up the Highwood Pass before it opens to traffic on June 15 from the south end via Longview and *every* year for the past three years I see a bear on that road - if there should be a restriction anywhere, the Highwood is the place to put it in

I want to get up Eiffel tomorrow but I do not see why I should have to worry about being ticketed by a parks officer?

Is anyone else on board with me here or do I just sound crazy with my protection of the revenue stream hypothesis?


Last edited by brcollette; 09-27-2015 at 03:10 PM. Reason: Initial version to dramatic
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-06-2015, 11:39 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: North Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Posts: 258

In my opinion, if you feel comfortable hiking/scrambling alone, then you should feel comfortable making this decision alone. The rules are there to protect the "average" hiker....that may or may not be you. You decide whether the risk of a bear encounter is high enough for you to avoid making the trip alone....or maybe you're comfortable with the precautions you take....your call.

All that aside, you may still get a ticket.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 01:39 AM
Summit Master
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Finally stopping that crazy suffering that is ice, climbing to concentrate on great ski tours!, .
Interest: Anything that can drag me to the mountains. Backpacking is #1, followed by climbing, dayhiking and camping with family.
Posts: 3,782

Yes, some of those areas DO have a lot more bear activity than other places. Those restrictions are put in place once there are many bear/human interactions.

As noted you're more than free to do as you please, but know that indeed those areas have a much higher incidence of bear encounters as well as the fact that Parks will fine you if they catch you, and the staff are usually active in those areas.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 10:50 AM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Whistler, BC, Canada.
Posts: 368

Keep in mind the restrictions are there to protect the bears, too.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 11:55 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Interest: Hiking, Backpacking, Skiing, Space History
Posts: 723

I'm sorry, but the insinuation that the Conservation Officers have only put these restriction in place "as a means to ensure and protect the ability for the area to generate revenue" is downright insulting. As per the Parks Canada site, "Group Access was first used in 1999 in the Moraine Lake area of Banff National Park following several serious bear-human encounters. Complete area closures were initially implemented; then, Group Access was piloted to allow people to use the area in a way that minimized their risk of a bear encounter. The minimum group size requirement was changed in 2007 from six hikers to four, following expert review.". Paradise Valley and the area around Moraine Lake and Lake Louise is prime Grizzly territory and along a major wildlife corridor (hence the reason for the electric fence around the Lake Louise Campground and ski hill), but I guess you know better since you ride your bike to Highwood Pass every spring. As Big Ian pointed out, these restrictions are not only to protect the people who visit the area, but the wildlife as well.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-07-2015, 12:40 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Whistler, BC, Canada.
Posts: 368

The bear around Moraine Lake are way intolerant and generally less intimidated by people, given the historic (and ever increasing) traffic levels. Any confrontations with those bears will generally result in the animal being destroyed, which is neither Parks Canada's mandate nor good for a species at risk.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-25-2015, 10:58 PM
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-26-2015, 03:10 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Canmore, AB
Posts: 272

so do what most everyone else does when they are out alone. Team up with someone to complete your group of four(or increase) and then peel off climbers left to gain the ridge to Eiffel Peak. Once your scramble is completed do the same thing on the return. Yes it's a compromise and it technically is stretching the rules, but I believe that could be acceptable; perhaps even to Parks......but they would never admit to it.
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