Loder Peak - Spring
Date Walked: 4th June 2012
Distance: 7.5 miles (11.9km)
Actual Ascent: 3011 ft (918m)
Time Taken: 6 hours
I begin my trip today with a pleasant ride along highway 1 (Trans Canada) to exit 114 where I join highway 1x linking the Trans Canada to it's neighbour highway 1A. Heading West along 1A I look for an opening across a roadside ditch where I know my route begins, directly opposite the lime plant in the bottom of the Bow Valley I relocate the parking area known to me because I was out here in April when the conditions prevented me making the full circuit.
I was quickly suited and booted and heading up the direct ascent that begins as soon as I step out of the car park.
it's a steep grunt to get straight into but there is no other way to tackle this particular mountain so I maintain my steady plod heading up good dry rocks to the first little ridge with the summit just visible on the left side of this shot.
once on the ridge there is a short almost level hike that allows me a breather as it climbs in steps toward the next serious ascent
the view along the Bow Valley is spectacular; this shot also shows the latter section of my intended return route 'Jura Creek' which looks to be dry for as far as I can see (the gray route at the bottom of the hill opposite heading into the pass from left to right)
the mountain plants are still displaying their spring flowers and it really adds a beautiful splash of colour on an overcast day.
there are several little scramble steps along the way which lift me in stages along the ridge to the next upper ledge where the lime plant directly across from the car park can be seen
from this point forward it is just a continuous hard scramble, wickedly steep but dry with perfect underfoot conditions on the sandpaper like rocks, grip is no problem.
when I reach the first of the three huge flat slabs I remember the line I tried to take back in April and how a combination of snow and steep flat rock beat me back, I decided to take on the scramble again to put those particular demons to rest.
it is the most energy sapping ascent I can remember, with both hands on rock at all times squeezing the deep crevices while my boots are firmly jammed into those same crevices. As I stop to take a rest and look back down the ascent I realise I made a very wise decision back in April, this would have been a death trap in the snow. As I reach for a drink I catch my walking pole and watch as £40 first slides and then bounces down the vertical and into the forest below....gutted.
as I finally top out onto the upper ridge I am absolutely worn out and have genuinely used every ounce of available effort on that prolonged scramble. I take a moment to sit and have an orange and guzzle more fluids than I've ever taken in one go, after a 5 minute rest I get up and set off again for a nice short ridge walk to the summit cairn of Door Jamb mountain.
it is a nice hike along the ridge and with just another 100 feet of ascent the cairn is in sight and behind it is Loder Peak, the sheer side of Yamnuska is visible further back between the two.
I stoop and tap the cairn before carrying on toward the drop off that will take me down to the col where I can cross and ascend Loder Peak, stopping to take a shot of the cairn looking across the Bow Valley before I turn my attention to the next target.
the drop down to the col is a straightforward steep little descent where I start to feel a little sick, listening to the glugging of juice in my stomach as I walk its pretty easy to understand why, sure enough a few steps later and all of that guzzled juice is back in the form of the 'liquid laugh' and my orange and breakfast along with it.
I'm beginning to think this hill has got it in for me, but I'm on the col, no matter which way I go I have to reascend so after a few minutes resting I continue along the ridge and start the ascent of Loder Peak.
mulling over the incident as I climb I think the huge effort followed by guzzling gallons of juice was enough to cause the sickness, I begin to feel better and as I reach the first point on Loader ridge the views down the valley toward Calgary make me glad I continued
with a final grunt up the steep finish and a few steps along a crumbling narrow trail I see the modest summit cairn away on a point ahead with a horizon full of mountains making an impressive backdrop.
even along this ridge (at 7400 feet) there are still wild flowers blooming adding that little extra to the hike.
finally at my target summit I can look back over the ridge walk from Door Jamb mountain below and across the bow valley, it is a spectacular sight even with the low cloud draped across the snow dusted peaks
to the North the mountains stretch away infinitely with the pointed peak of Mt Fable dominating the centre frame, at almost 9000 feet it is not one I'm considering right now.
if you look closely at my summit 'evidence shot' you will see in the foreground a small black canister poking out from under a large rock, inside is a pen and paper to leave your name and thoughts on the hike, though I have no idea who puts these things here or what happens to your comments. I added mine anyway, it feels like joining an exclusive club :)
after filling in my details and comments I turn back around to see the beautiful view down the ridge and across the Bow valley before I notice right there standing on the cairn...a little visitor
he does not seem at all bothered and stands proudly on the rocks watching me as I move around the summit.
after enjoying the views a while longer I decide it's time to move on, there is no sign of a trail for my planned descent route so I launch off a reasonable point and scramble down to a lower ledge. Once here away from the cool breeze I drop all of my gear and lay down against a rock and have myself a nap. When I wake up I have a bite to eat and a small drink before taking off down the steep descent.
I follow the natural fall of the slope aiming to hit a run off creek shown on my map, it is steep and mobile on the descent and I curse the fact that I lost a pole on the scramble up as I invent a zig-zag route down the slope
a little blue sky appears I descend and hit a long slope where I can see the run off creek below, the going is pretty good now with firm dry rock underfoot
I finally hit the dry creek and follow it around to a point where it meets Jura Creek, it may be a little wobbly underfoot in places but it is almost level with just a steady drop making the hike out incredibly easy
as I follow the creek I come across a slot canyon that appears to cut deep into the rock, I really want to go down it but don't fancy meeting a dead end or a sheer face to get out so I take to the rocks alongside and walk above it, sure enough it does get very deep with some deep standing pools inside it
the slot actually just reopens into a large area where I suddenly find a well worn trail, I find myself wishing I'd hiked the slot now
I feel my luck must be changing as I come across another slot canyon a little further downstream, I'm now only a couple of km from the car park so decide to go for it, if the boots get wet it doesn't matter, the first deep pool has a well placed tree acting as a bridge and I head down into the canyon.
it is a beautiful twisting slot with crystal clear mountain water still working away at the smooth canyon walls
the hiking through here is spectacular, the smooth worn pebbles at bottom of the canyon provide a beautifully even surface and the water is shallow enough to step through at most places where crossing is needed
the few deeper pools all have trees jammed in them suitable for crossing with dry feet until eventually the canyon widens out at a collapse and a little light scrambling is required over the collapse and down a short almost dry waterfall
soon after the waterfall the canyon opens to the wide mouth of Jura creek and it is a straightforward hike down to the power lines and along the trail from there back to the car park.
this was a fantastic hike, initially steep and arduous, then further along the relentless flat rock scramble was gruelling, lost my pole, got sick in the col between the two peaks but continued for the final sweet success of making the summit where a little chipmunk came to join me. Then to cap it all, on the hike out I find a nice slot canyon to round off a fantastic day...though I have to say, I'm never going back!