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GR 660633 or "Lamb Hill", A Bike and Hike from the Hummingbird Staging Area

Difficulty: 
Easy Scramble
Elevation [m]: 
2587
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
33.9
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
950
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1240
YDS Difficulty: 
3
Ascent Time: 
4:00
Bushwhackyness: 
Very Minimal
Tripdate: 
Friday, March 4, 2016

There are some parts of the Rockies where it is almost hard not to find beta for peaks;  a Google search for access restrictions for a trail in Kananaskis will likely bring up reams of trip reports for peaks in the area.  There are also however parts of the front ranges where any beta is exceptionally scare.  For this weekend I decided to choose the latter and set my sights on the Upper Clearwater/Ram PLUZ.  A PLUZ is the government's acronym for a 'public land use zone'.  The most common PLUZ to scramblers is likely the Ghost River though there are many others in the province.

 
I was going to access the Upper Clearwater/Ram PLUZ from the Hummingbird Staging Area, right near Ram Falls Provincial Park on the forestry trunk road.  The Hummingbird Staging Area is known for three things,  ATVs, sleds, and horses (as evident by the sign at the parking lot).  I reckoned packed down sled trails might be fairly amenable to biking and opted for the bike and hike plan.  No real objective in mind, mostly follow one of the large trails on the map for as long as reasonable and ascend something for views (there are virtually no named peaks in the area to draw interest).
 
Setting off from the parking lot in the main South Ram River Trail the first challenge was a quite slippery ice crossing and then an unbikeably steep hill (the bike plan was looking grim).  Thankfully as soon as the trail got into the trees things flattened out and the snow stayed supportive meaning that I could cruise along at at least double hiking pace.  The trail winds up and down a fair bit and passes some clearings (nasty sun softening up the snow...) but it certainly is closer to a road than a trail in terms of width.  The course of the summer trail might vary a lot but slwdders had been using the Ram River a fair bit and biking on the river worked awesome where there was snow and far from awesome where where there was pure ice.
 
 

The large parking lot at the Staging Area.

 

Still a fair bit of ice on the river!

 

Not the most helpful sign for the biggest trail in the area.

 

Good terrain for bikes.

 

Looking back at an unnamed peak that would be quite scramble-able.

 

Getting closer to more impressive peaks along the trail.

 
After a couple hours I reached the branching point where the main trail divides into the Ram River Trail and the Ranger Creek Trail.  The Ram River Trail would lead to what bivouac call Aires Peak eventually.  Given how quickly it was warming Aires itself seemed a tad ambitious with a long bike back so I redirected to a closer unnamed, GR 660633,  which I would later come to call "Lamb Hill" given that is is relatively small and the range has a 'Ram' theme..  The later Ram River Trail was still fabulous with a few open grassy sections that were quite bouncy on the bike and then hard snow in the trees for making up time.  After reaching a drainage coming down from "Lamb Hill" I left the bike and head upwards amidst very pleasant bush to hit treeline.  Like DTC and the Ya Ha Tinda the front range here is windy and it certainly felt like winter covering the 500 meters of gain from treeline to the summit.
 
 

Skating rink style ice makes for tricky biking.

 

Still a decent trail but a bit bumpy.

 

So many unnamed peaks in this area.

 

Closing in on my objective, GR 660633 ("Lamb Hill") visible on the right.

 

Very pleasent 'bushwhacking' around here.

 

Up at treeline, very windy up here.

 

During the 500 meters from treeline to the summit the views really open up.

 

Looking up to a false summit.

 

The true summit on the left and the gap where the staging area is located in the distant right.

 

Views from the summit were neat.  A whole sea of unnamed peaks most of which look like some type of scrambles.  It would be quite easy to spend a couple weeks in here hopping from ridge to ridge (doing that and coming out through Banff could be quiet cool).  The wind was very chilly and my summit stay was brief.  On descent i followed my tracks and was surprised to still have good supportive snow even in the sunny sections.  Before long I was back at the car and off one staging area further south (Cutoff Creek) to meet up with Eric for the rest of the weekend.
 

Lots of scrambling-potential around here.

 

A pano looking east.

 

A pano looking southwest.

 

Back down to treeline, way warmer out of the wind.

 

Lots of interesting colors when crossing the river.

Back at the big hill beside the staging area.

 

Pretty great for a scouting trip, have to come back and scramble some more peaks in the area!

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