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Maze Peak

Difficulty: 
Moderate Winter Scramble
Elevation [m]: 
2409
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
7.5
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
950
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
977
YDS Difficulty: 
2
Ascent Time: 
2:45
Bushwhackyness: 
Essentially None
Tripdate: 
Sunday, December 14, 2014

 

Another trip to the Ya Ha Tinda with Steven, and Vern.  This time mostly to get some good views of the Geminid Meteor Shower far away from any light pollution (at least the man-made variety, the moon still would contribute some light).  Vern had arrived at the Bighorn Campsite early and was set up with a tripod and a fire when Steven and I arrived.  Views were actually pretty decent for a long while until clouds started to roll in obscuring the stars, aurora, and meteors!

 

Vern setting up his tripod looking towards Maze Peak and Labrynth Mountain.

Aurora visible to the north.

Managed to catch a few of the meteors as well as the aurora!

One last neat looking night-picture.

 

A bit before 2am it seemed like the meteor shower was swiftly winding down and we resolved to turn in for the night waking up sometime around sunrise-ish (not really that concerned about timing as our objective for the morrow was the nearby mighty Maze Peak).  Being right by the Red Deer River the campsite was surprisingly humid and left all of us feeling quite chilly overnight despite -20 bags!  Waking up a little after sunrise we rambled back down the Ya Ha Tinda approach road to where Bob Spirko's TR described a good parking spot for Maze.  Setting out from the car there is very little approach (a wee patch of open bush and then you transition into scree).  On this particular day the scree was exceptionally slippery thanks to a recent dusting of snow making all of us make sure we had decent footing.  Angling up climbers right to avoid an obvious cliffband we soon hit the ridge and started to get remarkably nice views.

 

Very open bush on the lower slopes of Maze Peak.

Not a cloud in the sky this morning!

Very slippery snow on scree to gain the ridge.

A wider view looking in towards Banff National Park.

Looking up at the rest of the route from the ridge.

 

Once on the ridge the rest of the route is pretty obvious.  Follow the ridge (complete with a few ups and downs) gradually bending around until the final slope towards the summit is visible.  On a clear day you can see a vast sea of peaks (a great number of which are unnamed) in the front ranges of Banff National Park and the unprotected wildlands to the north and south.  At this point we knew we were going to have plenty of time and slowly plodded onwards taking plenty of picture breaks.  At the lowpoint between the summit of Maze and an unnamed bump closer to Eagle Mountain I stopped to take a 'photosphere' (shown below, click on the image and drag your mouse around to view the whole sphere).  I've been quite interesting in trying to link a trip report together in a 'constellation of photospheres' (as Google describes here) to make a "Myst-like" navigable trip report, but man does it ever take a lot of images without a fisheye lens!

 

Steven negotiating a slippery section.

Great views from the ridgecrest.

The boys looking north towards Eagle Mountain.

 

 

Steven leaving the ridgecrest for a bit.

The summit in sight.

 

From the summit we could see a long way into majestic peaks to the south, west, and north, as well as the far reaches of the foothills (complete with a patchwork of logging/oil roads) to the east.  After taking a lunch break (on the surprisingly not windy summit) we started wandering back down content with the good views today and the excellent images from last night.  The Ya Ha Tinda area makes a good basecamp for off-season peaks, might have to come back in bad avi conditions and bag some of the other nearby summits.

 

Summit panorama from Maze Peak.

More zoomed in summit panorama.

Back down the ridge we go.

A short trek, but combined with the aurora and meteors still a good trip!

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