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Mount Maccarib and Mount Clitheroe

Moderate Scramble
Elevation [m]: 
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
Ascent Time: 
5:15 to Maccarib + 3:15 to Clitheroe
Sunday, June 30, 2013

Carrying on with our focus upon the more northern part of the Rockies (as Banff and Kananaskis are still in rough shape from the flooding), Steven and I decided to head to to a famous part of Jasper Park, the Tonquin Valley. Last winter based on some of Eric's pictures we were considering trying a snowshoe trek up Mount Maccarib but never went through with it due to other objectives, but we resolved Mount Maccarib and its neighbor Mount Clitheroe would be splendid objectives for views of the valley and surrounding Ramparts.

Setting out from the Portal Creek trailhead at the refreshing hour of 1:30am we made quick time in the pre-dawn dark taking full advantage of the cool air temperature (the forecast was for 31C today so we wanted to get as much distance and elevation done before sunrise as possible). It didn't take long until we reached the clearing before Maccarib Pass and the sun started to rise above distant eastern peaks. We had to make a decision as to which side of Maccarib to go up and mostly decided based on where the best alpineglow would be (climbers left would get Oldhorn while climbers right would get the Ramparts), we ended up going for the climbers right but with taking a bit too long to gain the ridge missed some of the best lighting (still excellent views though). Gaining Maccarib's ridge was slogging up scree and boulders with a few easily avoidable climbing moves on the ridgecrest. Once on the ridge the views opened up and we saw what an awesome environment this is, travel was quick to the prominent false summit of Maccarib where we spent a few minutes taking in some views. Heading over to the true summit of Maccarib didn't take long but did involve some moderate scrambling (which might not have been feasible in winter so probably for the best we didn't try this earlier) with one crux move that was quite fun. From the true summit of Maccarib there were excellent views of Edith Cavell, The Ramparts, and Mount Robson, as well as countless other peaks in the surrounding ranges.

Descending from Mount Maccarib towards Mount Clitheroe was made by jumping across loose boulders and scree towards the low point between the two mountains. From there we had the choice of the high road (the ridgecrest), the low road (descending to the valley bottom), or the middle road (traverse along the slope slowly trending upwards). After some discussion we knew that the ridgecrest had some serious dropoffs from a picture from the north which might not be negotiable so we started the middle road, side-hilling across numerous boulders and snow gullies until we eventually reached the main ascent gully. From there we headed upwards Steven on snow and me on rock (my scrambling boots are more slab oriented and not overly friendly with snow) which involved a few tricky (but avoidable) moves to gain the true summit. Views from Clitheroe were as awesome as as expected with all the peaks visible from Maccarib showing up as well as many more. This was a great vantage point for scouting out other potential scramble routes in the area like Majestic Mountain. After admiring the views for a while we took a snow gully down, glissading a lot of the elevation which was quite fun, hit the base of the mountain and then traversed around to regain the trail. Once back on the trail the temperature had gotten quite toasty and it was kind of a hellish dry slog back to the car (interrupted by lovely oasises in the form of creek crossings for more water). Our round trip time was right around 15 hours. If you are in the Tonquin Valley area, heading up Maccarib is certainly worth your time, the views are much more spectacular than those from the pass or valley below!


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