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A Snowshoe Jaunt Up GR 331575 or "Scalene Ridge"

Easy Snowshoeing
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Pretty Much All Burnt
Saturday, March 12, 2016

With a dire avalanche forecast derailing plans along the Parkway in Jasper it was time to head back to the front ranges, this time near Saskatchewan Crossing in David Thompson Country.  The objective for the day was GR 331575.  Previously I had thought that this peak was actually Triangle Peak (given on DTC local group COE's website which describes an alpine route on the east ridge and NE face) but it turns out that is one ridge further west.  In any case, this ridge still looks quite triangular when viewed from the east so "Scalene Ridge" seemed like a fitting name (scalene being a name for a triangle where all the sides are different lengths).  Snowshoeing up seemed like a decent plan for early season as the river would be easily forded and some of the deadfall would hopefully be covered in supportive snow (one of these predictions actually worked out!).

As mostly a scouting trip I reckoned I'd cross the river a ways downstream from the access to "Scalene's" upper slopes to get a feel for the maintenance level on the Glacier bike trail and the alleged (at least on my old topo map) trail up Spreading Creek to the east of Triangle for future reference.  
Parking at Whirlpool Point worked out well for crossing the river which was only a little over knee deep.  Once on the south shore I gradually worked my way towards the main bike trail and was surprised to find recent ATV and snowmobile tracks (so much for this being a non motorized travel park!).  The bike road was quite wide and made for quick progress to the base of Triangles west side.  I was surprised that the road kept going beyond where my map (and the park info) suggested it did and actually ends in a set of cabins (that even have satellite Internet!) Tucked below the outlier of Corona Ridge.

My crossing site near Whirlpool Point, only a little over knee deep in the middle.


The other side of the Whirlpool Point cable car.


A large clearing on the other side of the cable car.


Some mysterious bubbling white bacteria near the outlet of the creek.


There is a bridge along this open drainage even though it is far away from the Glacier Trail.


On the 'trail' which is really a road (and used by ATVs given the tracks).


The trail/road has distance markers to gauge your progress.


The of the trail where the cabin (just left of centre) is.

After a survey of the cabin compound it was time to start gaining elevation which meant putting on the 'shoes and setting off up on the snow.  At first in the somewhat dense forest the snow wasn't that bad (shielded from the sun) but before long getting up onto the burnt and more open slopes things started to become exceptionally sloggy.  Progress was slow but steady with many views to be had (just with thin burned trees in the way).  I aimed for the mellowest line to avoid the cliffbands coming off of the north face of the peak and stayed well west near a creekbed before gradually contouring towards the summit.

Not a bad place for a cabin at all!


Higher up lots of burnt forest to wander through.


Burns do make for interesting views, here looking towards Corona Ridge.


Looking north and east from partway up "Scalene Ridge".


Looking back at my tracks.


After about 3 hours of sloggery to gain 800 m of elevation I finally was within shouting distance of the summit ridge and was quite glad to take the snowshoes off.  The ridge itself was only easy scrambling to gain the rest of the elevation to what seemed to be the summit but was every so slightly lower than a bump to the north which was adorned with a large 'do not remove' labelled stick and a large cairn.  These slopes would have looked quite different before the burn!


With this snowpack progress was quite tiring, at least the ridge is getting closer!


At the summit ridge looking towards the lower slopes of Mount Peskett.


A wider view from where I gained the ridge, the false summit visible on the left.


On the false summit looking towards the true summit.


Regrettably, clouds started to roll in just as I reached the summit blocking out the views to the west.  Thankfully, further out into the front ranges views were still decent and some of the slopes of nearby Mount Peskett and the unnamed peaks nearby Peskett.  Lots of good beta from these pictures for future trips to come!  As the snowstorm from the main ranges was getting closer I didn't spend much time on the summit but did look for a register and couldn't find anything.  On a clearer day this would be quite a nice viewpoint indeed!


Summit views looking across the valley.


Looking back towards Mount Peskett and Mount Loudon.


Zoomed in towards Mount William Booth.


Another look towards Peskett.


Back down at the snowshoes, times to head down before the worst of the storm.


One last view getting the lower valley as well.


On the way back down, the snowstorm seemed to be quite heavy and I was quite glad for Gore-Tex layers!  As sloggy as the snowpack was on the way up, on the way down it was quite pleasent indeed being able to waddle down through my footsteps made for a good pace.  After 20 minutes or so the snowstorm started to lose intensity and another hour later things had cleared off to a very nice evening.  I made it down to the cabin a little before sunset and then started the plod back along the road towards the car.  For variety I decided to walk along the river which worked out quite well (I'm sure later in the year this wouldn't work out well when the river is higher).  Crossing back at Whirlpool Point was quite chilly!  Overnight a mix of stars and clouds made for very neat lighting.


A sense of the supportiveness of the snow.


Back down at the cabin before sunset.


Nice evening walk along the trail/road.


Looking across the valley to Whirlpool Ridge.


Nice colors after sunset while walking along the river.


Looking towards the Ex Coelis Peaks from Whirlpool Point.


Really neat views with stars and clouds and the moon!


Nice exploratory trip, have to come back for Peskett and the unnameds nearby it!

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