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Sunset Peak and Mount Aberhart

Difficulty: 
Easy Scrambling
Elevation [m]: 
2549
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
27.1
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
820
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1500
Ascent Time: 
4:30 to Sunset + 2:40 to Aberhart
Bushwhackyness: 
None
Tripdate: 
Sunday, November 24, 2013

With more questionable weather around most of the Rockies Steven and I had to decide upon an objective and picked one that had been in the pipes for a while, heading up part of the Skyline Trail near Maligne Lake to go up a couple peaks from Chic Scott's Summits and Icefields, Sunset Peak and Mount Aberhart.

Starting off from the Maligne Lake parking lot the start of the Skyline Trail had been skied the previous day up to around Mona Lake which made for quick travel. Once past the ski tracks it became obvious how unsupportive the current snowpack was and the trek quickly progressed into snow slog territory given that progress was slow and views were minimal. There really isn't much to see from the trail until you get almost to Little Shovel Pass though the occasional glimpse of sunrise through the trees looked quite nice (our original plan was to watch sunrise from Sunset Peak but we ended up being a few hours behind schedule). Once near the pass the terrain opens up considerably and there are some great views looking back towards Maligne Lake as well as north towards the rest of the trail.

Heading up Sunset Peak was exceedingly straightforward and was windblown enough to take off our snowshoes. Having done the Skyline Trail by itself about 5 years ago as a daytrip I was quite happy to hang around for a while and take in the sights. The view from the summit of Sunset Peak is better than anything on the official trail and probably even nicer than the ever popular Bald Hills (looking down the lake rather than parallel to it). We picked a good time of year to head up as the peaks gained an impressive cloak of snow but the lake had still yet to freeze giving for some nice contrast. The gps gave an elevation of 2479m for the summit. Worried that the rest of the snow would be just as unsupportive as the stuff on the trail we quickly went back down to the shoes and carried on reasonably close to the trail towards Mount Aberhart.

It looked like you could gain Aberhart from a bunch of different ways, we chose the least avalanchey path that headed up a prominent windblown rockband and gained the East ridge. This proved to be a decent choice and leaving the 'shoes behind it was a quick plod up with a few scrambly moves before topping out on the summit. As a viewpoint Mt. Aberhart has a few things going for it, namely Fryatt, The Ramparts, and most apparently Edith Cavell. The peak grants a head on view of the east ridge of Cavell and even the distant bulk of Mount Robson was visible. Winds were high and daylight was fading so after snapping some pictures it was time to leisurely ramble back down following our tracks for the long plod back to the parking lot. I can certainly see the allure of the Skyline Trail in winter, have to come back when there is more snow and things are skiiable!

 

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