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Big Bend Peak and Mount Saskatchewan Junior

Difficulty: 
Snowshoe Mountaineering
Elevation [m]: 
2845
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
15.8
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1183
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1664
Ascent Time: 
3:50
Bushwhackyness: 
Not Very Dense
Tripdate: 
Sunday, April 21, 2013

Eric, Steven, and I drove down to Saskatchewan Crossing for a weekend of winter peakbagging meeting up with Vern driving up from Calgary. Our big goal was Mt Wilson, for the second day (due to more favourable weather) and on the first day we opted for a less intensive trek from Nugara's snowshoeing book, Big Bend Peak (and eventually ended up tacking on another peak from the book, Mount Saskatchewan Junior while we were there).

The route for Big Bend Peak plays out as in the book, starting at the well named big bend in the parkway and soon crosses the saskatchewan river over a snowbridge (today the snowbridge was on its last legs with not much snow lingering around). Once past the river the route briefly joins the approach to the Saskatchewan glacier before breaking off climbers left into the bush and up towards the false summit. We followed some old ski tracks up most of the way to a clump of trees in sight of the false summit and then headed upwards. The false summit slope is serious avalanche terrain and a slide here could have big consequences! Once past the false summit the true summit comes into view and looks really inviting (the viewpoint back towards the road is great too)! Nothing technical up to the summit of Big Bend Peak and the effort is well worth it for the expansive summit panorama.

After summiting Big Bend Peak it was only the early afternoon, so still pretty early in the day (and we spotted a line down out of the way of too much avalanche hazard so no need to rush) so we decided to add on Mount Saskatchewan Junior while we were in the area. The line we chose to get over to Sask Junior descended the opposite side of Big Bend Peak onto the edge of the glacier and then worked back around a wind-scoop before slowly plodding back upwards. As with most of the terrain up to Big Bend Peak there is no technical climbing but you are near/possibly on a glacier and in avalanche terrain so its no time to get careless. Once we started gaining more elevation the view opened up again (with even less clouds than on BBP) giving a good appreciation for this awesome area. Right near the summit of Sask Junior the slope gets significantly steeper enough that in most conditions kicking steps is probably a better option that snowshoeing (in our case snowshoes barely worked). The view from Sask. Junior is great, I liked it better than BBP due to the lack of clouds but they are both excellent. After taking in the sights and debating if we would head over to the lower summit closer to the Sask glacier (we decided against it) we head back down descending beneath BBP (in what would have been awesome ski terrain) back to our tracks and back down to the car. Back at the hostel water, food, and sleep were priorities (in that order) for heading up Mount Wilson the day after (which would prove to be along trek).

Big Bend Peak and Mount Saskatchewan Junior are great snowshoeing objectives but don't underestimate the avi terrain (and glacier hazard depending on your route choice).

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