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Black Cat Mountain and Boule Roche

Moderate Scrambling
Elevation [m]: 
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
YDS Difficulty: 
Ascent Time: 
Lots Of Deadfall
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It had been a while since any of our group had been to the Jasper region and armed with a favourable weather report Ken, Steven, and I set out to head up Boule Roche, a mountain right on the edge of the front ranges just outside of Jasper National Park. Ken and I had been thinking about Boule Roche for a while and had previously gathered some rough beta from the folks who run the nearby Black Cat Ranch.

We set out from the west side of the last bridge before Brule and headed up Scovil Creek hoping to find a prominent cutline visible on government maps and satellite images. Suffice to say finding the cutline was not as easy as we had hoped and after a fair bit of marshy bushwhacking we had enough of the lower elevations and decided to head up and over Black Cat Mountain on our way to Boule Roche.

Black Cat Mountain is a fairly small looking, mostly treed summit east of Boule Roche which wasn't part of our initial plans but turned out to be a good 'warmup peak'. After leaving the bush down below and heading straight up we eventually came across some orange flagging tape and followed a decent trail up to the summit (no idea where the trail actually starts down below, but it probably goes towards the black cat ranch). The summit view of Black Cat is much better than expected with good expansive views of Boule Roche, Prine Mountain, and the surrounding foothills. After a quick water break and signing the register it was time to descend Black Cat towards Boule Roche and get the rest of the ascent started.

While there had been sustained bushwhacking up to this point the col reached while descending Black Cat proved to kick up the ferocity by a few notches with lots of dense deadfall clogging up the terrain. After slogging through regaining elevation up to treeline at a horribly slow pace we eventually emerged onto good ol scree which greatly improved our spirits. As the Black Cat Ranch folks advised, the route up Boule Roche is just a scree slog but the interesting rock formations and plentiful waterfalls definitely make this into a worthy ascent. Once on the summit ridge a little bit of snow had to be navigated before reaching the actual summit which extends over a moderately large plateau.

Views from the summit are expansive reaching far out over the foothills to the East while catching hints of many of the major Jasper (and Willmore) peaks to the North, West, and South. We had originally planned to try traversing onwards to Kephala mountain but given the degree of bushwhacking that wasn't going to work out.

For our descent we opted to try to follow Oldhouse Creek towards the ranch which initially seemed quite decent before turning into a sustained and dense bushwhacking escapade. To put the bushwhacking in perspective the gps later outputted that our pace slowed to 0.3km/h for this section... Bushwhacking carried on for several hours gaining and loosing elevation as the timber dictated before we could cross back down to creek level, ford the creek to get to greener pastures, and eventually intersected with the fabled cutline to aid in a speedy return to the car.

The cutline was a little bit worse than expected. With all of the rain recently it was more of a canal than anything else, but it did offer bushwhack free travel which boosted our pace by 10x! A short while later we were back at Scovil Creek and then back at the car. All in all this proved to be a great exploratory trip with better than expected views (we were all glad we mixed up our navigation on the approach leading to ascending Black Cat too!).


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