Mt. Edith is a mountain just northwest of Banff which offers 3 separate summits which are all accessible from a popular hiking trail. (3 Summits for the price of 1 !) The north and central peaks are moderate scrambles while the south summit is considered a difficult scramble. The north summit is the highest of the three.
My partners for this day were Rie and Kaori. Both of them were experienced scramblers who were looking forward to climbing all 3 summits that day.
After dropping off a friend at the airport at 9:30am, I headed straight for the mountains as I picked up Kaori (in Canmore) and Rie (in Banff) for our scramble up Mt. Edith. Due to my late start, we ended up leaving the trailhead at around 11:30am - quite possibly the latest start to date.
The trail to Cory Pass was fairly steep and uneventful. Mosquitos kept us from taking any breaks as we reached the pass in just over 2 hrs of hiking. The temperature must have exceeded 30C that day since it was HOT !
From the pass, the north summit was just another 30 minutes away. Due to the popularity of this mountain with scramblers and rock climbers alike, the trail to the summit was fairly well defined. But with that being said, I did manage to lead our group up an unnecessary gendarme along the way to the north summit. I called it a "warm up" afterwards but the girls didn't find that too funny.
The north summit can be seen near the center - to the right of the gendarme.
After another 10 minutes of scree bashing above the gendarme, we finally we reached the infamous chimney below the north summit. Although we knew there were 2 of them, we decided to go straight to the east facing chimney since it seemed to be the more popular one. After leaving our packs at the base of the chimney, we all squeezed ourselves up the tight chimney which led us to within 10m of the summit.
Here's Kaori starting up the chimney.
After realizing that there was no register on this summit, we decided to move on to the center summit which was marked by some sort of insulated water bottle impaled upon a stick.
Following the ridge brought us to a small notch before the summit block which we bypassed on a slabby ledge to the left. After a few meters of this careful traverse, we scrambled up a gully to the right which brought us back to the ridge and onto the center summit.
Here's a look at the summit ridge between the north and center summit.
Here's Kaori proudly displaying her fruit as Rie munches on a sandwich.
After a nice long rest at the center summit, it was time to move onto the challenging south summit. But before we could do that, we had to descend a very steep gully which connected the two summits. Now that I look back, this gully may have been the crux since it was very steep and slippery due to the pebbles-on-slab surface. Ok... it may have been my worn out soles but the fact that this gully had a rappel station should count for something !
Here's Kaori and myself as we slowly make our way to the col between the center and south summit.
The south summit of Edith was very interesting. It wasn't as difficult as I had first anticipated but the surface was very slippery due to the small pebbles. The guidebook mentioned a tunnel route on the left as being the easier route and it was probably right ! We went up to the right instead and ended up on some exposed scree ledges and had to climb up some more pebble-on-slab ledges to reach the "trail" which originated from the tunnel route. From there, cairns led the way through a small trench and up the ridge to the summit.
From left to right : The south summit, climbing up the right hand side of the gully, crossing a scree ledge, and scrambling up towards the ridge.
After a quick rest on the south summit, we promptly started our descent but stopped just before the small trench to survey the downclimb. That was when Rie had noticed that the bite valve from her drinking tube had just fallen off and was squirting water all over the rock below us. I found it a little humourous but the bite valve had the last laugh as my hand slipped from a wet handhold as I fell about a meter onto my back !
Luckily for me, the 50m 6mm rope in my pack managed to cushion my fall as I simply rolled backwards and came to a stop. The girls screamed in unison but were relieved to see me get up and continue my descent with just a few scrapes and bruises. Ironically, about 5 minutes later, one of the girls above me dislodged a rock the size of a grapefruit which just happened to hit me in the left knee. I found this to be much more debilitating than my fall since I couldn't apply my entire weight to my left leg. I started to wonder if these last two incidents were really just coincidences. :)
The consipracy theories running through my head must have clouded my sense of direction since I seemed to have trouble finding our entry point. The girls must have felt like Mario in a game of Donkey Kong as we moved left, right, up and down a bunch of ledges until we finally found the gully we came up from.
A quick scramble down the gully brought us to the col which then brought us down to Cory Pass. The trail was very tiring and painful and to make things worse, I had run out of water for the duration of the hike back to the car.
After reaching the car, we quickly jumped in to escape the clouds of mosquitos and drove into town to grab a Vanilla Coke. Upon reaching Canmore to drop off Kaori, I realized that the hiking pole I borrowed from her was not in my car. Despite the late evening and exhausted state we were in, we drove back to the trailhead at Cory Pass and picked up the hiking pole which was lying in the middle of the parking lot. What a way to end a day !