Mt. Kidd is probably one of the most popular peaks in the Kananaskis area. Anyone who's been to Kananaskis Village will have seen this mountain towering above them to their west. Although this mountain has a north and south summit, the north is the higher of the two and has a moderate scrambling route to the summit.
My partners for this day were my friends Momoe and Fuuki. This was my first time scrambling with Fuuki.
Mt. Kidd is a mountain known for two things ; glissading and scree. If you go early in the season, you're treated to a great glissade on the way down - providing you don't set off an avalanche. If you go late in the season, you'll be doing a treadmill of death as you pedal through tons of scree. Because of this, my partners and I set off to do Mt. Kidd while there was enough snow to provide us with a glissade. And since it didn't snow for weeks prior to our climb, we figured it'd be safe enough as well.
After picking up my friends in Canmore, we arrived at the Galatea trailhead at around 9am. The skies were clear and it seemed like a perfect day for a scramble. We quickly set off on the Evan Thompson trail and promptly arrived at the large drainage which would take us up the main gully of Mt. Kidd.
: Momoe coming up the drainage
The gully became steeper, wetter and whiter as we progressed upwards. We eventually encountered at least a pair of waterfalls which required some careful scrambling due to their wet surface. We also avoided any of the snow lower down since it looked as though it was possible to slide or collapse through the surface and get sucked down into a waterfall.
a view towards the highway on the left. It's what drivers heading southbound
on Highway 40 will see as they round the curve.
Here's Momoe taking a turn at kicking steps.
After about 30 minutes of kicking steps, a slab or rocks appeared to the right which laid parallel to our ascent slope. Fuuki had enough of the snow and decided to scramble up the slabs instead of risking a slide. Momoe and I continued up the snow slopes which seemed to be getting steeper with every step. Luckily for us, the snow only crept up to our calves and not to our thighs.
As we were climbing up, we noticed some indentations in the snow about 50cm in width. They were undoubedtly left by the rear ends of some scramblers who were there maybe a week or so before us.
We eventually hit a small rockband but instead of walking up and over to continue up the gully, I decided to go to the left since it looked a little easier to traverse over and continue up. This was a mistake since we ended up wasting a lot of time traversing across slabs and scree. But the worst was yet to come.
Although the weather was near perfect until this time, we suddenly went from clear blue skies to whiteout conditions within a period of a few minutes.
As you can see above, a storm cloud is quickly blowing through as it obscures our vision and pelts us with snow and ice.
After enduring the snow and gale force winds for about 15 minutes, we eventually took refuge behind a huge boulder to discuss our situation. We were definitely offtrail judging by the lack of a trail/cairn and our 20m view prevented us from seeing the summit ridge so that we could re-orient ourselves. Things weren't looking too good...
considered turning back when I asked Momoe to call her friend in Canmore
to find out what the weather was like. Her friend told us that the clouds
in Canmore had given way to clear blue skies so I assured my partners
that the same would be true for us judging by the direction of the clouds.
Surely enough, about 5 minutes later, the clouds gave way to clear blue
skies ! This was great since we could finally tell where we were on the
mountain... but it also showed us how far we were from the summit.
After regaining our orientation, we continued onwards in a direct line towards the summit. The cold weather was cold enough to keep us moving but it wasn't cold enough to fuse the scree beneath us. This was really unfortunate since the scree really sucked ! And to make things worse, the clouds had suddenly come back in defiance as they brought along another wave of snow and ice. Momoe suggested turning back but even in my exhausted state, I just couldn't bear the thought of having to re-visit this mountain once more so I lied to her and told her we were about 30 minutes from the top.
She probably realized that I was lying through my teeth but after a minutes, she let off a scream of joy as she saw the antenna which marked the top of the summit. This gave us a sudden boost of energy as we all pushed ourselves onwards. Up until this point, I just couldn't imagine feeling so happy about finding a repeater station ontop of a mountain.
As soon as we reached the summit, something amazing happened. The clouds suddenly opened up once more - giving us an almost religious experience. Skies of blue along with a majestic view of snow capped peaks surrounded us from every angle. The speed at which the clouds blew by added to the dramatic view we saw. Oh ... a set of golf clubs were an interesting touch as well.
Here are some views from the top starting off with Fuuki and Momoe posing with some irons.
The climb to the top was relentless due to the weather and scree. It had taken us a ridiculous amount of time to reach the summit due to our retreat from the storm and our snails pace of ascent. It probably took us around 8 hours to reach the summit but the descent was a totally different story thanks to the snow. After walking down to the first patch of snow, we literally sat down for the ride as we lost elevation at about 20x the rate we gained it. It's hard to imagine but we actually went from the summit to the waterfalls in about 45 minutes. And we all wished it lasted longer because the glissade was simply amazing ! Out of that 45 minutes, we spent maybe 10 minutes in total walking from one snow patch to the next and each of us screamed in delight as we flew down the slopes.
Here's a look back at the waterfall and slopes above.
An hour later, we were back on the Evan Thompson hiking trail with a permanent smile on our face. The ascent was truly exhausting but we all agreed that the glissade more than made up for it. We even felt a little guilty that we had so much fun without paying a lift fee. Definitely worth a repeat next year.
We ended up arriving in Canmore close to 9pm. After dropping off Fuuki, Momoe and I decided to go to Banff to have some katsu-curry at Chaya but it was closed. We ended up having some bulgoki at Seoul House before calling it a day.
Definitely one of my most memorable climbs to date.