Massive Mountain

elevation: 2,435 m. height gain: 1,020 m.
area: Banff/Bow Valley,AB map 82 O/4

Drive to Redearth Creek Parking. From the gate, head south-south-east. Continue along the same bearing with a climbing traverse to a drainage, about 842732. Go across and carry on with the climbing traverse, the terrain gets steeper. The goal is to tread past Massive's north ridge and ascend treed slopes climber's left of a large bluff; this steep line grants the safest route in the winter. There is very little view of the bluff (842713) along the way, a GPS is useful. Once above the bluff, the easy ridge leads to the summit.
from the highway

From the highway, the preferred route is climber's left of the bluff (red).
Snowshoe trip: 10.25; 6.0 up. We suspected Massive Mountain would require a massive effort. We were hoping for bearable snowshoeing conditions; that would make or break the trip... We came prepared with a planned ascent route and navigational tools. With most of the height gain bushwhacking in the trees, it's no wonder trip reports are inexistent. Yet, Fab and I were up for the routefinding challenge, anticipating the barren summit ridge with exceptional views. We were very fortunate to start out on an old snowshoe track that seemed to be going our way. After about a kilometer, we left the track to follow our bearing. The snowpack was supportive and travelling in the Lodgepole Pine was pleasant. Past the drainage crossing, the terrain gets steeper. We pulled out the GPS on several occasions but reached the bluff a little high on its right, unable to gain our line of ascent without crossing large open slopes. We decided to keep going straight up through a string of trees. This direct line in steep open terrain is exposed, even with a firm snowpack this ascent is unnerving. We were happy to crest on the ridge, with both the crux and obstructed approach behind. We hiked the easy ridge enthralled by exceptional sights. Although the sky was becoming hazy, there was no wind and we could feel the warmth of the filtered sunrays. We had a great summit stay, quite thrilled about the accomplishment. As the wind picked up, so did we. Returning was easy. We opted to go down our planned ascent route (climber's left of the bluff), it is less hazardous but still quite steep. A traverse back to our up-track followed. The rest of the trip was mindless and almost effortless. In my opinion, the views from Massive Mountain's summit make up for the lack thereof along the long approach.
at the start

Starting up on an old trail.

flat ground

Travelling on flat ground for a while.

crossing the drainage

Crossing the drainage between Massive and Pilot Mountains.

nearing the bluff

Typical terrain approaching the bluff.

too high at the bluff

We're too high to reach our planned ascent route without crossing the open slopes or losing height.

alternate ascent

We choose an alternate direct route through these trees.

open slope

Ascending this slope was unnerving, even with good snow conditions.

ridge crest

Gaining the ridge crest.

finally on the ridge

The snow is shallow and wind-affected along the ridge.

highpoint ahead

The highpoint is easy to reach.

looking back

Looking back with Castle Mountain on the left.

summit ridge

From the highpoint, the summit ridge is followed to the top. Mount Bourgeau is visible (center-left).

at the top

At the summit cairn.

mount brett

Mount Brett.

bow valley

The Bow Valley.

pilot mountain

Pilot Mountain looks gigantic.



leaving the top

Leaving the top.

along the ridge

A cairn along the ridge.

ski anybody?

Ski anybody?

looking back

Looking back at the summit ridge.

very pleasant

Very pleasant ridge walk with fantastic scenery.

reaching treeline

We quickly reach treeline.

preferred route

Leaving our up-track to go down the preferred way.

less hazardous

Still quite steep, but less hazardous.

on the proper side of the bluff

On the proper side of the bluff.

back on our up-track

Back on our up-track in typical terrain.
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