Molar Mountain

elevation: 3,022 m. height gain: 2,410 m. (includes height loss)
area: Icefields Parkway,AB map 82 N/9
2014-Jul-20


Ref: Drew and Mark in the Canadian Rockies. skirting the rockband
We took the easier trail that skirts the rockband towards the waterfall.
Scramble: RT 17.0; 9.0 up. Fabrice and I have been scoping out this objective since we've seen it on Nugara's website. We knew we had to be fit and determined to do it as a day trip. The thought of gaining Hector Pass and losing all that height gain going down to Molar Creek is disheartening but it's the price of admission for Molar Mountain. The weather forecast was deteriorating for our attempt but Fab was adamant about giving it a try anyway; with 60% chance of showers, I thought it was a bit risky... Another factor that added an element of uncertainty is the ford of the fast flowing creek; we weren't sure where to cross it and we couldn't allow too much time searching. Charles decided to come along, despite the warnings!

We woke at 2:30 AM and it was pouring rain, I walked the dogs around the property and came in already soaked! At this point, Fabrice decided to upgrade his raingear for the trip. We drove off to the trailhead in the rain; we were both quiet... Moments before arriving at the trailhead, the rain ceased; I sarcastically said: "wonder how long that will last". We followed the good trail to the waterfall and continued on a crude trail to Hector Pass, that took us 2.5 hours. Coming down the other side on the karst pavement was thoroughly enjoyable; we spotted Charles who camped there and joined him before resuming our descent to Molar Creek. We avoided rockbands by veering skier's left towards a drainage and followed it until we got to the forest. We steered away from the drainage (skier's left) into mature timber and bushwhacked our way down to valley bottom. The undergrowth was still soaked from last night's rain, my saturated pants kept sagging down like a skateboarder's. Eventually, trees made way to shrubs and open terrain; soon thereafter, we were hiking along the east side of fast flowing Molar Creek. We could see that part of the creek coming from Molar Pass still needed to be crossed. We searched for a place to rock hop across but that seemed treacherous; we tried setting rocks but most of them got swept by the current. We looked around and found a smoother section just before the creeks converge. We took turns at crossing the knee-deep creek with our boots on; it was rejuvenating! We carried on, with squishy boots, to Molar's described ascent drainage. The ascent is direct and the terrain is pleasantly negotiable. The way through the first rockband is obvious as you go and the rubble on the upper mountain is relatively stable. We ascended the summit block on its ridge line, climber's right via a short easy-moderate scramble. A few steps and we stood by the cairn; I was ecstatic, I had my doubts! We took the time to enjoy the view and the accomplishment. We grabbed a bite and Fab signed the register before we headed back down to the first rockband, where Charles had been patiently waiting. Back at the ford, Fab took a spill; his camera got wet and he lost a pole. My camera also got wet; as I tripped, it popped out of my side pouch. A bit wet and with daytime slowly running out, we didn't linger. The undergrowth in the drainage had dried off by now; I hoped we would gain Hector Pass before the rain, if it came. We picked up Charles' extra gear and continued on the fantastic karst to the pass. The rest of the descent was uneventful and it never rained; we reached the truck with only minutes to spare before having to use our headlamp. This outing is very satisfying, now I must sleep!
looking back
Looking back.
above the waterfall
Above the waterfall, we continued on a crude trail that handrails Unnamed Peak.
looking back again
Looking back again.
faint trail to the pass
Cairns dot the faint trail to Hector Pass.
little hector
Little Hector is nearly engulfed in cloud.
at the pass
At the pass, Molar Mountain comes into view.
east side of the pass
Dipping on the east side of Hector Pass.
karst pavement
Lovely trekking on karst pavement.
aiming for charles bivy
Heading towards Charles' bivy in the grasses.
resuming our descent
Resuming our descent via a drainage far skier's left.
descent to molar creek
Our descent to Molar Creek.
fording the creek
Fabrice about to pounce in knee-deep water. (video link)
molar's ascent drainage
Molar's ascent drainage on the left.
weakness reveals itself
As we near the rockband, a weakness reveals itself.
looks easier up close
The closer we get, the easier it seems.
loose rubble
Scaling loose rubble before the rockband.
on the easy side
On the easy side!
upper talus slopes
Traversing to the upper talus slopes.
molar tower
Molar Tower.
summit block
Making our way to the summit block.
going to the ridge line
Heading to the ridge line for the easier option.
easy-moderate scrambling
Easy-moderate scrambling.
summit ahead
Yippee, the summit is in sight!
andromache and noseeum
Mount Andromache (left) and Noseeum Peak to the right.
at the top
Cataract Peak (left) north-east of us.
summit register
Andrew Nugara's entry.
leaving the top
A great view over Molar Tower's imposing summit block.
back at the crux
Descending the easy-moderate crux.
backtracking
Backtracking the talus slopes with a good view of Mount Hector.
down to the weakness
Rejoined with Charles, we head down to the weakness.
above the weakness
Above the weakness.
straightforward
Straightforward.
nice terrain along the drainage
The terrain skier's right of the drainage is easily negotiable.
molar creek trail
Back on the Molar Creek Trail for a short stint.
gravel flats
Travelling on gravel flats.
deep ford
Fording the creek at the same place.
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