Cougar Mountain

elevation: 2,863 m. height gain: 1,250 m.
area: Kananaskis,AB map 82 J/10

Ref: Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies
red bridge

Big Elbow trailhead.
Scramble: RT 10.5; 5.75 up. It seemed there would be no escape from dismal weather this weekend. We planned a trip where the possibility of precipitation was least. Well prepared for some rain, we headed out towards the Kananaskis. We were curious of how much snow remained in the area. As we approached the mountains from Bragg Creek, we gasped at the sight of Banded Peak; there was still lots of snow. It was drizzling, we questioned whether coming this way was the right decision... Still, we continued. The bike ride is a cruise but the weight of the pack pushing my bum on the seat wasn't that pleasant. We ditched our bikes about 1 km ahead of the direct, steeper approach, 502187. Following the light timbered rib is straightforward and we got to treeline fairly quickly. The ascent ridge was free of snow to the upper rockband preceding the false summit. We hiked on the slabs near the ridge crest, that was very nice. The snow around the rockband was soft but somewhat supportive. We easily reached the sub peak and started our plod towards the true summit without hesitation. The rockband midway looks challenging but we found it to be easier than the last bit before the top; the ridge crest is easy moderate at most. As we traveled, we could hear the rumbling of a thunderstorm brewing. The sky was dark east of us, the pace hastened. At the same time, loose avalanches were releasing and roaring to our left. The weather appeared to be skirting us and we remained doused in sun. We enjoyed the scrambling along the ridge crest, sometimes interrupted by a stretch of soft snow. The last rockband provided a good challenge but it is not difficult or exposed. Finally at the top, we relished the view along with unexpected sun, feeling very fortunate. The descent went well, with numerous pauses to take pictures. We took the steep short-cut approach on the way down reaching the Elbow Trail quicker. From there, we casually walked back to where we stashed our bikes. The bike ride back was nearly effortless!
creek flooding

To be expected at this time of the year.

false summit

Cougar Mountain's false summit and short-cut approach.

ascent ridge

Treeline along the ascent ridge.

further along

Further along the ridge.

easy scrambling

Easy scrambling leads to the upper rockband.

contouring the rockband

Contouring climber's left of the rockband.

false summit ahead

False summit ahead.


Goats stare at us curiously from the highpoint.

connecting ridge

The connecting ridge to the true summit.

rockband midway

This rockband can be traversed climber's left to avoid scrambling.

fairly easy

Easy moderate scrambling near the ridge crest.

looking back

Looking back.

almost there

Nearing the true summit.

at the top

Fab coming up to the cairn.

northern view

Outlaw and Banded Peaks to the north.

summit pose

Posing at the top.

leaving the top

On our way down.

moderate scrambling

Looking back at some moderate scrambling preceding the top.

eastern view

Eastern view.

quick break

A quick break on the connecting ridge.

neat picture

A neat view onto the ridge.

rockband midway

Another glimpse at the rockband midway on the summit ridge.

more scrambling

More scrambling.

cougar mountain

Cougar Mountain is an enjoyable scramble.

leaving the false summit

Leaving the false summit.

elbow trail is visible

The Big Elbow Trail is visible in the valley.

short-cut approach

View of the short-cut approach from treeline.
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