Ishbel, Mount

elevation:  2,908 m.
height gain: 1,625 m.
area: Banff/Bow Valley,AB
map 82 O/4-5

Ref: Vern's Explo8ion website

mount ishbel

Mount Ishbel from Hillside Meadows.
Scramble: RT 14.0;7.5 up. The first weekend back from Colorado/Nanaimo saw me busy with a welding project and a scramble. Marta contacted me during the week and suggested we attempt Mount Ishbel. Gotta admit that I was apprehensive about that objective, I honestly didn't think I had the skills to make it to the top after reading existing trip reports. However, Marta didn't seem to care whether we got turned around so I decided to give it a go. We met at Castle Junction and drove to Hillside Meadows. We didn't get an early start so we hiked at a good pace without many stops. At the cliff face, we went climber's left and aimed for a far saddle on the west side of the mountain. Once on the saddle, we realized it wasn't the proper way. We turned around feeling a bit defeated right from the start, time was of the essence and we had already lost an hour. As we backtracked, we scanned the cliff face for a weakness; that's when we noticed a gully that seemed to give way to the ridge proper. The straightforward gully delivered us on Ishbel's south ridge. We followed the ridge crest all the way to a highpoint. From there, a downclimb along the ridge would have been possible partway but a bluff clearly barred the way to easier terrain below. We elected to descend the eastern slopes until we could circumvent the bluff; we then climbed back to the ridge following an easy grassy scree slope. Once on the ridge, we basically stayed on the crest. The ridge narrows in places but it is easily negotiable with good holds and foot placements. After some fine ridge scrambling, we reached tougher terrain about 700 meters from the summit. At that point, we looked for the bypass ramp climber's right. We were unsure where we should downclimb to connect to it, we just went on a whim and descended sketchy terrain. Luckily, our chosen route appeared promising. We carried on and came across a cairn shortly thereafter. The ramp is narrow and exposed in places. The scrambling isn't difficult but we agreed that route finding challenges paired with "no slip zones" make this objective a difficult one! As we proceeded on the continuous ramp, we saw more cairns; it's hard to believe this ledge leads almost all the way to the top. When we reached the end of the ramp, a short scramble took us to the summit. It wasn't as windy as I thought it would be considering the ridge crest lower down had been quite breezy. Marta and I were ecstatic, we didn't expect to be successful; we figured it was more of an exploratory trip due to our late start and detour. I was proud of myself, I didn't think I could attain this summit. I was also sad, this marked my last scramble in the Rockies for an undetermined amount of time. We enjoy the view and the feat before carefully backtracking. We followed the numerous flagging tapes we left along the way, this took thinking and error out of the equation. We retrieved our flags and made it onto the ridge crest without mishap. I did drop a pole down the abyss but it was a fair trade. Walking the narrow ridge was unnerving the second time around, the wind gusts had increased dramatically. We reached treeline and flatter terrain before having to pull out our headlamps. All and all, this was a fabulous scramble with Marta. Hoping to see you all soon; happy and safe scrambling, over and out!!

ascending light timber

Ascending light timbered slopes.


Sidehilling towards the mountain on a crude trail.

overshot gully

We overshot the ascent gully by aiming for the saddle in the middle.

ascent gully

After backtracking and looking carefully, we found the ascent gully.

south ridge

The south ridge comes into view.


Marta poses on a highpoint before dropping down the eastern aspect to avoid difficulties.

looking back

Looking back at the highpoint and the diversion.

moderate scrambling

The ascent ridge is straightforward moderate scrambling.

pleasant scrambling

Pleasant scrambling.

following ridge crest

Roughly following the ridge crest.

sheer slab

A sheer slab on a narrow section offers good picture opportunities.

tougher terrain

Nearing tougher terrain we wonder where the infamous ramp is.

looking for ramp

We decide to look for it at this point.

not obvious

Not obvious at first.

good challenge

We're embracing the challenge.

cairns on route

We find the odd cairns along our chosen route.

looking back

Looking back.

becoming more obvious

Further along, it becomes clear we're on the infamous ramp.

more of the ramp

More of the ramp.

end of ramp

At the end of the ramp, only a short scramble up the summit block remains.

kuddos to us

Oh yeah, kuddos to us!!

view south

View south towards the town of Banff.

view west

Pilot Mountain west of us.

view north

Northern view.

enjoying the top

Enjoying my last scramble for a long while.

leaving the top

Leaving the top.

carefully backtracking

Carefully following the ramp.

following flags

Backtracking made easy by our deligent flag placements.

looking back

Looking back.

somewhat exposed

Somewhat exposed in places.

no slip zones

Scrambling is never too difficult but grants "no slip zones".

looking back again

Looking back again, ummmm....

nearing ridge crest

Nearing the exit onto the south ridge.

here we go

Here we go!

aesthetic ridge

Aesthetic ridge.

fun scrambling

Fun scrambling.

sheer slab

Along the sheer slab.

circumventing difficulties

Dropping off the ridge to circumvent difficulties and climb back to the highpoint (right center).

traverse ahead

Our traverse ahead on the eastern aspect.

remaining ridge

The remainder of the ridge from the highpoint.

down gully

Down the approach gully.

back at treeline

Back at treeline.


Voila! Great "send off" with my friend Marta.
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