Loaf Mountain

elevation: 2,639 m.
height gain: 1,000 m.
area: Castle Wilderness,AB
map 82 G/1-G/8

Ref: Andrew Nugara's More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies -2nd Edition
gravel road

We hiked the approach on the gravel road but some may choose to bike it.
I had made plans with Zofia, Sonny and Raff to meet in Pincher Creek before our weekend scramble. After my outing on Turtle Mountain, I casually drove to our meet-up place at Leo's Pub and Grill. When I showed up, Raff was already there with Andrew Anugara, Taras Kus and Wietse Bijlsma. Shortly after I arrived, Sonny Bou and Zofia Zgolak showed up with their friends, Asieh Ghodratabadi, Houmaro Kone, Ali Shariat and Dorota Sokolowska; they were going to accompany me tomorrow on Loaf Mountain. Not present at the table was Alison Sekera, she was tied up with family and would join me later at the A&W parking lot. We had a fabulous supper and talked mostly about mountains. I was thrilled to be surrounded by like-minded people for my 50th birthday, celebrating this one was a bit of a shocker... I'm resisting the whole aging process like most and I felt that reaching that milestone propelled me in the "old folk" category... Anyway, after eating decadent chocolate birthday cake, people dispersed. I drove to the A&W and set up for the night. I awoke during the night and had a quick glance outside, Alison was parked next to me, I hadn't even heard her arriving.

Scramble: RT 10.25; 6.0 up. The following morning, everybody met us at A&W and we caravanned to the trailhead. The plan was to ascend the mountain from the south side instead of its northern approach, a recent trip report described favorable snow conditions in the cirque and I was keen to take advantage of that. We started on the gravel road from the gate. We had a good distance to go and I can see why using a bike would cut down on time and effort but hiking the long approach gave us the opportunity to converse along the way. After about an hour and a half, we reached the access snow gully and the fun began. The snow was firm providing good climbing conditions, travel was both fast and pleasant. We reached the cirque in good time and got a fine view of what was coming next. The snow slopes leading to the east ridge are steep, some of us didn't have crampons so the group discussed possible ways up. The angle lessens towards the east side of the cirque, Alison and I picked a snow chute while the rest of the group pushed further east on mixed terrain. We regrouped on the east ridge before dipping down to the saddle that precedes the summit ridge. The weather was fabulously stable and the absence of wind was unusual. I enjoyed the casual ridge walk and the last stretch to the summit on firm snow. Our summit stay was really pleasant, this peak is the highest in the region and offers fine views all around. We regrouped at the top and took countless pictures before backtracking. At the saddle, none of us wanted to climb back up to pick up our ascent lines so we agreed to traverse the cirque's steep slopes until we were comfortable to descend. I picked a line of descent and led the way with Alison in hot pursuit, the snow was perfect for glissading. Sonny led the rest of the group further east and we regrouped at the bottom of the cirque. With everybody now pros at glissading, we carried on down the snow gully embracing every possible bum-slide! ...and that was the end of the fun part... The rest of the hike on the road was all business and uneventful. I was really happy about this trip, everything was primo!

mad max scene

A scene straight out of "Mad Max".

good trail

Continuing past the gravel road on a good trail.

ascent ahead

Our access snow gully comes into view in the middle.

let the fun begin

Finally, let the fun begin!

reaching the cirque

Reaching the cirque.

contemplating our line of ascent

Contemplating our line of ascent.

choosing a continuous snow gully

Alison and I choose the continuous snow gully (left of center).

looking down

Looking down.

upper gully

Upper gully, the snow is firm and the ascent is delightful.

looking back

Looking back at Alison.

objective in sight

The objective is in sight.

view north

Victoria Peak (left) and Pincher Ridge on the right north of us.


Regrouping before tackling the ridge walk and climb to the summit.

alison approves

Alison approves.


Straightforward ascent.

nice cornices

The summit is fringed by nice cornices.

eastern view

Eastern view with Mount Dungarvan (left) and lofty Mount Cleveland in the distance on the right.

western view

Western view.

view south

View south all the way into Montana!

summit picture

Summit picture.
Picture courtesy of Sonny Bou.

kicking rime

Zofia and Alison kicking the rime off the summit stake.
Picture courtesy of Sonny Bou.

leaving the top

Leaving the top after a long stay.

pleasant north-east ridge

Loaf Mountain's pleasant north-east ridge.

easy scrambling

A tiny bit of easy scrambling.

regrouping again

Regrouping before the glissade down.

my chosen descent

My chosen descent.

the group chose a different line

The group will keep traversing further east.

prompting alison

Prompting Alison after my initial slide.

nice line

Nice line!

waiting for alison

Waiting for Alison to commit to the glissade.

there she goes

There she goes!

ascent and descent lines

Alison and I's ascent line and mad glissade.

still glissading

Still glissading below the cirque.

fun is over

Fun is over, it's back to business....
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