Pharaoh Peaks (Southmost Peak)

elevation: 2,713 m.
height gain: 1,900 m.
area: Banff/Bow Valley,AB
map 82 O/4

Ref: Matthew Hobb's

**I chose to go via Healy Pass, Sunshine Village**

dim light of dawn

The dim light of dawn as I near Healy Pass.
Scramble: RT 14.0; 6.25 up. Just back from Colorado, I was keen to keep hiking and being solo didn't deter me from doing long trips. I remembered reading Matthew's trip report on Pharaoh Peaks last year; up until now, I hadn't really given that objective much thought. It dawned on me that Sunshine Meadows has a healthy population of larch trees and that this time of the year would be a very good time to go for a visit, I decided to approach the objective from Healy Pass instead of Redearth Creek. Another factor that appealed to me was that I could easily follow the good trail by headlight. I devised a plan. Reaching the summit was only one of the goals of this trip; I also wanted to enjoy the yellow larch trees, visit the lakes and time my ascent to reach Healy Pass with the sunrise. I spent the night at the gondola base with WIFI and good tunes, I have gotten very accustomed to sleeping in my truck and thoroughly enjoy it! The following morning I got an early start by headlight. I made a lot of noise along the way, there was a warning about aggressive wolves at the trailhead. The dim light of dawn was upon me as I reached treeline and the alpine meadows. I gained Healy Pass about half an hour before the actual sunrise; I ate my breakfast, drank tea and waited. I witnessed the clouds' colour change from pink to orange. It was just perfect, I took so many pictures that my fingers became numb from the cold. Then came the moment I had been waiting for, the sunrise. I was standing at the best location to capture the glory of this fabulous sight. I snapped countless pictures; of all these, for sure one would reflect the beauty of this instant. After the sunrise, I resumed my trek on the shady side of the pass. It was pretty fast reaching valley bottom, I then continued on the good trail past Egypt cabin towards Whistling Pass. To my delight, I hiked through more larch trees. The trail circumvents the southmost peak of Pharaoh's 3-peak cluster and bypasses the lakes. I left the trail once I had the south slopes of the tallest (southmost) Pharaoh in sight. The talus slopes were loose and snow covered, not the most pleasant but luckily not that long either. The weather was deteriorating and the wind was bitterly cold. When I reached the summit, I took some pictures but I wasn't really able to stay to enjoy the view. I descended back to treeline and took a break sheltered in the trees. On my way back, I visited Scarab and Egypt Lakes; the short side trips were definitely worthwhile. It started to snow by now, I climbed back up to Healy Pass feeling contempt about this beautiful hike. From the pass on down, I was in auto-pilot mode. I reached the truck before dark. I really liked this trip, it didn't feel that long, maybe because most of the travelling is on really good trails accompanied by lovely scenery!

lovely trail

Lovely trail among yellow larch trees, I love it.

pink-coloured clouds

The pink-coloured clouds over The Monarch are a prelude to the sunrise.

orange hue

An orange hue appears in the pink clouds as the sun's about to crest over the mountains.

pink clouds change to orange

To the east, pink clouds change to a vibrant orange colour.


Alpenglow on Scarab-Haiduk Peaks (left) and Mount Ball (right) with Pharaoh Peaks in the forefront.

sun is about to crest

The sun is about to crest over Eagle Mountain AKA Goat's eye.


The instant I have been waiting for, simply glorious.

sunlight gives a warm glow

The sunlight gives the yellow larch trees an incredible warm glow.

descending after the show

After the show, I descend towards Egypt Lake and Pharaoh Peaks.

valley bottom

Valley bottom with the highest of the three Pharaoh Peaks on the right.

following the trail to whistling pass

The trail to Whistling Pass circumvents Pharaoh Peak's south-eastern aspect.

scarab peak ahead

Scarab Peak and Scarab Lake lie ahead.

leaving the trail behind

At this point I decided to veer off the popular trail and ascend the south slopes.

hardy larch trees

Larch trees growing on windswept rocky slopes.

mummy lake is revealed

Higher up, Mummy Lake is revealed on a plateau above Scarab Lake.

on the summit

On the summit with The Monarch to the south-east.

north-eastern view

North-eastern view with Pilot Mountain (far left), Mount Brett (left) and Mount Bourgeau on the right.

view north

Storm Mountain (left) and Copper Mountain (right) to the north.

north-western view

To the north-west, beyond the other two peaks of Pharaoh,
Mount Ball (3,311 m.) is shrouded by cloud.

heading down

Heading down with Whistling Pass ahead and Haiduk Peak under cloud cover.

beauty of the lakes

My pictures don't do justice to the beauty of the lakes flanked by these impressive mountains.

contrast of colours

The contrast with the colours of the lakes and larch trees is amazing.

nice break

Taking a nice break sheltered in the trees.

larch trees steal the show

Larch trees steal the show at this time of the year.

side trip to scarab lake

A short side trail leads to Scarab Lake.

nice place for a picnic

Nice place for a picnic on a warm day.

egypt lake

Another quick side trip leads to Egypt Lake, by now it's snowing.

looking back

Looking back at Scarab Peak and the southmost Pharaoh Peak.

going back up healy pass

Retracing my way back up to Healy Pass.

beautiful larch

Beautiful Larch.

last glimpse

Last glimpse from Healy Pass, weather has deteriorated.

fall scenery

Yellow fall scenery with The Monarch in the background.

gondola base

Back at the gondola base!
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