Well Site Mountain GR:914359

elevation: 2,533 m.
height gain: 970 m.
area: Ya Ha Tinda Ranch,AB map 82 O/12-13

Park at the trailhead next to the Bighorn Campground. Walk or bike the main road towards Ya Ha Tinda ranch. When the road heads north along Scalp Creek, follow it a short distance until a good service road dips down heading west to cross the creek; ford the creek. From there, several trails lead to Well Site Trail which runs SW to NE between Stud and Scalp Creeks along the foot of Well Site Mountain. Around 947340, ascend the south-facing slopes of the south-eastern arm of the mountain. The summit plateau is easily gained.

trail map

Useful trail maps are available along the way.
Hike: 5.5 up. Last weekend's sleepover on the mountain was such a delightful experience, I wanted to replicate it. Since I'm not in the habit of doing repeats, I chose an objective I had been saving for this time of the year. There wasn't any information on Well Site Mountain but Google Earth clearly demonstrates good access and a possible easy ascent on a broad treeless ridge; that's all I needed for incentive. I packed my camping gear and left Golden in the afternoon. I spent the night at the trailhead and left the following morning. I followed the well-marked trails to my objective, passing by numerous horses grazing freely. I hiked in little snow following coyote prints for a long time, I didn't feel alone! The south facing ascent slopes were pleasantly open allowing a good view towards Warden Rock, the Front Ranges and Ya Ha Tinda's ranch lands. As the day progressed, clouds moved in, wind increased and visibility greatly reduced. My plan was to sleep at the summit cairn in the wide open. When I arrived at the top, the wind was relentless, I knew I had to build a decent shelter if I was to bivy here. I tried to dislodge frozen rocks on the ground but that was a futile effort so I moved rocks from the cairn to build a windbreak, that wasn't enough to create shelter from the nagging wind. After taking pictures, I changed my plan and retreated to treeline for shelter. I spent a really pleasant evening tucked in my cozy bivy bag. By now it was snowing pretty hard, I guess the decision to descend to treeline was primo after all... I relaxed, wrote stuff in my notebook and enjoyed the elements in perfect zen. During the night, I heard the snow fall on my bivy sac. The next morning, a good 20 cm had fallen! I dug up and packed my gear. Visibility was nil; once oriented, the descent was straightforward and I whooshed my long way back to the truck. At the trailhead, I noticed that the Ya Ha Tinda staff had cleared the windows of my truck to see if there was a person inside; I felt bad for not leaving a note. At the same time, it was nice to see that there's still some caring people out there, kuddos to Ya Ha Tinda staff! The drive out was neat, first tracks in deep snow and chased by Bighorn Sheep that would have licked the salt off my truck all day long if I had stopped for that long. I love that area.

objective in sight

After walking along the road beyong the trailhead, I come to a sign with the objective on its right.

service road

I continued along the road towards Ya Ha Tinda's ranch for a short distance before dipping down on this service road; here, I'm looking back (east).

scalp creek

Crossing frozen Scalp Creek.

heading to well site trai

Following a service road towards the trail that skirts the mountain and runs SW to NE between Stud and Scalp Creeks.

on well site trail

On the trail that runs along Well Site Mountain to an old well site, go figure...

south facing slopes

Before reaching the old well site, I ascend the south-facing open slopes.

charred trees

Charred trees allow views along the way.

summir ridge ahead

The summit ridge is in sight.

poor weather moves in

Poor weather in moving in rather fast.

ya ha tinda ranch lands

View over Ya Ha Tinda ranch lands.

losing visibility

Losing visibility to the west.

south eastern arm

Cresting over the south-eastern arm of the mountain.

heading to the highpoint

Making my way to the highpoint on the very broad summit plateau.

visibility for a brief moment

A brief moment of visibility south-west of me, Warden Rock in the center.

easy walking

Very easy walking on the summit plateau.

looking back

Looking back.

nearing the summit cairn

The summit cairn stands out on this otherwise featureless horizon.

not much view

Not much of a view but still a pleasant day out.

making a windbreak

Rocks are frozen to the ground so I reshaped the cairn to make a windbreak; this was a futile effort, won't be spending the night here...

starts to snow

It starts to snow and the weather system is creeping over to the east.

retracing my steps

Retracing my steps.

reduced visibility

Visibilty is reduced to the east now but I can still make out the ranch lands.

choosing a camp

Choosing a spot to spend the night just below.

next morning

The next morning, having to dig up my gear under 20 cm of freshies.

still snowing

Still snowing, no visibility but I'm heading down a no-brainer route.

not like yesterday

The difference a day can make!

back on the trail

Back on Well Site Trail.

deep snow

Plowing through deep snow.

south scalp creek

Taking the South Scalp Trail for my return.

uneventful return

Long, straight and uneventful, plenty of time to reflect...


Horses greet me near Ya Ha Tinda ranch.

driving in freshies

The truck also gets first tracks on the way out.

bighorn sheep chasing me

Bighorn Sheep run towards the truck as I stop to take pictures.

lick lick lick

I'm surrounded, lick, lick, lick, lick, lick.....
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