Mount Ishbel

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Mount Ishbel
  • Location: Banff National Park (Townsite)
  • Activity: Scrambling
  • Height: 2,908 m (9,541 ft)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,625 m (5,332 ft)
  • Distance: 13.5 km / Loop (8.4 mi)
  • Avg Steepness: 13.5°
  • Estimated Time: 9-12 hrs
  • Technicality: Expert.2c
  • Fitness Level: Athlete
This is the one, the crazy ridge walker, Mark Evans wanted to do who lives in UK now. I hope he won’t be too jealous about this.

Approach:
We parked at Hillsdale Meadow Exhibit and went straight into bush. Bushwhacking was light and easy, only the problem we had was dealing with fallen trees. We were only aiming the south ridge of Ishbel, but unintentionally we were following Ranger Creek somewhat (We didn’t see the creek though). It’s only roughly 2 km so shouldn’t be too long.

Ridge:
At waypoint “Left Off Ridge” (GR859777) , we hit the first rock face (page 4). We went scrambler’s left walking along the rock face on a trail. This trail lost little bit of elevation and at the lowest point, we find a weakness in this rock face. We scrambled up the rock face and continued to scrambler’s left.

Eventually we could get up on top of the main ridge at waypoint Right Off Ridge 1 (GR859781). Here immediately we had to get off the ridge on scrambler’s right (east). For 1 km we stayed off the ridge. Originally we did it so because we saw elevation loss coming ahead, but by doing so we bypassed the crux which Nugara’s TR describes. This reduced the difficulty of this ridge from hardcore scrambling/alpine down to difficult scrambling. We regained the ridge at GR859786 (page 6). From this point on, there were lots of exposed/narrow/ridge scrambling for a while.

At the waypoint “Right Off Ridge 2”, which is roughly 200 m below the summit, the ridge looked more than scramble (page 14). As described in other trip reports, we got off the ridge, went scrambler’s right (east) again and used gravel/dirt ledge (page 15).

At the end of this ledge we scrambled straight up to the summit. It should be about 50 m in elevation from here. Ali’s and my GPS agreed that altitude at the summit was about 2870 m while official height is 2908 m. I think the official height is wrong.

Descent:
We went back the same way until the waypoint “Left Off Ridge”. Then we find our way down rather on SW slope via burned tree area to the meadow. Again just like ascent route, we still had to deal with dead trees. Also there were few rockbands on the way, we had to go left and right to avoid these. Personally I am not sure which route was better, ascent or descent route. I recommend the ascent route because at least it’s not as steep.

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Approaching from south ridge.

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Castle and Helena Ridge.

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The first rock face ahead. Mouseover for route.

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Unlike yesterday, weather looked promisingly nice and yes it was!

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Bypassing crux by staying off the ridge.

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Here comes the fun ridge!

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Summit is still farrrrrrrrrrr
(Photo By Ali Shariat)

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This is typical here.

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I don't know where Ali took this picture but it's cool!
(Photo By Ali Shariat)

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Pretty valley on east side.

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Typical typical.

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It was funny that rocks can be solid at some places, loose at other places… I had to be careful.

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Off the ridge point. Go right and use ledge. Mouseover for route line.

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I'm sure whoever discovered this route must have felt very doubtful using this ledge.

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At the summit. Ali scrambling up the last section.

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Picture time!

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Why these peaks don't have names!

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The snowy one is Mount Ball. Beautiful peak it is.

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Group pic. From left: me, Ali, and Vern.
(Photo By Ali Shariat)

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Descending carefully not to slide with loose rocks.

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Typical!

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See this is sooooooo typical here!

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The blue sky was killing me! Perfect day for photo!

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Aiming the meadow.

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Very unusual to see such green in the Rockies.

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Finally at the meadow.


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