N 52° 02.817 W 116° 29.424
BCP498 - Landslide Ridge
Joci and I made the long drive up the Icefields Parkway and arrived near the trailhead area just before day break. Our goal was to do Whirlpool Ridge using a counter clockwise approach, with the only question remaining - which trail to take? We decided upon the Kinglet Lake Trail which is well marked along the David Thompson, but has few details listed in any trip reports.
The Kinglet Lake Trail has a number of well designed switchbacks which make the trip a pleasant experience. About two to three kilometres up the trail you run into the junction for Kinglet Lake and Tuff Puff. We decided to take Tuff Puff due to the greater potential for elevation loss on the Kinglet Lake Trail. The Tuff Puff Trail took us directly to a long high ridge at the north end of the valley.
We followed the ridge at the end of the Tuff Puff Trail west as it directly connects to the Whirlpool Ridge from the NE. The going was a nice pleasant hike along a ridge which afforded excellent views of the familiar peaks to the south, and the lesser explored country to the north. As we continued west we headed SW to scramble through a rock band and access a huge scree field running just south of the main ridge. As we headed NW towards the ridge top several options presented themselves. We recognized that you can't take on the north summit of Whirlpool with the lingering snow and without mountaineering gear. So we made our way almost directly west towards the N-S running ridge and spotted a steep gulley directly opposite a huge square piece of black rock leading to the ridge top. The going up through the gulley seemed at first gentle, but towards the top was pretty steep. The good thing about the gulley were the large number of spots for good foot and hand holds - terrific scrambling.
Once on the ridge top we were probably less than 400 metres from the Whirlpool North Summit, but we had little interest in summit bagging as we had a brass cap to find!
We quickly found our way down to the cap site which is located on the edge of the ridge - with the marker cemented into rock. Surrounding the marker is a broad flat plateau perfect for landing a visitors helicopter. After the usual pictures and lunch we headed down Whirlpool Ridge to the David Thompson Highway.
Heading down the ridge offers some interesting scrambling - across steeply tilted rock slabs; down climbing a few ledges; finding your way around the odd small cliff face; and the never ending - down. After having gone down Whirlpool Ridge, the approach straight up the ridge - would be brutal - lots of elevation (loss / gain) which never seems to end.
At the south end of Whirlpool Ridge there is an amazingly huge cairn with a summit register to mark this fine location. Someone had taken the summit register out of the container, so Joci and I left a few pages for the next few visitors to record their visit as well.
The huge elevation loss continued down from the south summit with abundant loose scree, slabs, and numerous cliffs along the way. We arrived back at the highway after dark and enjoyed the short two kilometre hike back to the car at the Kinglet Lake Trailhead.
Simply a fine day on the trail with good company and conversation. My track log showed a round trip distance of just under 18 kilometres with over 1500 metres of elevation gain. Thanks OFTH for this challenging cap location with quite the view!