Thursday, March 30, 2017

GR378107 "Mt. Roberta" - Solo ski ascent via west slopes

Great solo ski day up the small and obscure “Mount Roberta” (GR378107), northern most end of the Elk Range, just north of “Mt. Pocaterra”.  There seemed to be a furry of the famous local scramblers heading up this minor summit in 2013 to about 2015.  Seems like a great shoulder season or winter trip that would provide a great view to the southern end of the Opal Range; views of the Opals, count me in.

Seeking an easy solo ski trip I thought it was time to check out this little summit. The standard approach trail off of highway 40 is not accessible by car from December 1 to June 15. I have skied up the closed highway many times over the years, so I thought I would an approach via the network of crosscountry ski trail in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, near the Kananaskis Lakes, would be a nice change.  In the end I think both approaches are likely equal in time and distance.

View up Packers ski trail with "Mt. Roberta" in the background.

For my trip, I parked at the main Boulton Creek parking lot and skied to the “Packers” trail, then connected onto the “Pocaterra” trail.  I spied the western slopes of Mt. Roberta looking for the lowest angled slope with the thinnest trees, then end up at the intersection of Pocaterra and Whiskey Jack.  I think I end up too far south, so I decided to use this clear landmark as my exit.  I skied up slope from here with a variety of thick and thin trees, with mostly a solid and supportive sun crust and no ski penetration, with the rare bottomless facetted uphill slog.  The upslope was a bit of a grind, but eventually reached tree line and open wind blown scree.  When I reached the summit ridge line, turns out I was quite a bit south, and higher, than the summit of Mt. Roberta.

Typical terrain that I ascended and descended on the west slopes.

At tree line, scree hike to summit ridge.

From my ridge position, view downhill to summit.

Great views of the southern Opal Range summits, Elpoca Mtn. shows it prominence in this view.

First big bump before main summit bump.

Summit bump, Elpoca Mtn. behind on right.

View up ridge to "Mt. Pocaterra".
I bet a traverse from highway 40 to Roberta, Mt. Pocaterra to Mt. Tyrwhitt would go.

Cat's Ear's (north and south towers)

The mighty "South Schlee"

Old guy on little summit, Elpoca Mtn. behind.

Quick boot run , downhill mostly, to the northern end of the ridge and the summit of Mt. Roberta.  I was keen to see the old 1949 summit register and old summit note, but it was gone.  I carefully disassembled the summit cairn and the only thing I found was an old mason jar with a rusted out lid.

Used without permission from Vern Dewit.

Rebuilt the cairn and ran back to my skis, an interesting and challenging tree ski back to the trails. I skied down the Whisky Jack trail and it was the right choice, mostly downhill and very direct back to the parking lot.  Interesting, my time to reach the summit, and disassemble/rebuild the summit cairn, was just under 6 hours. Time from summit to car, under 2 hours. Got to love ski descents.

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