2015-09-12 | Northover Ridge | 2816m | 36.4 km | 2125m gain | 9:38 moving 3:19 stopped - 13 hr total. | 1729 TH elev.
Oh this one has been on the books for a while. Probably going back many years before I was even seriously hiking and my main responsibilities were working and kids - a description and photo in Daffern's book piqued my interest. There are a few areas where snow lingers making the window for this route relatively small – August to September, with the middle of that window being ideal (unless you are a mountaineer).
Originally I thought it was only realistic as a backpack but as more people started to day trip it (or trail run it) I decided it was within my abilities for a long day. It was all planned in 2009 as a day ‘flash’ but weather was poor. Peter did it solo the following Monday resulting in the expression “If you do this one without me (pause to ensure undivided attention) I’ll break your f***ing legs” - this gets used sparingly – like for Little Hector. Peter always laughs, but he knows. Next serious attempt was 2011 with Davin, planned as a three day backpack with layovers at Aster Lake and Three Isle lake. Poor weather, snow, and low ceilings stopped us for an extra day at Aster Lake before we bailed in the snow. After that I swore to ‘flash’ it – Aster Lake in cold snowy conditions is a dismal place. Other days have been considered but my desire for clear weather usually scuttled it in favour of other trips. Until today.
An early start on less than three hours of sleep (Mustard’s sendoff party was the night before) had me out the door at 4:15 trying to clear the cobwebs and lingering fuzzy bourbonish and salsa tongue residue (just let that sink in a bit. Yeah. Lovely) I was early in Calgary for our 5am connection. Luck is on our side, good weather but we knew that recent snow still lingered on the route. At the parking area it was obvious that luck was on our side as two trail runners dropping a car gave us a lift between trailheads shaving off 4.5km that links the two. Bonus, and perfect timing! Calm conditions had us enjoying reflections off Upper Kananaskis Lake on the way in. Hidden lake was low but what I was really struck by was how worn in the trail is now compared to 2011. This was evident all the way to Aster Lake, must be seeing increased use. First lunch at Aster Lake in the bright sunshine. Next the climb up towards Warrior Mountain and along the side of toothy Mt Northover. Might be back for Warrior one day, not likely Northover. Once on the ridge the wind was blowing quite briskly so we donned hard-shells for the traverse. It wasn’t all that cold but the wind off the snow made it a bit chilly. The traverse is the hilite and it did not disappoint. At one point we met a group of young men backpacking from the opposite direction. I stepped to the side to let them pass but instead the lead dropped in front of me for a chat. I asked him how it was going, he says “F**K me, I thought we were going camping!!” We watched them cross the narrowest portion safely and then carried on. Another lunch in the lee of the ridge and then the final third of the way out past Three Isle lake was uneventful but enjoyable hiking.
© Clayton Ditzler