Tangle Ridge

Elevation: 3000 m
Elevation Gain: 1100 m
Tangle Ridge was named by Mary Schaffer in 1907 as a result of the difficulties that many early parties encountered while attempting to descend Tangle Creek to the north. Despite the name, the ascent of the ridge itself is straightforward and, almost entirely, above the tree line making it an ideal location from which to take in the views of the surrounding icefields.
My Ascents:
August 4 2013, August 4 2011, September 18 2010.

After a long birthday outing up Sunwapta Peak with Brianne the day prior, the plan was to enjoy a slightly smaller outing up Tangle Ridge with my parents to celebrate Gord’s 65th birthday. I woke up before the rest of the family and was discouraged to see that our base camp for the night (the Beauty Creek hostel) was surrounded by thick fog. After making our lunch, everyone else was still asleep and I was getting bored so I decided to take my car for a quick scouting trip up to the Columbia Icefields (15 km from the hostel) to check on the weather up there. I was ecstatic to find that the clouds were low-lying and that the skies above the Columbia Icefields were blue and clear! When I returned to the hostel, I found Brianne and my parents wondering where the hell I was! With my condition update in hand, we set out to make our way up one of the finest viewpoints in the Rockies. Brianne’s legs may have been a “little” sore from the previous day (1735 vertical meters) but fortunately for me she’s tough and soldiered through the pain!

Clear skies over the Columbia Icefields on my “scouting trip”! While this photo was taken, everyone else was still asleep 15 km away in the fog. They were somewhat concerned when they woke up and my car was gone!

Early views of Mounts Athabasca and Andromeda beyond a hillside full of Indian Paintbrushes on the 30 minute approach hike from Tangle Falls.

Crossing Tangle Creek 30 minutes into the hike. The creek is quite small and there are obvious cairns on the opposite bank where the correct crossing is.

As the trees thin on ascent, the views become progressively more spectacular! The Kitchener (left) and Stutfield (right) Glaciers really steal the show.

My mom enjoying the views and her new “stylish” hat.

It’s important to always stop and take the time to “smell the flowers” (although they’re not roses). These stops are especially helpful if your legs are killing you from the previous day’s endeavor!

Although Brianne’s legs were hurting and she started slow, she put on the afterburners once we were above the trees and back on scree (the deployment of the afterburners also, coincidentally, occurred shortly after she treated herself to a couple of Advils). From this point on, there was no keeping up with her! The small speck on the ridge ahead is Gord (who was also racing to the top to give himself more time to take 1 million photos). Brianne actually managed to catch up to him by the summit while my mom and I were left in her dust!

When my mom and I finally did summit, this is what we found. Looks like a country club for Goats at 3000 m elevation!

The absolutely spectacular summit panorama from the top of Tangle Ridge. From left to right: Nigel Peak, Mount Saskatchewan (distant), Mount Wilcox, Mount Athabasca, Mount Andromeda, Snowdome, Mount Kitchener, Mount Columbia (distant), North Twin (distant), Mount Stutfield, Mount Cromwell, Mount Engelhard, Mount Alberta, Mount Wooley, Diadem Peak, Mount GEC, Mount Smythe, Gong Peak and Mount MacGuire. Click to see larger.

The view towards Wilcox Pass.

A closer view of Mounts Wilcox, Athabasca and Andromeda above the long icy tongue of the Athabasca Glacier.

Snow coaches .making their way up the glacier like Brianne and I did 2 days earlier on our drive out.

Mount Athabasca and the heavily crevassed and inappropriately named “Little A” Glacier. I suppose it is getting more little all the time unfortunately.

Horn-shaped Nigel Peak looms atop Wilcox Lake and looks like quite an undertaking from this angle. Hard to believe I was walking up the right-hand edge of the summit snow field around this time a couple of years earlier. In the distance, massive Mounts Cirrus and Wilson can be seen on either side of Nigel (left and right, respectively).

Beyond Wilcox Pass, tiny Parker Ridge lies in front of giants like Amery (left), Saskatchewan (center-right) and Athabasca (right).

Re-enacting our fight from the previous day on Sunwapta Peak in front of Sunwapta Peak!

Panorama overlooking the small glacier that abuts the north side of Tangle Ridge. The Sunwapta River winds its way to Jasper at the foot of Sunwapta Peak. Click to see larger.

That’s a LOT of scree.

The highway north towards Jasper.

The Winston Churchill Range beyond the northern extreme of Tangle Ridge. Mount Alberta stuck in the clouds...

Mounts GEC and Smythe dominated the view from Sunwapta yesterday.

We finally caught up with the birthday boy – and even convinced him to put down his camera for long enough to take a photo of him! Happy birthday Old Man!

Mount Alberta finally emerges from the clouds.

A distant (and overcast) Mount Brazeau.

It might look like I’m giving her a piggy-back but really, I’m just helping her stretch out her quads! ;)
The view of the Columbia Icefields behind the tomfoolery is alright too.

A thick ice sheet on the Snowdome – the World’s only triple continental divide.

Mount Columbia above the Kitchener and Stutfield Icefalls.

Mighty Mount Columbia (3747 m).

The South and North Twins (5th and 3rd highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies, respectively).

Enjoying the spectacular view together. Thanks for the great birthday weekend Brianne!

Unfortunately, the construction of the new Brewster’s "Glacier Skywalk” below somewhat mars the view while simultaneously backing up traffic. Fortunately, by the time that we got down, we missed “rush hour”!

Family photo before heading back down.

Heading back down. Faced with a long drive back to Calgary, Brianne and I bid adieu to my parents and high-tailed it down the mountain.

Brianne waves to distract any ghosts which may or may not be present in this abandoned cabin in the woods (she was supposed to be making a spooky hand gesture...).

The reward for a strenuous weekend bagging peaks – amazingly overpriced ($20/six pack) Molson Canadian mass-brewed domestic swill from Saskatchewan Crossing; at least it was cold and came in a classy brown bag!