Mount Baldy South Summit
Elevation: 2192 m
Elevation Gain: 770 m
Mount Baldy was officially named in 1984. Prior to bearing its now official name, Mount Baldy was also referred to as Bald Mountain, Old Baldy, Barrier Mountain and Sleeping Buffalo Mountain. Regardless of what it’s called, Mount Baldy lies near the site of an old WWII prisoner of war (POW) camp. The camp was used to house approximately 200 POWs, mainly of German descent. In the Canadian spirit, prisoners were occasionally allowed to climb Mount Baldy, provided that they signed a document promising to return to the prison camp following their ascent. The site of the former POW camp is now occupied by a University of Calgary Sciences research facility. The Mount Baldy massif is made up of 3 distinct summits: the north (true) and south summits are of approximately equal height while the more technical west summit is slightly lower.
January 30 2015.
GPS Track: Mount Baldy South Summit
On May 21 2012, Crux the
dog puppy bagged his first peak at the tender age of 3 months. Since then, he’s become quite the mountaineering canine, adding his paw prints to summit registers all about the Canadian Rockies. On January 30 2015, Crux the dog and I made the (now familiar) drive west to Kananaskis Country with the aim of reaching his milestone 50th different summit.
With our eyes on the south summit of Mount Baldy, Crux and I got off to an alpine start under clear starry skies.
Having each hiked up the viewless Baldy Pass trail 3 times prior, Crux and I opted to make the 4 km approach via headlamp this time in hopes of being well above the tree line in time to enjoy an unobscured view of the sunrise (this was all Crux’s idea, I swear).
Making good time up the slippery trail, we reached Baldy Pass in time to see Midnight Peak in the early dawn light.
Once at Baldy Pass, we paused for a brief rest to enjoy the view to the west before continuing upwards along Mount Baldy’s wind-scoured south ridge.
Sunrise on the south ridge of Mount Baldy! The sun finally creeps above the horizon casting its golden glow on Midnight Peak (left), Mount Baldy (right) and the larger peaks of the Kananaskis Range (distant center). Click to see larger.
Looking back along Baldy’s south ridge towards a sun-kissed Midnight Peak.
Crux at the crux! Shortly after sunrise, we reached the crux of the ascent, a block of rock which rises up steeply above the ridge below. We briefly investigated a well-travelled ledge to the climber’s right before backing off as it became dangerously exposed. After putzing around a moment, we tackled the block head-on, ascending directly behind the largest tree at its base. Following a couple of “paws-on” moderate moves, we found ourselves back on easy terrain above where we paused to more fully enjoy the sunrise.
The foothills cast long shadows over the prairies to the east in the early morning light.
Crux enjoys the sun’s warmth as the peaks of the Kananaskis Range are bathed in alpenglow beyond.
Without a doubt a view worth losing sleep for! From left to right: the Fortress, Wasootch Peak, Mount Kidd, Mount Galatea, Mount Bogart, Ribbon Peak, Olympic Summit (and Nakiska), Mount Sparrowhawk, Wind Mountain, Mount Allan, Mount Collembola, Mount Lougheed and Mount Lorette.
The sheer east faces of Mount Kidd (left), Mount Galatea (center left) and pyramidal Mount Bogart (center right) dominate the view.
Continuing upwards along the south ridge, the 3 peaks of the Baldy massif finally come into view (west summit to the left, south summit in the center and the north summit on the right). Distant Mount Yamnuska, Association Peak and Black Rock Mountain can be seen beyond the north summit of Mount Baldy to the right.
Crux enjoys some fine scrambling en route to his 50th summit!
Skogan Peak makes a dramatic appearance beyond the West Baldy – South Baldy col. Near the south summit, Crux and I followed paths in the scree to the climber’s left as the south ridge began to narrow.
Enjoying a spectacular panorama as we march up the final, gentle scree slopes towards the summit. Click to see larger.
Success! Crux and I enjoy sunshine and spectacular views from the summit of his 50th peak! It’s tough to tell who’s prouder in this photo!
Looking beyond South Baldy’s towering summit cairn: West Baldy casts an impressive shadow upon Barrier Lake in the Kananaskis valley below while Mount Lorette (left), Skogan Peak (center) and Mount McGillivray (right) enjoy the limelight beyond.
Now that’s a good boy! You can’t tell from the photo but he’s revelling in his accomplishment.
Thin ice on Barrier Lake below provides an indication of just how pleasant this January was.
Looking beyond Mount Lorette (center left) and Skogan Peak (right) towards Mount Sparrowhawk (left), Wind Mountain (center left) and the remaining 3 peaks of the Mount Lougheed massif.
The north summit of Mount Baldy (and its usual southwest ridge ascent route in profile) above Barrier Lake. Grotto Mountain (left), Mount Fable (center) and the peaks of the Ghost region are easily recognized beyond.
Although South Baldy and North Baldy are similar in height, I suspect that South Baldy’s massive summit cairn may actually make it the true summit! Regardless, both peaks tower above the foothills, prairies and clear cuts :-( to the east. Click to see larger.
Looking out over the vast open expanse to the east.
A spectacular Front Range panorama on an equally spectacular January morning! Click to see larger.
Midnight Peak (left) and West Baldy (right) sit in the shade and sun, respectively while dozens of familiar peaks line the horizon beyond. From left to right: Mount Bryant (distant), Midday Peak, Midnight Peak, Fisher Peak, Mount McDougall, pointy Old Baldy Mountain, Kananaskis Peak, Mount Inflexible (distant), Mount James Walker (distant), Wasootch Peak, the Fortress (distant), Mount Kidd, Mount Galatea (distant), pyramidal Mount Bogart, the Nakiska ski area (directly behind West Baldy) and Mount Sparrowhawk. Click to see larger.
High noon over Midnight Peak.
Racing my camera’s 10 second timer for a summit selfie; this time I won!
Crux and I enjoy a surprisingly comfortable summit seat. Thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures and uncharacteristically calm winds (note my bare hands), we lounged about in the sun for over an hour savouring the view and Crux’s accomplishment.
The dog of the hour! He’s not quite 3 years old yet but Mr. Crux sure has come a long way!
After a long and pleasant summit stay, we begrudgingly began to make our way back down the south ridge towards Baldy Pass (visible in the upper right of the photo). The ridge’s crux block is made quite obvious by the dramatic steepening of the terrain in its vicinity. This is definitely not your average dog walk…
Enjoying the last spectacular views towards the Kananaskis Range and the Nakiska ski resort before returning to Baldy Pass and making our way back towards the highway along the icy, unremarkable trail.
A special Crux treat 50 summits in the making!!! Mouseover to see a very happy mountain dog!