Mt. Richardson

Climbed: August, 1994.
Elevation: 3086 m = 10,122'
Elev. gain: 1381 m = 4,530'
Ascent time:6 hours (long approach), 3 hours from Hidden Lake
Descent time:4 hours, 1.5 from summit to Hidden Lake
Difficulty: Easy scrambling/strenuous hiking up S slopes.
Location: Banff NP
Trail head: Fish Creek Parking area on Temple Lodge Road
Topo map: 82 N/8 Lake Louise

halfway hut
Follow the well graded hiking trail to Hidden Lake. See "Boulder Pass - Skoki Valley" in theCanadian Rockies Trail Guide for a detailed description. A mountain bike for the first4 km is a viable option as the Temple Lodge road is a real drudgery to hike in and out.After the lodge is passed, the trail reverts to a wide, well graded footpath (bikes not allowed).At the 7.1 km mark, the halfway hut marks a lefthand turnoff to Hidden Lake. The halfway hutwas used during the early days of skiing in the Canadian Rockies as accomodations for skierstravelling from the Lake Louise train station to Skoki Lodge. Now it is mainly used by hikers.

lower slopeOnce you reach Hidden Lake (I reached it at 12:30pm, 3 hours from the trail head), traverse to theleft side of the lake to find a crumbling slope of rubble. There are many options at thispoint to reach the first ridge. Some hand holds will be required here -- your line willdetermine the difficulty.

upper slopeOnce you reach the ridge, an imposing line of rock along the ridge is easily skirted bytraversing the backside to reach the upper scree slopes. Be wary of the cornices along theridge while you take time to look down at Hidden Lake.

Ptarmigan PeakAs you approach the summit ridge, you get an excellent view of Ptarmigan Peak (3059m/10,033'),a moderate scramble with brief exposure near the top. This is a potential candidate for myfuture excursion to this region.

Pika Peak ColYou also get a chance to study the Mt. Richardson/Pika Peak Col if you feel inclined to attempt the traverse to the western slopes of Pika Peak (3033m/9948'). Note however, this isa difficult scramble and will no doubt require an ice axe and possibly crampons as well.

CK on SummitAt 3:30pm, three hours from Hidden Lake, I reached the summit. A large cairn (5'+)marks the summit but no register was found. Be careful of cornices and the glacier onthe north side.

summit viewYou can traverse the summit ridge to the west for another 10 to 15 minutes, dippingslightly from the summit cairn. At this point, some difficult terrain further alongstops the traverse. You also get a full view of Merlin Lake and Castilleja Lake on thenorth side, thousands of feet below you. These lakes probably don't receive many visitorsas the trail from Skoki Lodge is only partly completed and requires route finding skillsto complete the hike.

Wall of JerichoOff to the northeast, you can see an impressive free-standing wall of rock known as theWall of Jericho. A much better angle would be realized by ascending Pika Peak to the east.

upper descent viewAt 4:25pm, I left the summit and began my long descent back to the trail head. While I hadencountered quite a few backpackers on the way in, no one else had attempted the summit onthis day. While the descent from Hidden Lake to the trail head is not really demanding, it getsquite monotonous and tiresome after the long trek in and the ascent of Mt. Richardson.Spending overnight at the campsite near Hidden Lake would probably be a better plan. Fortunatelyfor me, about 20 minutes past Temple Lodge, a park maintenance truck came by and gave me aride down to the parking area.


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©1994 All images by Craig Knelsen. All rights reserved.

Created: Mar 15, 1998.  Revised: Nov 12, 2002.