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An Unpleasant Ascent of Mount Shanks
Timestamp Free: 2020.11.23 - 23:20:16
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Front Ranges / Sawback Range
  (1 days)
Participants: Reg Bonney, Bob Saunders, Rick Collier
Difficulty: 3: Moderate scrambling above timberline
Shanks is an unpleasant climb of over 5000', primarily because much of the ascent below timberline is a nasty bushwhack
Shanks might be an interesting and enjoyable ascent if one were to do it as part of a long traverse of Hawk Ridge -- Shanks is, but for one bump, the last summit on the S end of this lengthy NW/SE spine. As far as I know, however, only Peter Spear and R. Workum have done so, taking but two days to traverse Hawk from the Simpson River to Hawk Creek (frankly, I'd recommend three days).

Most scramblers will, however, try to ascend Shanks from the Simpson River pull-out and bridge (over the Vermilion River)on the Radium highway (GR 738/478 on 82 J/13 -- Mount Assiniboine). This is what we did in 1989, even managing to mountain bike part way up the old fire lookout trail (which splits off from the Simpson River trail only a couple of hundred meters past the bridge).

However, once the trail peters out and virtually disappears in the undergrowth, the bushwhacking takes over, and it is awful; as I noted in my climbing journal, "this [ascent by bicycle] was followed by a terrible bushwhack through interlaced toothpick deadfall." Any of you who have stumbled and agonized through this kind of forest will readily know of what I writing -- tiny trees, no more than a few inches in diameter, die and then are blown over by the wind in such a fashion that they twine about with each other, making progress through them frustratingly slow and contortional. A folding handsaw would be advised for the really tangled sections.

I'm sure this mess is even worse now, given the two forest fires in the area since our ascent. It's possible the fires have burned away some of this scrub, but more likely they have simply hardened and blackened these poles, leaving an even uglier morass through which one has to climb.

In any case, it's a long and nasty ascent to timberline. Once we broke...

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