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An Ascent of the East Face of Mount Pocaterra
Timestamp Free: 2019.08.21 - 05:16:16
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Front Ranges / Elk Range
  (1 days)
Participants: Rick Collier
Difficulty: 3: Moderate to difficult scrambling, depending on route chosen
This essay recounts a solo ascent of the E face of Tyrwhitt's sister peak to the N, Mount Pocaterra
Alan Kane has an excellent section in his "Scrambles in the Canadian Rockes" (3rd ed) on Pocaterra (p. 176), which, because this book is so widely available, I need not rehearse at any length here. Alan essentially advises the scrambler to ascend nearby Mt. Tyrwhitt (pp. 174-5) and then traverse "by a spectacular exposed-looking ridge" to Pocaterra; he also suggests that "no easy descent exists down the east side to Pocaterra Cirque. You must return via the ridge."

Of course I always take such admonitions to be invitations; besides I had glanced at the east face of Pocaterra on more than one occasion and thought it looked broken up enough to offer the possibility of a non-technical, if somewhat serious, scramble.

And so it was that on July 26, 2006, I found myself parking at the Upper Highwood Pass turn-out on a brilliant day of full sun and carpets of dancing wildflowers. I followed Alan's directions to Pocaterra Cirque (p. 174) - a fine, if deeply rutted and rooted, trail, often through niche meadows leads to an open basin where a fork appears in the path, the left branch heading up to Tyrwhitt col just E of the peak, while the right meanders though meadows NW across the basin toward Little Highwood Pass. I climbed up alongside a sparkling brook toward the pass, with excellent views of the E face of Pocaterra to my left; it certainly looked as if there were several possible scramble routes (finding them from the crest of the ridge high above might be problematic, however). It is about 3.5 km from the parking lot to this point.

A few hundred meters before the pass, I headed up the scree and shelves in a wandering arabesque that sometimes ascended the E ridge toward Pocaterra's first summit and that sometimes zigzagged up scree belts and shelves on the south...

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