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Exploring Upper McConnell Creek and Ascents of Boar Station, Bellow and Howl Peaks
Timestamp Free: 2021.01.22 - 20:49:19
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Front Ranges
  (3 days)     Elevation Gain: 4100m
Participants: Phil Richards, Vern Dewit
Difficulty: 3: A long approach via the Red Deer River followed by remote bushwhacking and route finding. Easy to moderate scrambling to the summits.
Exploring some of Banff National Park's most remote valleys and peaks with no easy way to access them.

The Plan

In July of 2017 Phil and I ascended Cataract Peak and paid close attention to a few remote valleys located to the north and east of this lofty, lonely perch of snow and rock. Partly due to these views, in August of 2018 Phil and I did a 2 day trip into Mount McConnell, becoming the 6th or 7th ascent party on one of Banff's most remote summits. Views to the north towards an more remote valley ringed with obscure summits such as "Boar Station", "Bellow" and "Howl" got our imaginations going. Early in 2020 with the mountains still coated in winter coats of snow Phil put together a comprehensive plan involving the upper NW corner of the McConnell Creek basin. It ticked all the boxes for us. Remote? Check. Tarns? Check. No official trails? Check. Wild creeks? Check. Rarely ascended peaks? Check. Big peaks (over 10,000')? Check. We made plans for a trip into the McConnell Creek north drainage for Friday, July 10 2020 to Sunday, July 12 2020.

(For an interesting read on a 1985 trip into this area by a group of Canadian wardens, see this article on Bivouac.)

The Approach

The distance required to reach McConnell Creek from the Bighorn Campground at Ya Ha Tinda requires 14km of biking and approximately 17km of hiking along the Red Deer River Road. The first 14km bike ride is just a prelude to any trips into this area of the Rockies. There are some uphill sections but overall it's a pretty simple approach. Making things interesting is a crossing of Scalp Creek near the start of the ride that gets the feet and legs soaking wet right from the start. I don't enjoy biking with an overnight pack but at least we'd done a lot of bike approaches this year so we were prepared. It took us only an hour or so and we were...

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