|On East Saint Mary's peak with the Soneilem ridge in the immediate background. Photo: Jeffrey|
I overestimated the length of the outing, so we headed out very early from Saint Mary's reservoir. Not wanting to drive two vehicles, we both biked the shuttle to Mission reservoir by headlamp, and were jogging from the trailhead at 7 am. The trail to Lucifer lake is steep but good, and we made decent time running when possible, but mainly just hiking and enjoying the morning. From a water refill stop at the lake, we cast off into the brush, heading for the base of the avalanche path at the toe of the Sonielem ridge. We had to do a couple of map checks, but the bushwacking was not too bad by Mission standards, and we were able to nose our way up through brush infested cliffs with minimal carnage. I had no beta for climbing the steep northeast face of the ridge, and an unanticipated skiff of fresh snow had us both nervous. Fortunately, we were able to weave a way through the cliffs, even if it was a touch more exposed than we would have liked. We really didn't want to have to downclimb, so it was with great relief that we topped out on the ridge.
|Bushwacking to the base of the ridge.|
|Jeffrey all smiles as we top out on the Sonielem ridge.|
Glacier peaks and Picture lake in the background.
|The exposed middle portion of the Sonielem ridge.|
|Belly flopping near the summit of Peak Y.|
|Normal Greywolf from East St, Mary's photo.|
Although it is perhaps generous to call this a classic outing, the clean ridge section of the traverse is high quality (with the exception of some rotten rock here and there). It is also fun to be in a place seldom visited by humans, despite the Soneilem ridge's commanding presence from the valley. Gaining the ridge at the beginning of the day was a big push, but after that, the rest of the day just kind of flowed by with ease. Of note, while the difficulties never exceed moderate class 4, bailing from the traverse would be long and difficult.
I can't help but dream about a traverse around the rim of Mission creek, from the Sonielem ridge to Kakashe. Maybe someone fast can go do it and let me know how it goes...
Our day was somewhere around 7,500 vertical feet, and done in about 8.5 hours at a moderate, steady pace with several long stops.