I keep wanting to write More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies SOUTH. You should know that very few scrambles are described in Banff and Yoho parks, and none at all in Jasper and Kootenay. The vast majority range from K Country down to Waterton.
Having got that out of the way, I can report that Andrew Nagara’s second edition is a feast for the eyes with a new layout, route-marked colour pics and route-marked topo maps showing accesses. As before, the introductory blurb is Alan’s with added info from Andrew that includes a useful list of trips accessible by mountain bike, a chart showing the pros and cons of scrambling at different seasons of the year and a section on winter scrambling. As you know Andrew is a fan of winter climbing which he often considers “more rewarding.” At the back of the book an appendix gives suggestions for multi-peak combos, good weather days, short days and early/late season trips, together with a list of peaks grouped into the three categories of easy, moderate and difficult.
The book came out a couple of months ago and it is now winter and you are maybe reaching for Andrew’s snowshoe book. But you may as well buy More Scrambles now because it’s going to take you some time to read your way through this meaty 384 page volume and plan your new trips for next year. And there are some beauties, especially farther south in the Castle area.
While sitting together at the Banff Mountain Book festival I asked Andrew a few questions:
G. How many new trips are there in the book?
A. There are 49 new trips in this edition, 13 in K Country, for a total of 114 trips.
G. What are the ratios of Easy, Moderate and Difficult scrambles in the new edition?
A. Easy: 33%, Moderate: 43%, Difficult: 24%
G. What is your favourite area and why?
A. That’s a tough question: each area of the Rockies has characteristics which make it unique and enjoyable. However, as a general rule I enjoy Waterton and The Castle more than any other area. The red and green rock (argillite), plus a plethora of other colourful types of rock, make every scene jump out at you with a vibrancy that is unequalled in parts of the Rockies further north. Throw in all the stunning lakes and you just can’t help but be mesmerized.
G. Do you have a favourite scramble?
A. From the new book, I would say Mount Dungarvan – especially if you can do the approach right alongside Lost Horse Creek. Honourable mention goes to Victoria Peak to Victoria Ridge, Yoho Peak, Mosquito Mountain, the new route up Mount Anderson, and Jake Smith Peak.
G. Did you remove any scrambles from the first edition?
A. Yes I did. Just one – Old Goat Mountain. I talked to a number of very competent scramblers who completed that scramble and the jury was split – about half of them said it was a very difficult scramble and the other half called it a technical climb. That was a little too close for me and I decided to pull it from the second edition. Downclimbing the east ridge of Old Goat is quite challenging and I don’t want anyone going up it and finding they cannot get down.
G. So what is the most difficult scramble in the new book?
A. Another tough one! Overall, because of their length and steepness, I would consider Mount Dungarvan and Mount Richards to be the most difficult scrambles. However, in terms of difficult and exposed scrambling moves, the West Ridge of Mount Baldy’s west peak, Lineham Creek Peaks, and the difficult route up Mount Coulthard would also be noteworthy.
G. Besides 49 new trips, is there anything else that’s new?
A. I was supper happy that this edition has colour photos. That certainly has increased the visual appeal of the book. Also new is a short section called “Ultimate High-Level Ridgewalks”, that perhaps should be titled “Ultimate High-Level Ridge scrambles”! These very long but extremely rewarding trips in the Castle area involve getting multiple summits without having to go all the way down to the bottom of the valley and then back up another mountain — another reason why I love the Castle so much.
G. And now for an even tougher question! I’ve had people comment on your naming of unnamed peaks after family and friends who appear to have absolutely no connection to the area or to mountains in general. What made you decide to go that route rather than use descriptive names or grid references as you have done previously?
A. A good friend once asked me how I name unnamed peaks. After explaining that I usually use names associated with the surrounding area or by combining the names of nearby peaks (ie. “Smutwood Peak”), she asked why I didn’t name some of them after people I cherish in my life. I thought that was a pretty decent idea and so I did. However, at the time of the naming I didn’t expect that they would make it into a book. The exceptions are “Mount Miles,” “Krowicki Peak” and “Rogan Peak.” Those I named fully knowing they would probably be in any subsequent editions of the first book.
The five peaks in this edition named after people are “Frankie Peak” (my mum), “Larry Mountain” (my step-dad), “Rogan Peak” (my nephew) and “Mount Miles” and “Krowicki Paek” (both after a dear friend of mine Miles Krowicki, who passed away suddenly from cancer at age 43.) I don’t imagine I will name any more peaks after people, even though the person who most deserves that honour is my brother Mark. As a person who is a legally blind person, he has accomplished more in the mountains than anyone I know. Hopefully, the public will forgive my indulgence in naming a few peaks for personal reasons.
G. Do you remember your first scramble?
A. I completed (barely!) Grizzly Peak in July of 2001. It was a nightmare and I swore I would never go to the mountains again. However, something prompted me to try another scramble a few weeks later (Ha Ling Peak). I kinda’ liked that one! I did a third scramble (East of Rundle) a week later and I was completely addicted. After doing a ton of Kane scrambles and Daffern hikes, my brother and I started exploring different areas and mountains and that eventually led to the writing of the first More Scrambles book.
G. Besides the mountains (you climb, hike and snowshoe) what other interests do you have?
A. Music will always be my first and number one love. I play classical guitar and electric guitar on a regular basis. I am in two bands: lead guitar for the band “Talking Dog” and bass guitar for “The 427’s”, an instrumental surf rock band. I’m also back to teaching some music in school (Notre Dame High School), in addition to Physics.
G. If you could climb/scramble somewhere besides the Canadian Rockies, where would you go?
A. For many summers I have spent my time in the Canadian Rockies, scrambling and hiking. I absolutely love the environment. More recently I branched out (a little!) into Glacier National Park, Montana. Those who enjoy colourful Waterton will fall immediately in love with GNP. However, at some point I would love to see the Karakoram – no big peaks, just trekking and seeing what’s there. I would also like to visit the Andes.
G. What’s your favourite drink and food.
A. Moosehead beer. Anything Indian — curry!
And then we went off to the Namskar (we wished).