Mount Lady MacDonald
|Nearest major airport:||Calgary International|
Thanks to Bruce Dunbar for adding this peak.
East Ridge- Lady MacDonald dominates the northern skyline of Canmore, Alberta, gateway to the Canadian Rockies through Banff National Park. Take the 2nd Canmore exit off of the TransCanada as you are heading west (downtown exit). Turn right on Benchlands Trail and the road will bend back east. Take another right on Elk Run Blvd and take an immediate left turn into the Cougar Canyon trailhead.
The scramble route is a fairly immediate turn after the trail narrows. The East Ridge does not start off the canyon floor for another 20-30 minutes. You will pass many sport climbing crags in route. The start of the East Ridge will be on your left prior to the fork in Cougar Creek. We did observe one flag marker. The trail ascends immediately, but is not obviously made out unless you are playing close attention. 30-40 minutes from your car.
This is approximately a 4400' day. Ascend through tree line following the East Ridge until you reach solid rock. Ascend this first pitch as a scramble. Upon the next ledge, traverse slightly left looking for a blocky corner. This corner allows for protection if one desires. It will be bolted at the top. Then traverse left again for another pitch with another corner. Again bolted at the top, room for pro if desired. These two technical sections will land you on the ridge itself.
I soloed this ridge, however, the other 4 in my party remained roped. There is exposure and therefore, plenty of bolts. Excluding a few interesting pieces, blocks, etc. in-between, this ridge runs relativly uneventfull straight for the summit of Lady "Mac" for approximately 2000'. You will eventually observe the scramble route to your left passing through an old tea house (never completed) and helipad area. You will meet any scramblers on the false summit. From there, you have a narrow ridge to traverse over to the true summit. Again, some might rope up for this section. We ran into rams on the ridge and cat tracks (Lynx or Bobcat) just west of the true summit. There is a register.
You do not have to return this narrow ridge all the way back to the false summit for descent. Return to a notch in the ridge and descend scree while picking your angle back to the helipad and the scramble route which will land you back to Cougar Creek trail.
Scramble-Park at Cougar Canyon trail head parking lot. The ascent trail takes off to the left within 10 minutes. Ascend steeply, but all trail to the helipad. Then follow a scree path to a false summit. All of this to now has been easy. The ridge to the true summit must be tackled cautiously and is the only reason this is listed as a difficult vs easy scramble. They found a body in 2003 who had slipped off this section. The views are fun, take your time. Good local repeat for beginners.
The backside of this mountain offers a very lush meadow that kind of surprises you. A goat would be in hog heaven here. This helipad and partial tea house is a huge eyesore and makes no sense. If they ever do start something for tourist up here, I recommend that one not patronize such a ludicrous venture.
There is a register. You can down climb and traverse at a V notch if you are not comfortable smearing the ridge towards the end.