Friday, July 31, 2015

The Four Summit Day - Ha Ling Peak to Miner's Peak (and beyond)

Earlier this month my son and I joined another family for a challenging hike up Ha Ling Peak outside of Canmore.We had already summited this fun little mountain last summer so I wasn't overly worried about the hike and knew my 6 year old could easily make the top. And sure enough, it was pretty easy going up to the saddle where you reach the ridge overlooking the town of Canmore down below. We had hiked up about 600 to 650 metres by this point and only had 100 metres (at most) to climb before we'd be on the summit.

Resting at the Saddle with Ha Ling Peak in front of us

Everything looks very peaceful in the photo above and you'd have to look carefully to see anybody else on the mountain. Real time though sitting on that ridge, we could count over 50 people slowly snaking their way up to the summit. We knew it would be crowded, busy, and far from the serene summit experience I usually prefer to have.

The alternative to sharing a summit with 50 other hikers? We could go right. We could hike away from Ha Ling Peak and explore the other side of the ridge leading to Miner's Peak. And we'd have the summit all to ourselves!

To the right of the saddle, this is a view you won't get from the normal trail up Ha Ling Peak
Following the ridge away from Ha Ling Peak

Trail Description for Miner's Peak

You'll start at the regular trailhead for Ha Ling Peak and follow the exact same trail for 90% of your route. As you approach the low point on the ridge you'll see a faint trail through the scree heading right towards a smaller rounded peak. That's your path. And don't worry if you miss it.  Head to the saddle and follow the ridge going right. Keep following the ridge and you'll end up at Miner's Peak after a 10-15 minute walk.

There is only another 50 metres of height gain (if that) to reach the summit of Miner's Peak from the saddle and low point on the ridge.

Hiking along the ridge to Miner's Peak, seen at left (the three bumps at right we'd tackle next)

In the photo above you will see a small rounded bump at the left. That is Miner's Peak. Easy peasy to reach and guaranteed to be quiet as you leave the crowds behind at the saddle heading for Ha Ling.

The trail leading to the summit is a bit narrow but it only adds to the adventure. Our kids loved the hike and we were never worried about them falling off the ridge. Parents with young children will want to hold some hands though!

Before heading up to the summit, stop here and enjoy the lovely meadow
Hiking the final ridge to the top of Miner's Peak (with the three bumps we also climbed in the background)
Miner's Peak Summit - no crowds!!
We had the summit all to ourselves and the view was just as good as the one off of neighboring Ha Ling Peak.

Three very happy kids on the summit of Miner's Peak
Hiking back along the ridge off of Miner's Peak
You don't get views like this when hiking up to the more popular summit of Ha Ling Peak

Beyond to the Three Humps

From below Miner's Peak in the meadow, you will be staring across to another ridge with three small humps. They look big from down below but once you get up to the meadow you can see how short a hike it would be to tag all three peaks. And best of all, we saw a trail snaking its way through the scree towards the first hump. Giddy Up!

The Three Humps as seen from down below on the hiking trail
The kids standing on top of the first hump

The trail was easily visible to the col between the first and second humps. We quickly tagged the first hump (the easiest) and then climbed up to the second which was narrower and had a few moments where you'd want to make sure your kids are very steady on their feet.

Kids on top of the second hump

We hiked up and over the second hump, followed a very narrow ridge (many parents would be nervous here), climbed up and over some blocky rocks, and ended up beneath the final hump. One website I found mentions that the third hump (the first one the left) has some exposure if you go to the top. Cool!! We went to the top.  :)

The kids on top of the third hump which definitely had some exposure

This was the only summit of the day that made me a wee bit nervous. I definitely stood underneath my son as he down climbed off the summit and watched to make sure he chose good footholds. This was scrambling for sure with hands on moments of easy rock climbing.

The boys hiking back along the ridge, up and over the second hump again
You'll go over the second hump in both directions

We got  back down to the meadow and the kids were ecstatic! They had tagged four summits and had every reason to be very proud of themselves! Meanwhile, I was overjoyed that we had found such an incredible place to explore without crowds! We might never do Ha Ling Peak again.

Hiking back along the ridge to the saddle with Ha Ling Peak

We joked about continuing on to tackle Ha Ling Peak as well but one of the children put it best when she said "let's not!" I enjoyed a nice hike (run) back down the mountain in record time as I chased my son all the way to the parking lot. I swear he wasn't even the slightest bit tired on the hike down!

General Trip Review

We might never do Ha Ling Peak again. At the very least, I will never hike back up this trail without doing Miner's Peak and the Three Humps in addition to tagging Ha Ling.

The hike up Miner's Peak is actually easier than the hike up Ha Ling Peak with no scrambling and no loose scree or rocks. I'd recommend it for children 5+ who can hike up approximately 700m over about 6km return.

Beautiful hiking on the way to Miner's Peak

The hike over the Three Humps is more challenging and I wouldn't recommend it for children under the age of 6.  Even then, it is best suited for strong hikers who have previous experience with hands on scrambling and narrow ridge walking. If you feel at all nervous, tag the first two humps and turn back before the third.

This 6 year old LOVED every moment of the hike!

We now think this is our favourite hike in all of Kananaskis.
Two Thumbs Up!!

Additional Reading

Ha Ling!! My Baby Climbed His First Real Summit! (last year's trip report)

Miner's Peak and the Three Humps Trail Description via Trail Peak

Ha Ling Peak Trail Description via Trail Peak

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