Pocaterra Ridge: Balanced on a Knife-Edge
Pocaterra Ridge in Kananaskis Country is breathtaking, giving a commanding view of the neighboring mountains. We crampon hiked 9 kms (6 miles) with 550 meters (1805 feet) elevation gain, most of it along the ridge. While typically straightforward, the deep snow and blustering winds on the knife-edge of the ridge made for a challenging and exhilarating hike.
During the fall this hike is hugely popular due to the brilliant yellow larches which turn a darker gold after a hard frost. We were fortunate to hike it on the first snowy weekend when the trees were still yellow but without the crowds. Snow covered Mount Rae is in the center with Mount Arethusa to the right. This area forms part of Pocaterra Cirque.
The new snow provides a beautiful contrast to the yellow larches and gives a clean, crisp appearance to Mount Tyrwhitt to the right and Grizzly Ridge to the left. Grizzly Col is the low point between the two mountains with part of Pocaterra Cirque in front of it.
Mark and I at the highest point of Pocaterra Ridge, with the ridge we were to traverse behind us. At points the ridge is not for the faint of heart or inexperienced as an uncontrolled slide on the snow could hurl you over the edge.
While you can hike the ridge without crampons, they sure made the trail far safer to traverse.
Mark hiking just below the top of the ridge. Our hiking poles were essential in the deep snow.
It’s a bit hard to make out but you can see the steep drop off outside of the rutted trail.
Looking back on knife-edged Pocaterra Ridge. The wind was gusting the entire hike, making warm clothes a must.
One of the final high points of the ridge before the trail dips down into the forest. While a bit more hazardous, the fresh snow made this hike one of spectacular beauty.
For additional information about this hike, contact the Peter Lougheed Park Discovery & Information Centre.
Photo Credit: Mark Kucharski and Jolene Rempel
This post is part of the Kananaskis Country (South) series.
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