The Wedge -- Aug 26, 2006

Elevation Gain: 1100 meters (3608 feet)

Climbed by: me, Kevin, Mark.

Drive along Highway 40 (Kananaskis Parkway) for about 30 km's until you get to Wedge Pond. Park in the parking lot, and locate the gate at the back of the parking area. Walk through/past the gate, and turn immediately right. Start watching for a not-too-obvious trail to the left no more than 30-40 feet from the gate. Follow this trail, which parallels the road for accessing the Pond, and then veers off up a drainage on a more obvious trail.

This trail follows the drainage for a ways, then heads toward the northwest-facing ridge. The trail gets steeper for a while, but is always quite obvious. Kane, at least, hints that it might be hard to find the trail, but that's no longer the case. It's very obvious, well-worn, and in pretty decent shape.

Eventually, you'll find yourself at the top of the shoulder, above the trees, in a pleasant, hilly, meadow. The trail is still very obvious here. Head up toward the grey lifeless wedge-shaped bit, walking across the bottom of it to the east. Keep an eye out for a (as of this writing) small cairn that indicates the ascent route. Unless you have a keen eye for such things, you'll probably not think this is the optimal route up, but it actually is. There is a lot of loose rock, so your party should stay together, and should definitely all wear helmets. Below, there is a picture that points out the route up from the small cairn.

Once you gain the top of the ridge, you should see a fairly obvious trail. This trail follows this ridge right up to the first summit. From there you can see some of the ridge walk that lies ahead (but not the crux). Most of the ridge walk to the true summit is a cake walk. It's wide enough in most places that you'd have to be a real klutz to actually fall off. Soon, you come across the crux, which I think is at the lowest point of the ridge. It consists of a thin spine of rock at the top for your hands, with a small ledge 4-5 feet below on the left-hand side for your feet. It really looks a lot worse than it is, but make sure you have a couple good holds before putting your weight on any of the foot-holds. One of mine decided to relocate to the bottom of the hill when I put my weight on it. Good thing I had one other good foot hold, and two good hand holds!

Once you're over this crux, the cake-walking resumes, and before long you're on the summit! Enjoy the views, and come down the same way you came up.

The Wedge from the highway. Looks pretty imposing from here.
Mount Kidd from part-way up the trail.
Kevin and Mark catching their breath after ascending at over 700 meters/hour. Whew!
Kananaskis Village, and the highway leading north.
Mount Kidd, Wedge Pond, and Highway #40, from the grassy shoulder near the bottom of the exposed rock "wedge".
Kananaskis Village, and the highway leading north.
Kevin and Mark walking up the steeper part of the shoulder.
"The Wedge" looks fairly imposing from here...
That's better. It looks a lot less steep when you're right underneath it.
Wedge Pond, the north end of Kidd, Kananaskis Village, and the highway.
The trail winds south-east from the lake, along the differently-coloured line of trees, and up onto the shoulder.
Looking down from near the first summit, you can see the sharp delineation between the larger trees and the smaller trees. I read that a big fire wiped out much of this area in 1936, but I'd have thought the smaller trees would have grown more in the last 70 years. Maybe not...

At this point I thought Mark and Kevin were ahead of me because it took me so long to gain the ridge on the right from the middle of the gulley where I started. I boogied up the mountain and was surprised to see that they weren't there yet. If you look closely at the rock bulge on the climber's right of the ridge, you can see Mark and Kevin down there! Good thing I was still being careful not to knock any rocks down...

Mark and Kevin at the first summit, lightening their packs by eating and drinking.
Mark and I at the first summit.
A look to the west -- The Fortess, Chester, Gusty Peak.
I believe that's Mt. Joffre off in the distance (the big one that's covered in snow).
If one were to walk directly underneath the bare rock "wedge" of this mountain, straight across, one would cross over the col and onto the meadowy slopes beyond. It looks like it might make a nice hike for those not interested in using their hands. The Wedge ascent trail might already go right across to the other side.
The infamous ridge walk. Mostly a piece of cake.
I begin the lovely ridge walk. I love ridge walks as long as there's no wind. It was a calm day...
Me on the crux.
Mark downclimbing toward the crux while Kevin looks (nervously) on.
Mark on the crux while Kevin patiently awaits his turn.
Kevin, looking over yonder to see if there's something more interesting going on. Look, ma, one hand!
It's straight down!
Mark and Kevin on the summit.
Me signing the summit register.
A look back at the first summit (and the ridge) from the real summit.
Mark, me, and Kevin on the summit. I hope my camera doesn't fall off that rock...
From the small cairn at the bottom of the bare rock section, this is the route to take up to the ridge on the right. Of course, we didn't find this route until the way down, but trust me, it's the best one.
Kevin walked a little further east along the trail past the cairn to get a look up the chute you should climb to get to the right-hand ridge where the trail is. The rock I'm standing on is visible in the picture above, too.