This trip was all about tidying up loose ends. With only a morning to spare in the mountains, Jeff and I considered going back to Mount Taylor to complete last February’s unsuccessful snowshoe attempt as a hike. However, once we crossed the Continental Divide, we encountered snow and rain and could see that both Tent Mountain and Mount Taylor were shrouded in dark clouds. Our backup plan was to return to the Hillcrest area where the weather was better, and reattempt Clubs Peak and Spades Peak on Hastings Ridge where I had been thwarted in April due to deep snow. This was a great decision as it ended up being an easy hand to play! 😉
The high points on both Hastings Ridge and nearby Adanac Ridge (Canada spelled backwards), are some of the easiest summits to reach in southern Alberta. Back in March, I had completed a traverse of the Adanac Ridge from Maverick Hill to Poker Peak, but when I tried to reach Clubs Peak, I found the snow was too deep, so I settled for Cherry Hill as a substitute. This time however, there were no obstacles and we were able to tag the summits of both Clubs and Spades as well as the ruins of the old Adanac Strip Mine, which is located immediately to the south of Clubs Peak.
To get to this section of Hastings Ridge we turned off of Highway 3 onto East Hillcrest Drive and drove ~2.4km until we reached the Adanac Road junction. Here we turned left and followed the Adanac Road for ~8.7 km until we came to where it crosses a cattle guard as it enters the Castle Special Management Area. Immediately past the cattle guard, we left the Adanac Road by turning right onto the road which leads directly to the base of Clubs Peak. However, I wasn’t sure how muddy the road would be, so we only drove up it for ~150m before parking. This was our starting point, though depending on the road conditions, it is quite possible to drive directly to the base of Clubs Peak with a high clearance vehicle or 4×4.
From our parking spot we biked up the road for ~1.6km until we came to a junction located on a bend, where a side road branches off sharply to the right. This is the road that leads north towards Spades Peak. The main road itself continues to the left (south) for another ~270m until it reaches the base of Clubs Peak. From the base it is an easy ~320m walk to the summit. However, we saved ourselves ~300m by parking our bikes at the junction and ascending through light forest until we reached the shoulder beneath the summit. From here we walked the remaining ~140m to the summit. In total there was a ~103m elevation gain from the road to the summit.
After spending 25 minutes or so enjoying the summit, we descended the same way and biked towards Spades Peak which is located ~2.2km to the north along an easy ATV trail. To reach the trail, we followed the north road for ~300m until we came to an obvious fork, where the main section of road begins to descend to the northwest while the ATV trail starts on the right. We then followed the trail along the side of Hastings Ridge for ~1.9km until we arrived at the base of Spades Peak. While it is possible to follow the trail all the way to the summit, we avoided the long switchbacks by pushing our bikes up the lower slope until we regained the trail . We ditched our bikes at the second switchback and followed a small gully until we reached the trail just below the summit. Purely for the sake of interest, we left the trail at the fourth and final switchback and followed the rocky ridge to the summit. By avoiding the switchbacks we saved approximately ~450m in additional distance thus making it only a ~550m trip from the base to summit with an elevation gain of ~110m.
We descended Spades Peak the same way except we rode our bikes down the lower section of trail, utilizing the first switchback. We then followed our route back to Clubs Peak and with time still on our hands, decided to investigate what was left of the Adanac Strip Mine which is located on a high point immediately to the south of Clubs Peak. After reaching the ‘summit’, we enjoyed a bike ride through the Mars-like landscape of an open pit mine before heading back to our vehicle. This excursion added an extra ~3km onto our trip but was well worth it.
The West Canadian Collieries’ Adanac Strip Mine operated on Hastings Ridge from 1942 to 1962 and produced .692 metric tonnes of coal (source) As we found out, there is a fascinating portion of the open pit that still remains and is well worth exploring. An old picture of the pit (not great quality) can be found on page 35 of this, 1951 Government of Alberta report on The Geology of the Carbondale River.
This was a quick trip that came in at 3 hours and 32 minutes, though we could have easily chopped off more time if we had to. Our total distance travelled was ~13km with total elevation gains of 588m. The bumps on the above graph from left to right represent Clubs Peak, Spades Peak, and the highpoint of the Adanac Strip Mine.
A picture from April 2016 of the junction where the road to Clubs Peak joins the Adanac Road. This is what you will see if you approach from the north (Hillcrest).
Our starting point along the road to Clubs Peak. This location is ~150m from the cattle guard.
Looking back at Poker Peak shortly after starting. I used to think that Poker was the easiest summit in southern Alberta, but I now have to give that honour to Clubs Peak.
After a quick ~1km ride along the road, we rounded a bend which took us onto the western side of Hastings Ridge. Clubs Peak is directly in front Jeff. Impressive isn’t it! 😉
Approximately ~600m from the bend in the previous picture, we came to the junction where we would leave our bikes to ascend Clubs Peak using the slopes pictured on the right. The road continues to the left (south) for another ~270m until it comes to the base of Clubs Peak where a trail leads to the summit. However, to save ~300m in distance, we chose to go up from here. The side road that is shown branching to the right is what we would use to access the ATV trail that would take us to Spades Peak.
Looking back at our bikes after starting up the lightly forested slope.
After hiking through the trees for ~150m we came to the shoulder located on the south side of the ‘mountain’. Here is where we joined the actual trail. This is the view up to the summit from the shoulder.
Jeff takes the last few steps before reaching the summit. The trail that leads up from the road is clearly visible behind him.
The summit of Clubs Peak in all its glory! For some reason, Google Earth shows Clubs as having a much more expansive summit than it really does.
My GPS readings on the summit. The map says it is 1966m so my GPS readings are slightly off, possibly due to the weather front that was moving in from the west.
The view south. In the foreground on the right is the Adanac Strip Mine while in the centre is Carbondale Hill. In the distance from left to right: Prairie Bluff Mountain, Victoria Peak, Table Mountain, Whistler Mountain, Lys Ridge, Southfork Mountain, and Syncline Mountain (far right).
The view west reveals a beclouded Flathead Range.
An unnamed peak that is on my ‘To Do’ list is partially visible on the left. This peak is directly to the east of Centre Peak and north of Hollebeke Mountain along the Carbondale River Road. I had eyed it up a couple of years ago from the summit of Mount McCarty and hopefully I will get a chance to tackle it at some point in the future.
A pano to the south.
That’s me going ape on the summit…
…while Jeff channels his inner squirrel. Actually, this just shows how extreme this peak really is – people pack squirrel suits up to the summit and then jump… up and down. 😉
Our ascent route came up through the trees to the left of centre. In the background is Maverick Hill.
Jeff arrives back at the road. From here we would continue on to Spades Peak.