⚠️ Hiking and scrambling are inherently dangerous activities. Please read my Disclaimer. ⚠️
Wow! What a difference a week makes when it comes to weather. Last Saturday, I was battling a blizzard on the summit of Anderson Peak while today, I didn’t have to put my jacket on once. Welcome to hiking in the fall!
Today’s exceptionally beautiful weather was well-timed, as it was the first weekend since the 2017 Kenow wildfire, that motor vehicle traffic was allowed on the Akamina Parkway in Waterton. To take advantage of this, Andrew suggested that we ascend Mount Rowe and then afterwards, see if it was possible to continue on to Mount Lineham. As it had been many years since I lasted visited Rowe Lakes, I was keen to see what impact the fire had on the area – which we were pleased to discover, was minimal, as the fire had stayed mostly along the parkway.
This meant that we were treated to some wonderful fall foliage including a brilliant section of larches located on the slopes above Upper Rowe Lake. When combined with blue skies, plenty of red argillite, and little to no wind, it was a fine display of the colours that make Waterton and the Castle so unique.
After enjoying a short but fun scramble to the summit of Rowe, we then made our way towards Mount Lineham along the connecting ridge. However, a series of steep steps thwarted our progress and we returned towards Mount Rowe. It was when we were preparing to descend to Upper Rowe Lakes that we experienced another highlight of the day, running into Sonny, Zosia, Ali, and Asieh who had just arrived on the ridge. We knew they were also planning to hike up Rowe, but were unsure if our paths would cross. Indeed, if our route to Lineham had actually worked, we would’ve missed them entirely!
Sonny’s trip reports are a must read for hikers and over the past decade, I’ve leaned on them heavily for route information and inspiration – so it was awesome to finally meet in person. Moreover, it was just as wonderful to meet Zosia, and their friends Ali and Asieh – all of whom are very cool cats. In fact, when taken all together – perfect weather, stunning colours, and meeting new friends – it was a fabulous day to be on a mountain! 😊
Be sure to read Andrew’s trip report!
Likewise, be sure to read Sonny’s trip report!
We used Andrew’s Rowe Lakes route from, More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. To get to Mount Rowe, drive to the Waterton townsite and then follow the Akamina Parkway (Cameron Lake Road) for ~10.3 km to the Rowe Lakes trailhead (now with a new, larger parking lot). Hike the trail for ~6.4 km to Upper Rowe Lake and then use the scree slopes located between it and the slightly lower lake (or less ‘uppity’ lake 😉) to reach the north ridge. Follow the north ridge until it connects with the northeast ridge that Andrew describes in More Scrambles. Here is where the scrambling starts as it follows the narrowing ridge, with the crux being an exposed step. However, the rock is good and after a few more hands-on sections, it becomes a walk to the summit. In total, from the lakes to the summit it was a ~302 m elevation gain over ~1.3 km.
From the summit we followed Rowe Ridge west and then north for ~1.8 km to the first of two unnamed high points. The views from here are great and it is well worth the diversion. As we were attempting to get to Mount Lineham, we continued north for ~1 km to the summit of an even taller, unnamed high point. This is where we pulled the plug due to unsuitable terrain and returned to the col between the first high point and Mount Rowe. Here, a grassy ridge leads down to Upper Rowe Lake which makes for an easy descent/ascent route if you don’t want to scramble to the summit of Mount Rowe. From here, we returned along the trail.
Our total roundtrip distance was 23 km with total elevation gains of 1260 m. Our total roundtrip time was 7 hours and 53 minutes. More specifically, it took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Upper Rowe Lake (which included a quick diversion to Lower Rowe Lake) and an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the summit of Rowe.
Another early morning in Waterton – this time with way better weather!
Andrew hikes through the burned forest near the trailhead. Fortunately, the 2017 Kenow wildfire spared much of the Rowe Lakes canopy save for the area adjacent to the Akamina Parkway.
Early on, we were guided by a full moon. Thankfully, we were able to use Nandor the Relentless’s squeaky toy manoeuvre to vanquish any werewolf challengers. 😂
Here come those fall colours!
The view back towards Buchanan Ridge.
The unnamed high point in the middle is where we were thwarted from reaching Mount Lineham. I’m thinking of calling it, “The Peak of Despair”… 😂
The junction with the trail to Lower Rowe Lake. Just for fun, we would make the quick trip to see the lake.
Lower Rowe Lake with the long northeast ridge of Mount Rowe in the background.
Back on the trail to Upper Rowe Lake.
Arriving in Rowe Meadow.
Gazing across the meadow and towards the Lineham Ridge trail.
Looking back towards Lineham Ridge and Mount Lineham.
Many think I’m unbalanced, but this proves that assumption is false. 😂😂
Approximately, 5.2 km from the trailhead, we arrived at the final junction along the trail. Here is where the Upper Rowe Lake trail begins its steep climb.
With Mount Lineham as the backdrop, Andrew rounds one of several switchbacks.
Arriving at Upper Rowe Lake and noting the cool ring of larch needles along the shore. The easy route to Mount Rowe (and our descent route) goes up the slope on the right.
The view across the lake towards Mount Rowe.
Andrew follows the outlet towards the slightly lower, less “uppity” lake. 😂
Yikes! There was not much left of the other lake. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Walking across the dry lake bed. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Andrew walks along the opposite shore where the water would normally be over his head. The easy route to Rowe is noticeable in the background.
It was a gorgeous morning with very little wind.
Larch needles highlight the ongoing drop in water levels.
Mount Lineham under early morning sunlight.
Leaving the lake and heading to the ascent slope.
One more look to highlight the decreasing water levels.
Heading up steep slopes to gain the north ridge.
A nice pano of Upper Rowe Lake and the less “uppity” lake. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
On the north ridge and gazing down at Lower Rowe Lake where we were earlier in the day.
Andrew arrives onto the north ridge.
Hiking up the north ridge to its point of intersection with Rowe’s northeast ridge. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Glancing back to Andrew and the ever present, Mount Lineham.
The view down to Upper Rowe Lake shortly after arriving on the northeast ridge.
Andrew leads us towards the all-too-short section of scrambling.
Compared to last week’s winter-like ascent of Anderson Peak, I didn’t have to put my jacket on once all day.
The ridge narrows and the scrambling begins. I thought the crux was this exposed step near the start.
I lead the way up. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Overcoming the crux required some moderate scrambling with an extra dose of caution given the exposure. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Standing at the end of the first exposed section. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Andrew carefully negotiates the previous section of exposure.
Andrews leads us onto the next section.
It was too bad that this rock was in the shadows because it was so colourful. The next section also had exposure, but it wasn’t as bad as the first.
Climbing some good rock.
The view back at our entire route up from the lakes.
Enjoying the easy walk to the final section of scrambling.
Nothing too complicated here.
The summit of Mount Rowe (2464 m). (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Andrew follows me onto the summit.
A wide angle slightly to the southwest.
The view to the north.
Looking to the northeast.
A hazy wide angle to the east.
More haze to the south.
A closer look at Kinnerly Peak (right) and Kintla Peak.
Starvation Peak is on the right.
A telephoto of Long Knife Peak.
A hazy Festubert Mountain.
Upper Rowe Lake from the summit.
Andrew on the summit – once again. 😊
As I was wearing plaid, I thought I’d be cool like Brad. 😂
After enjoying the views, we began the pleasant hike along Rowe Ridge towards Mount Lineham. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Gazing towards Mount Lineham. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Larches plus Waterton colours = awesome!
The view back to Mount Rowe from further along the ridge.
We now began to get some good looks at Mount Blakiston (left). BTW, my hiking form has been heavily influenced by Kel Knight. 😂 (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Another good look at the easy ascent/descent route. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Approaching the first high point along the ridge – which is actually higher than Mount Rowe. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
The summit of the first high point (2500 m). (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Looking to the next high point along the ridge and in the distance, Mount Hawkins.
Andrew leads us off of the first high point. At this point we were cautiously optimistic that we would be able to continue on to Lineham Ridge and Mount Lineham.
Andrew walks across the col.
The views from along the ridge were terrific.
Andrew approaches the summit of the second high point, or what I now call, “The Peak of Despair” (2518 m). 😂
I begin to hike down to explore our options. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Arriving at the top of the initial step. There appeared no way to bypass the steep cliffs.
Hmmm, seems legit… 😂 Someone had rappelled using a park boundary sign as the “anchor”. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
The other end of the unfastened sign. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
There appeared to be a way down the east face, but the steep cliffs guarding the gully on the left would prevent reaching the remainder of the ridge. Oh well!
Leaving “The Peak of Despair”…
Arriving back at the first high point.
Still enjoying the views.
If we had found a way to continue on to Mount Lineham, we would have missed running into this fine group of hikers!! 😊 From left to right: Asieh, Zosia, Sonny, Andrew, and Ali. Be sure to read Sonny’s trip report!
After chatting at length with the group, Andrew and I continued our descent.
Andrew wears yellow to lure the larches into coming closer. 😉
A closer look at the steps that prevented us from continuing on to Lineham.
Enjoying the scenic trip to Upper Rowe Lake. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Upper Rowe lake shows off its colours under the afternoon sun.
Glancing back to the ridge.
Instead of following the ridge along its crest, we deviated further to the south so as to approach the lake from beneath Mount Rowe.
It won’t be long before those larch needles are gone.
Getting closer to the lake. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Another gratuitous lake photo.
Almost there… (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
As it was so scenic, we decided to take the long way around the lake.
Colourful Mount Lineham.
The view across and back to our descent route.
A shelf of red argillite provides a striking ribbon of colour.
Enjoying a leisurely stroll. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Instead of leaving right away, we decided to head towards the other lake to see what it looked like under the afternoon sun. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
So much colour! (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
One last view back towards Mount Rowe.
Back on the main trail.
Blue sky and larches…
Contemplating “The Peak of Despair” from the trail.
One last look at Mount Lineham.
The rich green moss adds to an already full palette.
And more colour.
The trail was busy, but not crowded.
The haze over Buchanan Ridge had begun to dissipate and we now had our best view of it all day.
Making our way through the burned section prior to the trailhead.
Arriving back to a very busy parking lot after 23 km and 7 hours and 53 minutes. Once again, this was another fantastic trip with Andrew and thankfully, much better weather than what I experienced last week. Fall is one of my favourite times to hike because on a clear day, there is so much colour to take in, particularly in the Castle and Waterton. It was also awesome to run into Sonny, Zosia, Ali, and Asieh. I will definitely be back to tag Mount Lineham and also nearby Ruby Ridge!