Ruby Ridge, 9 October 2020

Ruby Ridge (2435 m; centre) as viewed from the summit of Mount Galwey. This short solo trip turned into a fun scramble after I ventured onto the colourful eastern slopes of the west peak.

⚠️ Hiking and scrambling are inherently dangerous activities. Please read my Disclaimer⚠️

I was not expecting Ruby Ridge to become a scramble, but when it did, it was more than a pleasant surprise. The usual route up Ruby departs from the Lineham Lakes trail approximately 1.8 km from the trailhead and ascends the mountain’s south slope to the summit of the west peak – which is the highest point on the ridge. It then continues on to the slightly lower east peak before heading down an obvious ridge to the Akamina Parkway. Indeed, after reading Sonny Bou’s recent trip report and armed with Bob Spirko’s route description, I set off this morning fully expecting to follow in their footsteps.

However, after being blasted by wind in the parking lot, I decided to deviate from the norm and follow a somewhat sheltered gully directly from the trailhead into a section of trees about halfway up the west peak. Once in the trees, I soon saw an attractive cliff band off to my right and almost instinctively, began trending towards it until I found myself on the mountain’s southeast ridge.

The cliff band turned out to be fairly short, but I was happy to be offered the opportunity for a sheltered scramble – something that I was not expecting. After reaching the top, I was at the mercy of the wind and resigned myself that this would be my lot for the remaining slog to the summit. That’s when I noticed the brilliant red argillite off to my right. Wanting to see it up close, I ventured onto the eastern slope of the west peak where I found myself immersed in colour and captivated by the awesome scrambling terrain. Thankfully I had packed my helmet!

It would have been easy to just head up the first band of argillite, but I wanted to prolong the experience – and keep out of the wind – so I kept trending climber’s right (north) as I scrambled my way up. There were multiple gullies to try and wonderful steps to climb, all while surrounded by brilliant red and maroon argillite. I eventually emerged onto the summit of the west peak where I was instantly smacked by a freight train of wind. After snapping some photos, I resumed the usual Ruby route and continued on to the east summit and then down the small ridge to the Akamina Parkway.

I’m sure many have done this east slope route as it is both colourful and fun. I was definitely not expecting this trip to become a scramble and – I hate to say it – if it hadn’t of been for the wind, I probably would not have experienced it. So, here’s to that good ol’ southern Alberta wind! 😉

To get to Ruby Ridge, drive to the Waterton townsite and follow the Akamina Parkway (Cameron Lake Road) for ~9 km to the Lineham Lakes trailhead. This is the starting point. To use the usual route follow the trail for ~1.8 km before leaving it to hike steep open slopes to the summit of the west peak. To use today’s scramble route, start up the slope that begins immediately behind the trailhead and follow an obvious gully for ~1.4 km (422 m elevation gain) towards a section of trees. Once in the trees, leave the gully begin to trend climber’s right to gain the southeast ridge. Follow the ridge a short distance until you come to a cliff band. Either scramble up it (there are many possible routes) or avoid it to climber’s left. Once above the cliff band, continue to trend climber’s right until you are on the east side of the west summit. Here, there are multiple routes to follow and I would recommend continuing north as you ascend to prolong the scrambling. The large gully looks tempting, but it is full of loose scree and there are way better options.

From the summit of the west peak, it is a ~1.8 km hike to reach the east peak and there are three cliff bands that must be down-climbed to reach the col. To descend from the east peak, backtrack to the small high point on the col and follow the ridge that leads down for ~3.4 km to the Akamina Parkway. From here, enjoy the easy walk back to the trailhead. Be aware that there is some down-climbing along this ridge and once in the trees, there are several boulders hidden in the undergrowth.

My total roundtrip distance was 10.4 km with total elevation gains of 1118 m. My total roundtrip time was 4 hours and 7 minutes. Specifically, it took me 1 hour and 55 minutes to reach the summit from my vehicle.

It’s 9:30 am on a Friday morning and I’m the only one at the Lineham Lakes trailhead. That’s probably because most sane people would not want to be out in this wind! 😉 Ruby Ridge has two summits with the higher west peak on the left and the slightly lower east peak on the right.

Starting up the trail. I would only stay on it for a few metres before leaving it to follow a gully up to the patch of trees in the upper centre.

Heading towards the ascent slope shortly after leaving the trail.

I had no problem navigating through the trees.

The gully is on the far left with the southeast ridge in the centre. If it’s not super windy, an idea might be to keep heading over to the base of the ridge and ascend from there. There could be some scrambling opportunities on it. 😊

The gully provided me with a decent amount of shelter from the wind.

Gazing back along the gully to the trailhead and parking lot.

The view along the Akamina Parkway towards Cameron Lake. Buchanan Ridge is on the left.

Nearing the top of the initial slope.

I wasn’t the only one ‘grousing’ about the wind.

Heading over a small rock band before entering the trees.

Now sheltered from the wind, I kept following the gully…

However, it wasn’t long before I began to trend to climber’s right as I made my way onto the southeast ridge.

My first clear view of Cameron Lake with Mount Custer behind it. Forum Peak and Forum Ridge are on the right.

Now on the southeast ridge and looking towards Mount Crandell (centre).

This was the small cliff band that I had glimpsed from the gully, so I headed climber’s right to look for a way up.

Arriving at the base of the cliffs.

There were several options for ascent, so I picked the most interesting one and began to make my way up.

The view over to the east peak from partway up.

My route went between the trees and the rocks in the centre.

Heading to check out the small chimney on the left.

Standing at the base of the chimney. This ended up being a good route, but it was way too short. 😊

The view down the chimney from the top.

Back on the southeast ridge and checking out a neat rock formation.

Now blasted by the full force of the wind, it looked to be a miserable slog to the summit…

Then I saw the argillite cliffs on the east side of the west peak.

Not only were they beautiful, they also sheltered me from the wind, so I kept going to get a better look.

Starting my traverse across the cliffs.

I rounded a small corner and was thrilled to see a number of possible routes for scrambling. I was not expecting this! 😊

The first of many cool argillite formations.

An inviting argillite ‘staircase’.

This was tempting…

Ascending a small gully inside the ‘staircase’.

The view upwards from the top of the ‘staircase’.

Gazing back and across to the southeast ridge from the top of the ‘staircase’.

This was probably the coolest formation that I came across.

Continuing to traverse across and up the east slope.

Glancing across the valley and towards the ridge that I would use to descend.

There were so many options! However, I began to head towards the very large gully in the centre.

Arriving at the edge of the gully.

I ascended the gully for a short time, but it was full of loose scree and with so many other intriguing options available, I decided to exit it to climber’s right.

The view down the gully. From the descent ridge, I could see that it was quite a large scar on the mountain.

Another view across to the east peak as I get closer to the top of the west peak.

Heading up a smaller gully.

The last big section of argillite before more gradual terrain.

From this point, it was an easy stroll to the summit.

I had stop and check this interesting band of clamshell argillite.

Though it was easily avoidable, I chose to scramble over it.

The summit of the west peak of Ruby Ridge (2435 m). At this point, I was now blasted by the full force of the wind.

A wide angle to the northwest.

Gazing to the northeast.

The view to the east.

A wide angle to the south.

Looking southwest along the Akamina Parkway.

And finally, a wide angle to the west.

A closer look at the Lineham Lakes which sit to the west.

A fine looking Piinaquiium / Ahkoinimahstakoo (Mount Blakiston) with Ruby Lake nestled beneath it..

Gorgeous little Ruby Lake.

A telephoto to the north of Cloudy Ridge (centre), “Cloudy Junior” (right), and “Dundy Peak” (far right).

From left to right: “Rogan Peak”, the North Peak of Galwey, and Mount Galwey.

Mount Dungarvan sits directly to the north.

Looking over to my next stop, the east peak of Ruby.

A hazy view towards Mount Alderson (left), Buchanan Ridge (centre) and Mount Carthew.

Gazing at the impressive east face of Mount Lineham, while behind it, sits diminutive Mount Rowe.

Summit selfie while trying to keep my phone from blowing away. 😂

And finally, a summit pano just for good measure.

Starting off on the ~1.8 km trip over to the east peak. There are three small cliff bands that must be down-climbed to reach the col.

It was hard not to stop every few hundred metres to admire Piinaquiium / Ahkoinimahstakoo (Mount Blakiston).

Looking back at the first cliff band that I descend to skier’s left.

The view back to the second cliff band that I also down-climbed to skier’s left.

Standing on top of the final cliff band.

I found the third band required the most route finding. I ended up down-climbing it to quite far over to skier’s right, but it wasn’t easy.

From here it was smooth sailing to the east peak.

Arriving at the col and looking over at my scramble route up the east side of the west peak.

The ridge that I will use as my egress off of Ruby.

Enjoying the wind at my back as I head to a small high point.

A better view of today’s routes, starting with my initial scramble along the southeast ridge (far left) and then the awesome argillite ascent to the summit.

From the high point it was an easy walk to the summit.

The east peak of Ruby Ridge (2407 m).

The east summit is characterized by rows of jagged argillite fins.

Gazing back to the west peak.

A telephoto of Cameron Lake and Mount Custer.

Looking across to Mount Alderson, Buchanan Ridge, and Mount Carthew.

A wide angle to the southeast includes a sliver view of Upper Waterton Lake.

A telephoto of Upper Waterton Lake with Vimy Peak behind it.

Looking east towards Bellevue Hill.

Another look at Mount Dungarvan.

Mount Galwey on the right with “Rogan Peak” on the left.

I wandered down the ridge a bit to get a better look at the east peak’s crimson colour.

Another look at Piinaquiium / Ahkoinimahstakoo (Mount Blakiston) and Ruby Lake.

Pausing for one more wide angle to the south…

And then one more to the west.

Starting along the descent ridge.

Arriving at the top of the first cliff band and looking towards the next two.

The large gully that I partially ascended is the noticeable scar in the centre.

Looking back at the first cliff band that I descended to skier’s right.

Glancing back to the first cliff band (left) and the east summit.

There is no shortage of colour on this mountain!

An even closer look at the scrambling options on the east side of the west peak.

I was tempted to cut across to the base of the southeast ridge and then head directly towards my car (centre)…

Instead, I opted to stick to the ridge.

The view up the last and largest cliff band.

The route along the ridge is obvious.

Playing hide and seek with a deer friend.

The view back after entering the trees.

Travel along this section was slow due to the numerous boulders hidden among the undergrowth.

Enjoying the scenery from the lower section of the ridge.

Arriving at the end of the ridge just prior to reaching the road.

The beauty of a burned forest.

When these trees start to fall, this route will not be so easy…

Arriving back at the road just to the south of the interpretive site for Alberta’s first oil well.

From the point where I arrived back on the road, it was an easy ~850 m walk back to my car.

One last look at the west peak of Ruby Ridge.

Arriving back at the Lineham Lakes trailhead after 4 hours and 7 minutes and 10.4 km. This ended up being an unexpectedly fun ascent, that for me, maximized the experience of colour on Ruby Ridge. I’m sure others use this route and I can definitely see why. What a great way to spend my day off!


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