“Rogan Peak” (East Face Route), 6 March 2021

“Rogan Peak” (2442 m) as viewed from the summit of Lakeview Ridge. This was a fantastic late winter / early spring trip that took advantage of ideal snow conditions for ascent (blue), followed by an easy route off the mountain (yellow). A variation of Nugara’s east face scramble, I’m sure this track has been enjoyed by many over the years.

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

This was my third consecutive trip to Horseshoe Basin, and once again, it ended up being a superb day in the mountains. Not only did I get to spend time with two amazing friends, but our ascent was highly enjoyable.

Blandly labelled as Dungarvan SE2 on the map, “Rogan Peak” is located between Mount Galwey and Mount Dungarvan on Waterton’s front range. Andrew unofficially gave the mountain its name a few years ago, after the birth of his nephew, Rogan. Originally, he had called it, “Dunwey Peak” – a combination of Dungarvan and Galwey – but Rogan’s birth prompted him to make the change and then canonize it within the third edition of, More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. Now that’s one cool uncle! 😁

Today’s ascent fell between the east face route described in, More Scrambles (and highlighted by Andrew in his September 2010 trip report) and the book’s easier north ridge route, also described by Andrew in his March 2017 report.

Indeed, even though we were undecided on a route during our approach, we could see that it was too treacherous for the book’s east face scramble. That’s when Andrew and Brad suggested a compromise: utilizing a large, snow-filled drainage that led directly towards a manageable section of the east face. This was a brilliant decision and we enjoyed an excellent ascent, with Brad and I sticking to the main drainage while Andrew opted for an adjacent gully to satisfy his craving for red argillite. 😁 Save for a few white-knuckle moments while trying to overcome the cornice near the summit, the route to this point was near perfect.

Once past the cornice and on the ridge, we endured a brief, but intense snow squall as we made our way to the summit. However, the sky soon cleared enough for us to take in the views, before making the easy descent along Rogan’s north ridge. While the two old men in our group took a much-needed break at the col, Brad made an insanely quick trip to tag the summit of Lakeview Ridge, before rejoining us for an enjoyable hike back along the Horseshoe Basin trail.

I’m not sure what the drainage would be like for travel without snow, but for a late winter / early spring ascent of a pretty cool peak, it was a fantastic route that I’m sure many have enjoyed over the years. 😁

Be sure to read Andrew’s trip report!

To get to Rogan from Lethbridge, drive north from the Waterton Park gate on Highway 6 for ~2 km until you come to the Bison Paddock Road on your left. If it is closed, park off to the side but on the pavement and hike the ~1.4 km to the trailhead. If it isn’t closed, you’re already winning the day, so cheerfully drive and park at the trailhead.

From the trailhead, we followed the Horseshoe Basin trail for ~6 km until we came to a large drainage on the east side of Rogan. This was our ascent route and the point where we left the trail.

Once inside the drainage, we hiked for ~770 m until we came to fork where the main drainage continues to the left and a smaller gully continues to the right. This is where Andrew separated from Brad and I to follow the smaller gully.

From this point on, the main drainage follows a direct line towards the cliff bands on the east face of Rogan, with the grade steepening accordingly. Approximately ~600 m from the first fork, the drainage forks again, with the left path leading to the steepest section of cliffs and the right, to a more moderate route. We chose the moderate route for obvious reasons, though in the summer, we would have probably stayed to the left.

We followed the moderate route for quite some time until we were directly underneath the upper section of the north ridge and approximately 350 m from the summit. This was where the grade became deceptively steep and when combined with ice and a large overhanging cornice, made for a short but tricky negotiation onto the ridge.

Once on the north ridge, it was a ~350 m hike to the summit followed by a quick jaunt to a smaller high point located to the west. In total it was an ~843 m elevation gain from the start of the drainage to the summit.

To descend, we followed Rogan’s north ridge for ~3.2 km to the col with Lakeview Ridge, and from there, back the way we came on the Horseshoe Basin trail.

Our total roundtrip distance was 24 km with total elevations of 1479 m. Our roundtrip time was 9 hours and 25 minutes.

Starting off at the entrance to the Bison Paddock Road. The road is closed to vehicle traffic, but open to hikers. From here, it is a ~1.4 km walk to the trailhead.

Arriving at the Horseshoe Basin trailhead with “Rogan Peak” on the right and Bellevue Hill on the left.

Even though the trail is a giant loop, we would stay exclusively on the southern half.

The trail will begin to gain elevation after passing this junction.

Navigating an icy section of trail as we make our way up the small ridge next to Bellevue Hill.

After gaining ~196 m over ~2.3 km from the trailhead, we begin the descent into Horseshoe Basin. On the left is Mount Galwey while “Rogan Peak” is on the right.

Brad finds a casualty of winter.

Crossing a dry creek bed not long after the trail curves to the north.

Gazing back towards Bellevue Hill.

Approaching the ascent drainage (left) with the col between Rogan’s north ridge and Lakeview Ridge in the distance. The col is the highest point on the trail and is roughly the halfway point of the 20.8 km loop.

Brad and Andrew look towards Rogan’s summit from the entrance to the drainage. This is the point (~6 km from the trailhead) where we left the trail.

Starting up the drainage.

Andrew performs a Vulcan mind meld on some rock. 😂

The route lays out before us. The ridge on the left is part of the east face route in, More Scrambles.

We would end up following the snow gully that leads to the right of the cliffs.

Easy and delightful travel.

Some interesting argillite.

Hiking past a small ice wall.

Drawing closer to the first fork. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Approximately 770 m from where we entered the drainage, we came to a major fork. Andrew decided to satisfy his craving for red argillite by keeping to the right and ascending an adjacent gully (centre)…

While Brad and I stuck to main drainage.

The drainage widens just beyond the fork.

Passing a small rock band.

An extremely foreshortened view from above the rock band.

Time to put on our crampons – and yes, I did it correctly this time. 😂

I lead the way towards the next fork. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)

My view back to Brad and Lakeview Ridge.

Continuing our foreshortened ascent.

Despite the deceptive distance, the snow made everything easier.

Arriving at the next fork where we will keep to climber’s right. The left branch leads directly onto the cliffs beneath the summit – which would be fair game under summertime conditions. Hmmm, I wonder what Andrew is up to? 🤔

While Brad and I were enjoying the main drainage, Andrew was revelling in the red argillite of the adjacent gully.  (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

More from Andrew’s wonder gully. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

And still more from Andrew. You definitely need to read his trip report! [link coming] (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Now, back to us… 😁

Not only was the snow perfect, so was the weather – at least to this point. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)

Had we brought skis, the drainage would have been an excellent run. Heck, it would be a great glissade!

A better perspective of the grade.

Our route will eventually take us beneath the large cornice on the right.

After enjoying his ascent of the argillite gully, Andrew (right) rejoins us near the top.

Andrew’s view of the previous photo. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Now fuelled by red argillite, Andrew joins in on the fun.

Checking out the views to the south.

Nearing the end of the line for good snow.

All three peaks on Lakeview Ridge are now visible.

Once the snow disappeared, Andrew and Brad left the gully to scramble some rock bands.

However, I stayed inside the ever-narrowing gully, partly because I was too lazy to take off my crampons.

Brad and Andrew continue their brief scramble.

Arriving at the section beneath the ridge.

Andrew’s perspective of the previous photo. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Getting past this impressive cornice would be the crux of the trip.

While Brad gears up, I set my sights on reaching the section of cornice to the right of centre. From this angle it looked like a good route… from this angle only… 😳 (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Increasingly sketchy terrain.  (Photo by Brad Wolcott)

Meanwhile, Brad uses his expertise to pick a better route.

From this vantage, Andrew could quickly assess who had “chosen wisely” and who had “chosen… poorly.”  😂 (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Brad kick steps his way up…

Until he is almost at the top. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Brad’s view after successfully climbing above the cornice. It would take me several minutes to traverse over to his route. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)

Andrew wisely decided to follow Brad from the outset. This is also when the weather took an unexpected turn for the worse. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)

I begin my tricky traverse. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Made it! The moral of the story? Always bet on Brad. 😁 (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

After joining Andrew and Brad on the ridge, we begin the ~350 m hike to the summit.

Driving snow made the final section seem farther than it actually was.

Continuing along the ridge.

Andrew leads the way – which is good, since this is his fourth time on this peak. 😊

Almost at the summit.

Andrew and Brad arrive well ahead of me…

But that’s okay, because I was bringing better weather with me. I know this because moments after I arrived, a voice called out from a cloud, “Arthur,  Arthur, King of the Britons.”  Then the sky began to clear and we could see things more clearly. 😂😂  Thus, I hereby present the summit of “Rogan Peak” (2442 m).

A wide angle to the south.

A closer look at Mount Galwey (left) and the north summit of Galwey (right).

A pano to the west. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

The view to the east with Lakeview Ridge in the foreground.

Immediately to the northwest sits Mount Dungarvan, which is high on my 2021 hit list. Edit: done! 😊

The view to the north includes “Kesler Lake Peak” (centre).

Brad and Andrew head towards a nearby high point.

And as they arrive, the sky to the west clears even more.

The view back to the summit. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Gazing over at Bellevue Hill and our route into the Horseshoe Basin,

Another look over at Galwey with Mount Crandell behind it.

A closer look at Ruby Ridge.

To the right of Ruby Ridge sits Mount Blakiston, which I also need to get around to this year.

A beclouded Anderson Peak sits to the northwest.

Another look at Mount Dungarvan.

Returning to the summit.

Brad’s first peak of the day.

As I mentioned before, this was Andrew’s fourth time on the summit of Rogan.

This was definitely a fun ascent. You can tell from my animated body language. 😂

Time to leave.

A great pano to the north. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Looking back at Andrew.

Brad walks past where we climbed over the cornice. The long, ~3.2 km north ridge would provide us with an easy descent.

A few interesting steps along the ridge.

Andrew navigates a small gap.

Brad continues to lead the way.

Heading up and over a couple of bumps. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Looking back to the summit.

Brad begins to set his sights on Lakeview Ridge (right).

Brad and Andrew (left of centre) stand on top of a high point. This is when Brad decided to head over and tag Lakeview.

This cliff band was easily negotiated. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

With youthful Brad off to bag another peak, the remaining old men saunter towards the col. 😂

A very cool tree.

Gazing back along the ridge.

Arriving at the col.

A closer look at the east face of Rogan.

Brad was almost 3/4 of the way up Lakeview by the time we came to his pack.

Brad approaches the top…

His second summit of the day!

Brad’s very interesting ‘tiger claw’ selfie… 🤔 (Photo by Brad Wolcott)

A telephoto of our route from the summit of Lakeview Ridge.  We used the lower branch (centre) of the main drainage. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)

Brad rejoins us after making it up and back in only 25 minutes. 😳 Andrew and I were tired just thinking about Lakeview, let alone actually joining him.

We debated following the remainder of the Horseshoe Trail to complete the loop, but decided it would be quicker to return the way we came.

Brad (lower left) leads us off the col.

Gazing back to the col which is the highest point on the Horseshoe Basin trail. Whoever created those switchbacks definitely loved their job… 🤔

It was a very pleasant hike back.

The entrance to the drainage from the trail. The ridge on the left is what Andrew used for the east face route in, More Scrambles.

One last telephoto of the east face. Boy that was a fun ascent!

Heading south towards Bellevue Hill.

If the warmer weather continues, I doubt this creek will remain dry for much longer.

Regaining elevation as we leave the basin.

A final look back.

Nasty weather over Sofa Mountain (left) and Vimy Peak (centre).

The icy trail from earlier in the day is now mud.

Arriving back at the trailhead.

Making the ~1.4 km walk back to our car. A small number of bison were recently reintroduced to the paddock after being absent since the 2017 Kenow wildfire.

Thanks Rogan! You were a fun peak!

Arriving back at our vehicles after 24 km and 9 hours and 25 minutes. As I mentioned in my intro, this was a fantastic day for two reasons: 1) I was able to spend an entire day with two amazing friends – much of it spent laughing and in good conversation; and 2) our ascent was a super enjoyable experience. That Andrew has unofficially named this peak after his nephew is so cool. I know I’m late to the Waterton game after spending much of the last decade in the Pass and the Castle, but – Lord willing – I’m looking forward to visiting the area more this year.

2 comments

  1. As always lovely report Dave! Truly beautiful location and the photo of “Another look over at Galwey with Mount Crandell behind it.” looks really amazing!

    By looking at this photo, I got immense wish to visit these mountains and the ridge that I see in the photo.

    Thanks for the time and effort you invest on your blog!

    1. Thank you! We will need to visit each other’s stomping grounds one day! I would LOVE to try my hand at some of the destinations you describe, especially with the history that is attached to them.

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