“Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)”, 6 August 2023

Today’s three peaks as viewed from the summit of Mount Rowe.

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

Shortly after leaving the summit of Akamina Ridge, Andrew and I looked back and realized that we missed our opportunity for tackling “Akamina Minor”, a small peak located immediately to the southwest. On the summit, we seriously contemplated making the short trip, but in the moment decided not to. Now that we were far below the summit and feeling more energetic, we began to come to terms with our shortsightedness.

Fortunately, another intriguing peak was right in front of us and this time, we did not hesitate in making our decision. Mike Potter – who has written a number of excellent guidebooks – highlights the “Ridge West of Akamina Ridge” as either an optional extension of the Akamina ridgewalk or as its own unique trip; though “either way, it’s a long day but a rewarding one.” (Ridgewalks in the Canadian Rockies, #130). In addition to Potter, Andrew also hiked this interesting ridge in 2011 and simplified the name to “Akamina West”.

As there are two peaks on the ridge with the first one being the highest point, we initially called it “Akamina West 1” (2430 m) and the second peak, “Akamina West 2” (2350 m). However, after getting home and doing more research, we discovered that “Akamina West 2” has a name. Thanks to Rick Collier’s report on Kishinena Ridge and See Peak – and through Figure 4-3 (page 27) in a publicly available guiding application from 2017 – we were able to determine that it is called, Mount Ashman, as it sits above Ashman Lake. Does this mean that the ridge itself should now be called “Ashman Ridge”? 🤔 Perhaps – but then I did even more digging and discovered that Sonny Bou and Zosia Zgolak ascended the peak as part of a multi-day backpacking trip in 2016. As it is located next to Bennett Pass, Zosia nicknamed it, “Bennett Peak” which is also a great name. So what I’ve come up with is hopefully an informative moniker, “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)”. This keeps it connected to both Bennett Pass and the ridge featuring Mount Ashman.

Unfortunately, reaching Mount Ashman would’ve been a substantial addition to the day but I definitely took note of it, because it’s a very unique-looking peak with an insane vertical drop off. Potter also notes that from the summit, you can see a “cliff-girt outcrop” in the headwaters of upper Kintla Creek, speculating that it is a “nunatak: a feature whose summit was never glaciated”. I will definitely return one day and explore this ridge further. 😀

Reaching the summit of “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)” was not difficult and once on top, Andrew and I spent 30 to 40 minutes relaxing while enjoying the views. In particular, we spent considerable time looking at possible routes up See Peak on Kishinena Ridge, which is located immediately to the west. It’s large – at least 2260 m – and is part of a long connecting ridge with King Edward Peak. I think this will definitely be something that we explore someday…

Anyway, after leaving the summit we hiked back to the trail which we followed down to Wall Lake and then back to the Akamina trailhead. From there we walked down the road to my vehicle which was located in the Cameron Lake parking lot. All in all, this was an excellent trip and I feel blessed to have spent yet another day on the land. 😀

To get to Forum Peak, we drove to the Cameron Lake parking lot and then followed the Cameron Lake trail west for a couple hundred metres before leaving it to gain Forum Ridge. The 2017 Kenow wildfire opened this section up making for an easy ascent onto the ridge, where we gained the cutline described by Kane. Once on the cutline it was an easy trip onto the open section of the ridge and to the base of Forum Peak.

From the base, we scrambled up to the first and largest cliff band – the crux. We then headed to climber’s right and at about the 50 m mark, began to scan for a way over this “moderate step” as described by Kane. As indicated, we soon found a couple possible options, though none looked entirely straightforward. I soon zeroed in on route and began to head up. As Andrew had done Forum before, he opted to continue along a series of ledges to the col with Akamina where he would wait for me.

Scrambling up the first cliff band did involve some exposure and some careful maneuvering, but it was short-lived. Once on top, I proceeded to head back to the nose of Forum and try to tackle the subsequent cliff bands as head-on as possible, which is a deviation from Kane. However, the second band also forced me to climber’s right for a short distance, where I found a 3 m high wall with good holds that I could readily scale.

When I was above this, I again headed back to the nose where the remaining bands could be tackled more easily – again, slightly to climber’s right – until I emerged onto the summit. For reference, it took 1 hour and 50 minutes to reach the summit of Forum Peak from the Cameron Lake parking lot.

After enjoying the views on the summit, I headed over to rejoin Andrew at the col where we began the easy hike (~2.3 km from the summit of Forum) to Akamina Ridge. The first highpoint on Akamina looks like a grind from a distance, but it’s only a 130 m elevation gain from the col over ~590 m. There is a trail up to the first high point, but we left it soon after it veered to climber’s left in favour of the shorter distance offered by going straight up the ridge. Again, the terrain is easy.

From the first high point on Akamina, the summit is only ~1 km away (53 m elevation loss and 73 m elevation gain) and it’s an easy walk. We seriously contemplated heading over to the small peak immediately to the southwest of Akamina that Andrew has dubbed “Akamina Minor”, but decided not to, which in hindsight, we should’ve just done. For reference it was ~3.3 km from the summit of Forum Peak to the summit of Akamina Ridge.

From the summit of Akamina Ridge, we continued northwest to a smaller high point located ~860 m away. Though the trail bypasses it, we made the short trip to the top where we took notice of Ashman Ridge which is located only ~2.7 km from the top of the high point (~3.7 km from the summit of Akamina).  We then continued along the trail until we were above the col with the high point on “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)”. From here, it was a relatively quick ~1.3 km trip (63 m elevation loss to Bennett Pass and then a 211 m elevation gain) to reach the summit. We then spent about 30 or 40 minutes on the summit enjoying the views.

We returned the way we came and proceeded to the follow the Akamina Ridge trail back to Wall Lake and then back to the Akamina trailhead and parking lot. From there it was a further ~1 km walk back to the Cameron Lake parking lot and my vehicle.

Our total roundtrip time was 7 hours and 40 minutes and our total distance travelled was 21 km. Total elevation gains came in at 1419 m.

Andrew leads us off the summit of Akamina Ridge.

Glancing down at Wall Lake.

Though the trail bypasses the small high point in front of us, we would not.

Looking back and over at “Akamina Minor”. The connecting ridge looks pretty mild from this side.

Easy hiking.

Heading up the high point.

Glancing back to the summit of Akamina.

Arriving on top of the high point. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

As if to entice us, sunlight illuminates the summit of “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)” (right of centre). (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Zooming in on Anderson Peak (far right), Lost Mountain (right of centre), Spionkop Ridge (centre), and “Kootenai Brown Peak” (left).

Kinnerly Peak (right of centre) and Kintla Peak (centre).

A wider angle of the previous photo with “Akamina Minor” in the foreground.

We couldn’t stop looking at the Agassiz Glacier that sits beneath Mount Peabody (left), Kintla Peak, and Kinnerly Peak (right).

Between 1966 and 2005, the Agassiz Glacier lost ~1/3 of its surface area (source). I’m sure as climate change accelerates it will melt even more rapidly. 😢

Leaving the high point and heading to “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)” (right).

More easy hiking.

The first in a series of Wall Lake photos. 😊

Wall Lake again…

And again…

And again…

And again.

Andrew pauses to check out “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)”.

Leaving the Akamina trail for the col which is known as Bennett Pass.

There was a small trail that we could follow. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Looking back as we make our way down.

Heading up. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

A small tarn sits beneath the col.

A closer look at the tarn.

Glancing back to the point where we left the Akamina trail.

The summit of Akamina Ridge (right of centre) looks really far away.

Festubert Mountain is definitely on my ‘To do’ list.

Nearing the top.

On the shoulder beneath the summit.

The summit of “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)” (2430 m).

A pano to the south…

And then to the west.

Looking southwest…

And now northwest.

The same as the previous photo, but only better. 😊 (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Looking north…

And finally to the east.

A good look at the remainder of the ridge with Mount Ashman on the right. I definitely want to come back and explore this area!

A closer look at Mount Ashman (2350 m). Note the insane vertical drop off! MikePotter notes that from the summit, you can see a “cliff-girt outcrop” in the headwaters of upper Kintla Creek, speculating that it is a “nunatak: a feature whose summit was never glaciated”. (Ridgewalks in the Canadian Rockies, #130) 

King Edward Peak with a mini version of itself in the foreground.

Long Knife Peak.

A closer look at See Peak (right) which is the high point on Kishinena Ridge. I would love to visit this someday! 😀

Another look at Festubert Mountain.

Kishinena Peak (left) and “Sage Senior” (right of centre).

Piinaqiium (Mount Blakiston) (left) and Mount Lineham (right).

Mount Rowe (left), Buchanan Ridge (centre), and Mount Carthew (right).

Mount Peabody (left) and Numa Peak (right).

Gazing over to Akamina Ridge (right of centre).

A closer look at “Akamina Minor”.

Andy “Slash” Nugara. 😂

Time to head back.

Andrew pauses to check out a cool rock formation.

The rock formation itself.

A near windless day made for a pleasant descent.

Reaching Bennett Pass would be a super quick exercise.

Another look at the tarn. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

A large group of hikers on the trail above us.

One last look at “Bennett Peak (Ashman Ridge)” and Bennett Pass.

Arriving back on the Akamina trail.

Great scenery as we descend towards Wall Lake. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Arriving beside “Bennett Pass Peak” (centre).

Just a hunch, but I’m assuming Wall Lake’s name comes from the massive headwall above it? 🤔

More gorgeous scenery.

From here, the trail looks like it goes right to the lake, but it will wind through the trees for several hundred metres before emerging onto the shoreline.

Looking back.

Andrew is almost lost among the fireweed.

Arriving on the shoreline.

Continuing along the trail. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)

Wall Lake is considerably larger than Forum Lake.

Another look at the headwall with the summit of Akamina Ridge (far right) high above.

From here, it will be another 5.4 km to reach the trailhead.

Another look back.

Another look at Wall Lake, this time from its outlet.

Crossing the outlet stream.

There was no shortage of fireweed!

Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium).

Again, there was no shortage of picturesque scenery.

The trail to Wall Lake permits bike use and we were definitely wishing we had ours!

Why is the trail going up? 😂

Arriving onto the Akamina / Kishinena trail.

The trail sign for Wall Lake.

More easy hiking.

At the junction with the Forum Lake trail.

Not far to go now!

Arriving back in Alberta.

Nearing the trailhead…

And we’re there!

Making the ~1 km walk back to the Cameron Lake parking lot.

Arriving back after 21 km and 1419 m in elevation gains.

This was an excellent trip and I’m so glad that Andrew was able to join me, even though it was a repeat for him. I’m glad to finally knock Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge off my list and I look forward to one day to visiting Mount Ashman and hopefully exploring See Peak on Kishinena Ridge. 😀

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