Newman Peak, 3 September 2023

Newman Peak (2515 m) as viewed from the summit of Avion Ridge.

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Since everyone and their dog has tagged Newman Peak and Avion Ridge – no joke, I met a couple and their dog heading up Newman today – I always knew this trip would be a solo excursion. Newman in particular, held a bit of unfinished business for me after Andrew and I were caught in a freak weather event in August 2022 that unexpectedly forced us off the col between “Newman Senior” and Newman Peak. We still talk about that sudden change in weather and how lucky we were to be on such a benign mountain; otherwise, things could’ve been much, much worse.

Unfortunately, our hurried descent into the Yarrow Creek valley meant that Newman Peak remained on my Paahtómahksikimi (Waterton) ‘To Do’ list along with Avion Ridge – two easy peaks that can be tackled by simply following a trail. As fun as it was, this trip was a bit of a weekend consolation as I was unable to join either Brad and Dave on their successful multi-pitch climb up the southwest face of Mount Parrish or Andrew and Mark on their successful ascent of Mount Grinnell in Glacier National Park. I was however, extremely grateful to be invited on both trips and it’s too bad that my free day this weekend didn’t line up with theirs. However, I’ve already begun pestering Brad to see if he’d be up for a return trip to drag my old ass up Parrish. 😂

One thing that I’ve always wondered is, who was Newman and whose cornflakes did he pee in? I say this because Newman Peak (2515 m) sits next to the very prominent and unnamed, “Newman Senior”, (2640 m) that in reality should have an official name, and which Newman obviously wasn’t worthy of. 🤔 Online searches revealed no information about Newman the person, but weirdly, I discovered that you can find more summit photos of dogs on Newman Peak, than you can about the history of the mountain. Fortunately, I’m a Gen X’er and still own hardcopies of books and it was in the 1972 edition of 2000 Place Names of Alberta by Eric J. Holmgren and Patricia M. Holmgren that I found my answer. Newman Peak was named by Thomas Blakiston in 1858 after the English naturalist, Edward Newman, who lived from 1810 to 1875.

This led me back online where I learned that in 1843, Newman published, The Zoologist, which became one of England’s longest running citizen science publications on Natural History until it ended in 1916 – well after his death. (source) Of Newman, the University of Oxford notes:

Born into a Quaker family in 1801, Newman originally entered the rope-making business, but an early interest in natural history (and entomology in particular) led him to become a partner in the printing firm of George Luxford (1807-1854), of which he very soon became the sole owner. Residing in London, Newman was embedded within the networks of leading naturalists, and was a founding member of the Entomological Society of London in 1833. He published widely on a surprising range of topics, with his most respected work regarding butterflies and moths. However, Newman also turned his hand to other topics with varying degrees of success, notably an article (published in the Zoologist) in which he argued pterodactyls to be marsupial bats. (source)

So there you go. A little detective work and I’ve discovered who Newman Peak was named for. I wonder if Newman rejected one of Blakiston’s articles hence, naming the tiny peak after him and not the big one? I’m sure when Blakiston found out he muttered, “Newman!” and then with a smirk wrote back to him, ” Dear Sir, I have named a mighty peak after you on the northwest frontier of the Rocky Mountains, an area of which the entirety I named for another naturalist that you might know, Mr. Charles Waterton.” 😂 Ah, history humour. Only us nerds will laugh…

Anyway, knocking off Newman Peak and Avion Ridge was a fun trip that required little of me other than to enjoy the scenery and engage in pleasant conversations with a few backpackers (once an extrovert, always an extrovert 😂). The crux was trying to leave the upper Red Rock Canyon parking lot at the end of the day. It took 25 minutes of sitting in a mini traffic jam to simply get onto the road. Yikes!

To get to Newman Peak and Avion Ridge, I started in the Red Rock parking lot and biked the snowshoe trail for ~4.5 km until I arrived at the trailhead for Goat Lake. Here, I ditched my bike and made the ~2.5 km hike up to the lake. For reference it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the lake from the parking lot and I was a bit surprised to see that I had gained 522 m in elevation.

From the lake, I then followed the signed, ‘Snowshoe Via Avion Ridge’ trail for ~1.6 km (and almost exactly 1 hour) to the Avion / Newman col. Reaching Newman Peak from the col was simply a matter of following a beaten path for ~630 m to the top which took me about 15 minutes. In total, it took me 2.5 hours from the parking lot to reach the summit of Newman Peak. Of this there was a total elevation gain of 1061 m and a total distance of 10.3 km.

Reaching Avion Ridge from Newman was simply a matter of returning to the col and deciding whether to follow the ridge to the top of what Andrew calls, “Avion’s Brother” before descending back to the trail over to Avion, or avoiding the ridge an merely following the trail. Of course, it was a no-brainer to follow the ridge! This entailed an easy ~970 m hike from the col with an elevation gain of 105 m.

From the summit of “Avion’s Brother”, I had a clear view of Avion Ridge and the ~1.8 km of distance to reach it. I made the easy scree descent (~145 m elevation loss) to the col where I rejoined the trail that I then followed to the summit of Avion (~139 m elevation gain). For reference, it took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the summit of Avion Ridge from Newman Peak.

To return, I bypassed “Avion’s Brother’ using the “Snowshoe via Avion Ridge Trail”. From the Avion / Newman col, I descended back to Goat Lake where I made a leisurely stroll around the perimeter of the lake spotting cruising cutthroats. I then returned back down the trail to where I left my bike on the Snowshoe Trail. I then made the very quick (12 minutes) ~4.5 km ride back to my vehicle.

My total distance travelled was 27 km and my total roundtrip time was 7 hours and 10 minutes. Had I not stopped to chat with friendly backpackers or taken a leisurely stroll around the perimeter of Goat Lake on my way back, my total time would’ve been closer to 6 hours. Total elevation gains came in at 1497 m.

Gearing up in the Red Rock parking lot. At the end of the day, it would take me 25 minutes just to leave the lot due to the insane number of vehicles.

The Snowshoe trailhead. Though Red Rock Canyon was extremely busy, I encountered few people beyond this point.

Starting off along the trail.

“Avion’s Brother” is in the centre with Avion Ridge on the left.

The forecast was for clear skies in the morning with increasing cloud in the afternoon. Of course, along with the clouds came the wind, which was relentless throughout the day, but then again, it’s southwestern Alberta and it’s now September, so it will be windy for at least the next 10 months. 😂 Avion Ridge is on the left with an outlier of “Newman Senior” on the right.

After biking for ~4.5 km (25 minutes), I came to the Goat Lake trailhead.

I will stash my bike in the trees and follow the steep but easy trail to the lake,

I got off to a later start than I’m used to, so I was surprised to have the trail all to myself.

The views begin to come as I gain some elevation. Anderson Peak is on the left.

Looking past Anderson at “Kootenai Brown Peak” (left), Mount Bauerman (left of centre), and Kishinena Peak (centre).

A closer look at Bauerman (left) and Kishinena (centre).

This will be my last clear look at Kishinena. Dark clouds will keep it in the shadows for the remainder of the day.

Continuing along the trail.

The transformation of fireweed from a lush green to blazing red and orange is a sure sign that Fall is close at hand.

Andrew’s scramble route for “Newman Senior” and Newman Peak starts up the rock on the right.

Andrew calls this outlier, “Goat Lake Peak”. Though it looks impressive from here, it’s only a model – I mean, it doesn’t look that big once you’re on the ridge. 😂

If you like waterfalls, then this trip is for you!

Glancing back at Anderson Peak (centre) and “Kootenai Brown Peak” (right).

The upper section of the large waterfall that I showed earlier.

Getting closer to Goat Lake.

Another waterfall…

And then another.

Arriving at Goat Lake 1 hour and 15 minutes after leaving the parking lot. I was surprised to see that I had gained 522 m in elevation.

Self explanatory, though at first glance I thought the French said, ‘Lake Ghost’ and I began to look for weird reflections or dismembered appendages underwater. It was only when I saw my own reflection that I realized there wasn’t a ghost, but a goblin. 😂

I soon spotted a number of cruising cutthroats. On my way back, I would spend time circling the lake and spotting them.

The sign at the entrance to the campground.

This is the trail that I followed to the col.

Leaving the campground and heading to the Avion / Newman col (centre).

Another waterfall. I was happy to see that there was still water flowing above the lake considering how dry things have been.

A quick look back as I gain elevation.

Zeroing in on Goat Lake. Be prepared for a lot of photos like this…

The trail will wind its way through the cliff band. This is where I met the young couple and their dog who were heading to Newman Peak. They were camping at Goat Lake and were heading up to see the sights.

Looking up at the col. The trail will soon veer to the right before switching back and heading over to the col.

Glancing back from the upper section of the trail.

Easy hiking.

Arriving at the Avion / Newman col. It only took me an hour from the lake to reach this point.

The official trail to Avion Ridge skirts to climber’s right of the rock band, but a nice little trail leads to the top. From here it follows the ridge over to “Avion’s Brother”.

Gazing into Tatsiki-Miistáki (Castle).

The view from the col back to the lake.

From the col, it will only take me 15 minutes to reach the summit of Newman Peak.

More easy hiking.

Another look down to the lake.

Sage Mountain is on my ‘To Do’ list.

The summit of Newman Peak (2515 m). From the parking lot to here, it took me 2.5 hours over a distance of 10.3 km with a total elevation gain of 1061 m.

A pano to the south…

And then to the west.

Looking to the north…

And finally to the east. “Newman Senior” is front and centre and the col in the foreground is where Andrew and I encountered the weather event in 2022.

Looking past “Newman Senior” to Spread Eagle Mountain (centre) and Mount Yarrow (right).

“Bakery Peak” (centre) sits on the northeast end of Loaf Mountain. This is still one of my favourite front range scrambles. 🙂

Continuing along Loaf to “Pastry Peak” (centre). Sensing a theme…?

The summit of Loaf Mountain.

Gazing over to the summit of Spionkop Ridge. I was briefly tempted to head over and tag it again…

Looking over at “Sage Senior”(centre). Yet another mountain on my ‘To Do’ list.

A clear view of my route for the rest of the day. In the foreground is “Avion’s Brother” with the summit of Avion Ridge behind it.

A closer look at Anderson Peak (centre) and Lost Mountain (right). The summit of Piinaquiium / Ahkoinimahstakoo (Mount Blakiston) is on the far left with Mount Hawkins located behind the summit of Lost.

Kootenai Brown Peak

After today, Lone Mountain and Festubert Mountain (both in the centre) are the only official summits that I have left in this area of Paahtómahksikimi (Waterton). Edit: Lone is now done! Outside of Festubert, Vimy Ridge (Arras Peak) and Mount Boswell are the only other official summits that I’ve yet to visit.

Looking down at Goat Lake.

An even closer look. The small outlier known as “Goat Lake Peak” that looked mighty from the lower section of the trail, doesn’t look so big from this here.

The cairn and register.

Nice! 🙂

It was so windy that I was worried things would blow away, but the register contained matches, sweetgrass, and instructions on how to smudge. Had it not been so windy, I definitely would’ve tried this.

Click to follow me to Avion Ridge.

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