Added by James Hueser
Brave the waters of the Elbow to scramble up a moss covered slope to reach the sheer cliffs that make up Iyarhe Ipan.
Iyarhe Ipan means "mountain point" in Stoney, and while it's far from the highest peak you'll ever climb, it certainly is worth it. Iyarhe Ipan was the fix for the scrambling itch I've had all winter.
Before Highway 66 opens in the summer, you'll have to park your car at Elbow Falls parking lot and start hiking from there. You won't have far to go before you meet the first - and only - major obstacle of this hike. You will have to cross the Elbow river. Try to find the smoothest spot - remember that wide parts are shallow, and narrow parts are deep. Also, remember to breathe. Freezing cold water up to your - hopefully - knees isn't the easiest mental exercise. I highly recommend bringing hiking poles as those extra points of contact are life saving as you wade through the river - you'll definitely notice the current. Even better would be some shoes or sandals you don't mind getting wet - cold, bare feet on the rock isn't fun, but it is doable.
After crossing the river, take a minute to warm up - you'll thank yourself for bringing a small towel to stand on and wipe your legs off with. Once your boots are tied back up, head south and aim for the east slope of the mountain (Iyarhe Ipan is ridge directly south of Elbow Falls, and starts almost immediately south of the riverbed). The eastern slope is steep, and tree and moss covered, but was surprisingly easy to walk up - not much ice or loss of traction on the moss. There's not really an official trail up to the top, and there's not even a well-defined trail. Most trails you'll find are sheep trails which contour around the mountain. If you stick to the northern part of the slope, you'll get your first views once you pop out of the trees, but you'll have to continue walking up the ridge line to get to the top. You'll basically keep heading straight up until you get to the top.
Once at the top, you'll get a great view of the beautiful ridge line topped with cliffs. The high point is to the south, and can offer some nicer views into the closed off area of Bragg Creek - nice views of the peaks in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland as well! For those wanting a longer hike and different views to the south, continue along the ridge, which turns into Swany's Ridge. When heading back down, I suggest following the ridge all the way back instead of heading back down the slope early as there are a couple gullies that might throw you for a loop.
- Hiking boots
- Hiking poles
- Water and snacks
- Bear spray
- Appropriate layers
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Added by James Hueser
On weekdays I'm a hydrogeologist for a contaminated sites group which involves a ton of fieldwork throughout the spring, summer, and fall, but leaves most of my weekends to get out to (and hopefully on top of) the Rockies. I'm originally from Saskatchewan, so I've become rather obsessed with bagging peaks ever since I moved to Calgary in 2014.Follow
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