Fossil Mtn
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Fossil Mountain - Lake Louise Skoki Area

November 1st Overnight Scramble

Well, I talked my friend into a late season scramble. The original plan was to hike into Hidden Lake campground and scramble Mt. Richardson a 10,216 ft peak. Observing the weather and watching the Lake Louise ski hill web cam seemed to indicate it was a possibility. Arriving at the Lake Louise visitor center we were told there was a half a foot of snow in the valley. Still okay in our minds we paid for a camping spot and started hoofing it up the trail. Of course God reminded me I had left my camera in the car. Hoof it back for that. Our evening went well, temperatures only down to -3c. Thank God for down clothing and sleeping bags. He didn't create a cartoon world did he? Although we have broken it there is still the beauty of the original creation evident.

In the morning we observed our original objective which had quite a bit of snow on the lower slabby slopes. We both agreed Mt Richardson would be much more enjoyable in better conditions and set our sights on Fossil Mountain instead. The weather cooperated and temperatures were above zero the whole day +6c by afternoon even though the photos show winter conditions. Energy levels were good, scenery was great and it proved to be a very rewarding day. If you are winter equipped as we were and the objective in reasonable condition shoulder season scrambles can be a very good experience. I would say that my cell phone had no service anywhere in the valley even on top of Fossil Mountain. Enjoy these photos.

Looking down at Temple Lodge

Halfway Hut at 8:30am Saturday morning November 1, 2008

Good biffy nearby

Looking back from Boulder Pass at Mt Temple

Looking forward from Boulder Pass to our objective Fossil Mountain

Fossil Mountain and Ptarmigan Lake in full view from Boulder Pass

The slope up Fossil is very foreshortened in this view

Looking back down the steep ascent slope

Brachiopod mountain - another area scramble

The upper slope you don't see clearly from Deception Pass

Just a short ridge walk to the summit cairn and memorial for the Hugo cousins

Our summit photo

The view

Descent slopes to the right of our ascent route

Ascent and descent routes

A happy camper and scrambler on his way back

Another view of Mt Temple

Returning from Boulder Pass to Halfway Hut

Boulder Pass and Fossil Mountain taken from Halfway Hut

Mt. Richardson our original objective

On our way home

Mt Temple from the Temple Lodge gravel road

Al is heading home.

Fossil Mountain - Lake Louise Skoki Area

Scramble: Class 1+ – Steep Hiking, Putting Hands Down for Balance

Altitude: 2,946m (9,663 ft)

Elevation Gain: 1,236m (4,054 ft) from the parking lot

670m (2,198ft) from Deception Pass

Ascent Time: 4 – 5 Hours Approx 12.7 km one way

Best Season to Scramble: June to September


This scramble takes you into the outstanding scenery of the Skoki Lodge area. Summer scrambling and winter ski trips are highly recommended. August and early September are best as mosquito’s can be quite annoying in the early summer due to the abundant water in the area. You can book a backcountry camping spot near Halfway Hut and Hidden Lake to spread the effort over more than one day, cost $10/ night. Otherwise it is doable in a long day trip. Some use the camping approach and stay for a few days as there are quite a few other scrambles only a short hike away. Mt Richardson, Pika Peak and Ptarmigan Peak are all accessible from Hidden Lake as well as others near Fossil Mountain.

Getting There

Head west out of Calgary on the TransCanada highway # 1 to Lake Louise 187km (116.9 miles). If your base is Banff head west on the TransCanada for 56km (35.0 miles) to Lake Louise. There is only one exit so keep your eye out for it. From the exit head right up the road towards the Lake Louise Ski hill instead of left into the Lake Louise town site. Take another right onto a gravel road just past the paved 1A turnoff. This gravel road takes you to the small parking lot for those heading into the Skoki area. Gemtrek maps call it the Fish Creek parking lot. Movable sign at the lot said Skoki Lodge parking.

Route Description

From the parking lot head up the gravel road for 3.8 km to the Temple Lodge Ski area. Around 1 hour to cover this distance. Note that near the end you take the right fork in the road not the left. Left takes you down to the ski lifts and Temple Lodge which is the wrong spot to access the Skoki trail. The right hand fork takes you above the Temple Lodge area to a small building. From here head up the slope a couple of minutes and you will pick up the signed trail entering the trees. From this spot its 3.5 km or about a 1 hour walk to Halfway Hut. There is an outdoor biffy at the Hut. From Halfway Hut it’s another 1.2 km or 25 minutes to reach Boulder Pass. Fossil Mountain comes into full view as well as Ptarmigan Lake and Deception Pass distant left. Looking back from Boulder Pass gives a great view of Mt. Temple. Continue on the trail on the left side of Ptarmigan Lake for 2.9 km or about 45 minutes to Deception Pass. From Deception Pass the route is obvious, get your quads ready for a workout of 1.3 km and 2,200 ft. From Deception Pass you climb the grassy knoll and have to descend a bit to get on the final slope proper which is always a bit annoying losing elevation. Most parties go straight up the slope and descend scree and snow slopes farther right.