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Rockies ::  Banff-Louise :: Skoki - Wolverine Ridge

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Panoramic view NW from high point of Wolverine Ridge.  Lake Louise far left, Temple ski area directly across, way into Skoki to the right

Abstract

Overall Difficulty D3/4 Walk on Temple fireroad (or ski-out).  Off-trail hike in Purple Valley and moderately angled ascent to the ridge
Snow Factor S3 Low danger as route stays well right from steep slopes beneath Mt. Redoubt and Unity Peak that have avalanche potential
Scenery Pristine and secluded Purple valley.  Sweeping views from the Ridge.  Close-up of Lipalian Mtn, Unity Peak and Purple Mound
Trail/Marking None Well established Skoki trail for brief time only. Marginal trail and odd cairn in Purple valley, but no route-finding issues
Suggested Time 4 -6 hr Depending on mode of transport - in winter you can ski-out from the ridge back to Fish creek parking in 30-40 min only
Elevation Start: 1680m (Fish Creek Parking)     Max: 2430m     Total: ~800m Round Trip: 17km
Gear Hiking boots and poles; snowshoes or (preferably) skis in winter.  Avalanche gear suggested, but not mandatory
Water Creek draining Purple Valley.   Carry 1L only
Dog Friendly Yes No on-leash restrictions. Note that Skoki is prime griz-country and several dog related accidents have occurred in the past

 

 

Gallery

View back to Louise Core area from Temple ski-out

Skoki trail begins across ski-run at end of Temple road Entering Purple valley;  Unity peak upper center Ski tracks leading to the head of Purple Valley
Interesting looking snow sculptures along the way Avi release between Mt. Redoubt and Unity Peak Brief avalanche danger near low end of Wolverine Ridge Looking back at upper Valley from saddle under Purple Mound
Purple Mound from low end of Wolverine Ridge Start of Wolverine Ridge;  Mt. Richardson center right Ascent of Purple Mound looks straightforward Delightful, open hiking along Wolverine Ridge near high-point
View back from high-point:  Unity left, Purple Mound right Lipalian Mtn, usually climbed from top of Larch chair Continuing to west-end of the ridge with amazing views around Richardson, Pika and Redoubt from west end of the ridge
Closer look at Mt. Richardson;  delightful easy Kane scramble Temple ski-area;  slopes are too steep to descend this way Shadow play on return;  Unity Peak upper right Wolverine Ridge on return;  best of Rockies winter hiking!
Closer look at mostly windswept ridge of Purple Mound Another view of simply delightful east side of Wolverine ridge    

 

Summary

Wolverine Ridge is a true gem;  tucked between Purple valley and Lipalian Mtn. in Skoki area, it offers huge scenic reward with minimal effort. It is really half-day trip - in winter you can ski out from ridge high-point back to Fish Creek parking lot in 30-40 minutes! Pre-requisite is unavoidable trudge up Temple lodge access road;  ski run is marginally better in winter, but still tedious.  Slopes above (very beautiful and pristine) Purple valley are moderately angled and present little avalanche danger in winter conditions;  in summer there is marginal trail, but going is obvious.  This route can also be used as alternate access to Purple Mound - Unity Peak - Lipalian Mtn and might be preferable to normal approach via Larch chair.  Highly recommended for spectacular day out in Louise area!

 

Park at Fish Creek parking lot and head up 4.3km Temple access road to Skoki trailhead. In winter it is better to use ski-out; it will be hard packed and most of the time not require snowshoes (if you are not on skis).  Cross couple of ski runs (caution required!)  above Temple lodge and continue along main trail to Skoki for brief time only till you see Skoki lodge sign. In summer it will be just before double bridged crossing of stream coming down from Purple valley.  Wolverine ridge is directly above but it would be very steep to ascend directly from this side. Instead,  follow marginal trail/ski tracks to Purple valley -- if you can't find them, simply head up as this part is brief and terrain sufficiently open.  Trees thin out soon enough and you enter beautiful and pristine valley below Mt. Redoubt.  Aim for head of the valley below Unity peak, then turn right and ascend moderately angled slopes curling back through stands of larch trees to low saddle below Purple Mound.  In winter there is brief avalanche danger as you traverse base of steep slopes for few minutes only - caution needed.  Once at the saddle superb views unfold; this is perfect spot for the break.  Lipalian mountain is directly across, while gentle slopes to the left can be used for hassle free ascent of Purple Mound. For Wolverine ridge turn right; brief rise leads to 20-30 minutes of flat ridgewalk with spectacular views!  From highpoint it is recommended to descend few minutes to west end, for bird-eye view of Temple ski area -- as well as normal route into Skoki (see Gallery photos).  

 

As trip is short, extension to Purple Mound is highly recommended. Return is the same way, although loop via Lipalian / Larch chair is also feasible. Note that skiers can also use this approach for famous "Pumpkin Patch" tour, as described in Chic Scott guidebook (It loops at east side of Redoubt Mountain to Redoubt Lake, then connects to main Skoki trail at Ptarmigan Lake/Boulder Pass).