Lady Mac SE Ridge Scramble Attempt

Trip Date: August 9, 2016
Trip time: 7 hours
Distance: 12.2 kms
Elevation Gain: 1,000m
Route: Dow Williams on
Difficulty: 5.5 trad/climbers scramble

Click here for GPS & map

Trip Report:

The SE ridge of Lady Mac offers a true test of ones scrambling abilities. On August 9, 2016 I set off to scope it out and see if I could make it go first try without too much fuss. I made it to the ‘second corner’ with only a couple minor difficult scrambling moves and steep hiking. At the second corner is where the actual climbing begins. Under threat of thunderstorm I spent about 2.5 hours pacing the base of the wall, scoping and testing lines making it painfully close to the ridge proper but not having that extra bit of courage needed to make the final moves to gain the ridge, which of course required some very intense down-climbing to get back to the base…probably riskier than if I’d actually gone for it. I became so intent on passing this section that I even used a tree at one point to get above a tricky spot and boost me a few precious meters higher, and judging by some broken branches I wasn’t the first (so much for fair means!). I wanted it so badly but it just wasn’t my day, I wasn’t feeling the line like I usually can. Growing short on food, water and time I ruefully called the attempt and bailed down the scree slope at the base…which turned out to be a pretty sketchy descent line that required 4 rappels. If you tuck tail like I did, best to return the same way.

Confidence a little rattled I decided surely the only way to climb the SE ridge ‘by fair means’ would be with rock shoes or at least approach shoes. My trail runners just didn’t feel adequate to grip some of the smaller holds.

Then of course this happened:

I bumped into Shane Ison right at the base of the SE ridge where it terminates into Cougar Creek. Despite the thunderstorm he was also headed up in trail runners (the same make and model I wear!) but without a rope or any other gear. Shane made the trip in 3 hours and 25 minutes no worries whatsoever…confirming my hunch that the trip is possible as a scramble, click here to see his GPS track.

I will return, and I will complete this route by fair means as Williams and Ison have shown is totally possible, probably with approach shoes instead of trail runners tho. Ison is a maniac!


Looking to Canmore from somewhere on the SE ridge hike approach


The closest I made it was about 3/4 of the way up this pitch but the overhang stuffed me. Was a tricky down-climb.


This is why you shouldn’t take alternate descents on scrambles…unless you have your rap gear! Unexpectedly cliffy!