Elevation: 2,566 m
Location: Waterton Lakes National Park, AB
Climbing Partners: Luke Booker & Matt Southcott
According to peakfinder.com, Dungarvan is an Irish term for a “rough and broken mountain”. I read this now as I begin to write my account of our scramble up to its peak and think back to the gorgeous day on which we did it. I have a tendency to look back on these endeavours and remember the vistas, the conversations and the sense of accomplishment I would feel. Translation: none of the rough and broken parts. Yes, there is a lot of bushwhacking and trail finding work to be done at the outset of this climb. As you reach the rock, moving hand over hand and finding shelves for that hiking boot sole to rest down on, the route is known only to you by way of a much further objective. But this is all part of the fun. And a lot of fun it is on this ever-changing mountain that is broken into segments of scrambling, ridge walking, chimney climbing and breeze cooled respites with views you will never forget.
This was Meg and I’s first trip into Waterton Lakes National Park, arriving in the dark as this is usually the case when making a trek to the mountains from Edmonton (our home at the time). Also, as is often the case, we were greeted in the morning by lush dew drenched green, towering grey giants and a captivating coverage of blue. I will never tire of that feeling and have no plans on stopping the chase.
The night before, we had called upon the wisdom of the internet and read about all of the potential lying outside of our campsite. Feeling good and with fresh legs we decided to tackle one of the more significant mountains in the northern ridge line of Red Rock parkway.
We decided to push our way through the brush, deadfall and branches to access the ridge that would take us to the scrambling we were after. A little effort led to a beautiful walk on this ridge and gave us a first taste of the views that would come from a successful attempt at standing on top of Dungarvan.
Traveling fairly light, harnesses and a half-rope for safety, we kept a steady pace to the start of the low-grade climbing. This had to have been some of the best scrambling I have ever done and Meg readily agreed. This was the first time we had done something of this scale together and I was definitely impressed how well she did with a foot less of body length to work with. She’s short. But don’t call her timid.
We came upon a scree slide portion that also bled some of the snow off of the mountain in streams and into our empty water bottles. Happy for a spot to sit down and throw back some ice cold water, we re-energized listening to the running water and digging into some trail mix.
Ready for the next substantial vertical sections we then began grabbing for those prized views by way of hand and footholds.
For the last stretch of climbing there was a small, chimney to negotiate. It was a fun and slightly challenging finish to the day.
On the top we sat and enjoyed what we had earned, an unobstructed 360-degree view of Waterton park.
I have only ever done one scramble in Waterton, so Mt Dungarvan is easily my favourite. It is involved (and you should bring some gear for safety) but if you have the experience and are up for the challenge you will not regret doing this classic.