Elevation Gain: ~approx. 950 m (3,000 ft); Distance: 13 kms; Max. el.: ~approx. 2,450 m (~8,000 ft)
Sofa Mountain is a great early season scramble on the edge of the mountains. Located south of Waterton Lakes, you get a seldom viewed vantage point of the area's peaks.
We arrived at the lookout point south of the park gate on Chief Mountain highway and pondered trekking into the woods to make a beeline for the cliffs of the North ridge.
Luckily we decided to scout further down the road for access with less bushwhacking. Just a couple of minutes from the lookout point on the Chief mountain highway, we found a small parking area where we spotted a trail that lead us to our ascent route up Sofa. There were a few blue markers along the trail, reminiscent of trail markers for cross country skiing.
The trail was a bit over 3 kms long and lead right into the basin below the cliff walls. We ascended the north ridge and took a zillion photos, then made our way over the broad ridge that lead to the summit.
We did a loop and descended by the south ridge and had fun glissading down a snow patch. As we dropped down we saw a large bear (undecided if it was a Grizzly or a black bear, it was so far away) ambling through the meadows that we had to cross to get back to the car. This is indeed bear country, and I heard from some other member's of the Chinook outdoor club in Lethbridge that when they did this hike during the summer in 2004 that they saw multiple bears in that spot at the same time (which, I believe is very unusual - I believe there were tons of berries there at that poin in 2004 and there was not a great berry crop elsewhere in most parts of Waterton/Glacier). Needless to say, we made lots of noise and did not waste too much time as we made our way back to the car.
We lingered at the top and generally took our time and our outing took 9 hours round trip, although speedy parties could certainly shave off a couple of hours. All in all a great day on one of Waterton's less traveled scrambles.
: III (III) MM
- May 21st, 2006.
Turn south on the Chief Mountain highway before entering the park gate. A couple of minutes past the lookout point there is a small gravelled pullout on the right side of the road and a trail that leads towards the basin below Sofa. Follow this trail right to the mountain (there is at one point an intersection, but stay on the main trail and do not turn right).
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