Hailstone Butte
an active fire lookout in the livingstone range

the second of three Thanksgiving-in-the-Highwood summits

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After completing the Windy Peak Hills trip at five, we decided we had enough time to head on to Hailstone Butte,
and complete our loop with a second summit, rather than just walking back up the road to the car.
There are two normal routes up Hailstone butte - one is long, and heads up the west valley before slowly angling up the north slopes.
The most direct and popular ascends straight up from Teardrop Lake - also our parking lot for Windy Peak.

In order to traverse the mountain, and loop from Windy Peak, we took neither, but headed straight up the south slope.
The majority of the ascent was bushwhacking, but through sparse forest which blocked the wind, but not our progress.
This was definitely a brutally steep face though, and I'm not sure I'd want to come down it.

Near the top of the face we found one small cliffband to scramble through, with a mix of good rock and sliding mess.

Rocky terrain near the south end.

A look back to Windy Peak and Mount Livingstone.

Really cool fossil stuff in the rock.

Knowing we didn't have much time, we grabbed a snack on the south end, then added layers for the hike north.
It was rather cold by this point, and the wind was relentless, freezing off our left sides.
We headed along the broad top towards the south summit. We knew that it was lower, and dipped back down before the summit.
Hoping to save both time and left ears, we decided to traverse along the east face instead of going over.
The reprieve from wind was wonderful, and the going decent for a while.
As we continued along, we found ourselves in the main cliffband, and decided to angle up as we progressed.
When we topped out, we found ourselves on the south summit after all, though considered the alternate route worth it as the wind hit us again.

At this point, we made a discovery -
We had chosen to do this summit running on the assumption that we had about three hours of daylight left.
It turned out that I'd failed to recognise the lateness in the year, and the sun in fact set before seven - not at eightish.
We were treated to a sunset over Plateau Mountain to the west, and quickly headed towards the summit to our north.

Sunset at the south summit cairn.

Looking up the ridge in the dying light.

Pano of the peaks to west.

By the time we reached the summit, there was barely light in the sky, and we didn't stop to bother with any dark photos of the lookout.

We knew that most of the direct ascent involved simply following a gully, and were not worried about that.
First, though, we needed a way down throuh the cliffband before we had to break out the headlamps.
We looked around a little, and found a suitable weakness to downclimb, and headed down the steep slope towards our gully.
By the time we reached the gully, it was completely dark, and we were treated to a vast starry sky.
Suprisingly, for it was little more than half full, the moon gave us enough light to show our shadows and the surrounding terrain.
We made the very neat descent all the way without artificial lighting, and aside from the cold, enjoyed it as much as the rest of the day.

We finished the hike at eight, and drove back to the campsite for some well-deserved dinner.
After a cold but welcomed sleep, we packed up the next morning and headed to Plateau Mountain for summit #3.

Our tent site early the next morning.

A view up the road to Hailstone Butte in the morning.

Photos taken entirely by Axel, as my camera froze the first time I pulled it out. :(

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