Mt. Elliot (Elliot's Left Hand, Kittyhawk)

January 16, 2016

In the winter this mountain becomes alive to the ice climbing community.  The most common of the ice climbs is known as "Elliot's left hand", though canyons and creeks around this mountain also have some lesser known ice climbs; the two that will be discussed on this day's adventure are Kittyhawk and the aforementioned Elliot's Left Hand.

The parking area for both of these waterfalls is on a side road off of the Highway (Hwy11) labeled Range Road 180A.  This road will veer down towards Abraham Lake, though in the winter is not completely kept plowed.  The good news is the plows apparently keep the inlet of the road clear, allowing for a slightly larger pull over off of the highway.

Note: I noticed a sign on my approach from Cline River, however did not see one on my return towards Nordegg.

The good news to some, Kittyhawk is actually visible from the range road parking spot.  Even on a day like I experienced, with overcast, I was able to see on the far right of Mount Elliot's peak the impressive long and slender ice sheet.

With this waterfall having been accomplished by sight, I focused my efforts on getting further in as Elliot's Left Hand was not visible from where I was standing.  Although as this is by far the more popular of the two for ice climbers it was easy to spot the trail going in towards the mountain.

As I was arriving in mid-season for ice climbers it almost went without saying that within 12 hours of my arrival there had been people blazing the trail.  This was beneficial to me as after starting out from the road you are thrust headlong into some thick forest and Mount Elliot's peak all but disappears in the background.

After roughly 800 to 900 meters of a thick winter forest and steady inclined path, the trees start to open up revealing once again the daunting peak of Mount Elliot, and with it your first unobstructed view of Elliot's Left Hand.  With under a kilometer to the base of the waterfall to go I was rewarded with these two ice falls on either side of one very impressive mountain.