After looking at the snowy scene from Grotto's summit last week and chatting to Carl in Celine's car looking at peaks north of Black Rock we came up with this variation from the usual early season scrambles. None of us had been in the area before but a look at the Burnt Timber topo and Google suggested Maze peak might be a reasonable objective. Maze peak, unnamed on the topo, is a peak in the front ranges near the Ya Ha Tinda ranch on the eastern bank of the Red Deer river as the river swings briefly south after passing Ya Ha Tinda. We got the name Maze peak from Google and Bivouac - the name derives from the smaller Labyrinth mountain on the opposite bank of the Red Deer. Labyrinth is named on the topo.AMAZEingly it worked out pretty well for an exploratory trip!

Maze Peak (at right) from Forestry Trunk Road

After a 2 hour drive from Calgary we left the Ya Ha Tinda road and headed up a drainage just after 9:00 am. We thought to gain the western spur of a ridge of our objective .... but .. well we kind of went with the "bush whacking" flow and ended up on the eastern spur ....It all worked out well though and we wandered along a nice ridge looking at my "obvious ascent line" across another drainage.

Up the SW ridge towards Maze Peak

After a short steep descent into this drainage it cliffed out to get to "my obvious line" - the fun of exploratory trips! A slightly longer line to climbers left got us up the mountain though. The summit ridge had some scrambly bits that, especially on the down climb, maybe, pushed the trip's advertised SC5 rating estimate a bit. The scrambling was all avoidable climber's right of the ridge. Not much snow and we got to the summit just around noon I think. This coordinator was disturbed to read in the water bottle register that we had ascended "James peak" not "Maze peak" - Lost again! Actually James peak is another appropriate name which can be derived from James pass between the peak we were on and Evangeline mountain to the north. Who to believe Google or a water bottle register?

John, Sim, Chau, Carl and Janice on May's Maze Peak

Scrambly bits (avoidable) on the descent off Maze Peak

After an hour or so lunch on the pleasant summit trying to figure out these unfamiliar snow covered peaks to the west (Assiniboine was so much easier to pick out last week from the more familiar environs of the Bow valley and Grotto!). With the help of Carl's 1:250,000 we nailed Dormer, Barrier, Evangeline and Warden Rock but were less certain if the big mountain was Bonnet or Panther mountain. Sim had her peakbagger eye on an outlier on the north west ridge of Maze (a.k.a James) peak towards Ya Ha Tinda she nicknamed Ya Ha Tinda peak which we headed for after lunch to make it a two peak day.

Janice, John, Sim, Chau and Carl on

We descended by the western spur originally thought of for the ascent. There was a bit of bushwhacking at the end as there is quite a lot of blow down in the area. Back at the car around 4:00 pm we headed back to Calgary. We had come out via the Forestry trunk but we went back by Sundre. We stopped briefly in Sundre for refreshments but were back in Calgary around 6:15 pm. The Forestry Trunk is shorter in distance but, I think, maybe, Sundre is 5-10 minutes shorter but not much to choose. Going via Sundre you are less time on gravel.Exploratory trips are tricky things but I was fortunate Ramblers: Sim, Janice, Chau and Carl decided to join me, John, trying something a little bit different which could have been a total bust but worked out.If you do n't mind the 2 hour drive, some on gravel, the group felt it was a worthwhile trip so I will add to the trip database as an option for an early season front range easy scramble. As to the name .... if the Ramblers have a vote I think we vote for Maze peak because we had an aMAZEing day (well I did!).P.S. Thanks Carl for the photos ... sorry some glitch on my upload from my camera I lost all my photos from the trip which maybe had a nice couple of you and Chau on the "scrambly bit" and maybe a nice one of Janice reaching the summit with a snowy front range backdrop .... too bad.

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