Note: This data is for the full Hawkins Horseshoe route, but the trip report will be split up into multiple posts.
I’ve been waiting to do this trip for a long time but between work, weather, family, and forest fires the time never seemed right. So as July 2022 neared its conclusion, and I had a free day which was forecast to be scorching hot but clear, I knew I had to get this one done. The Hawkins Horseshoe is a full day ridge walk, which starts with a scramble to the summit of Aahkoinimaiisták (Mount Blakiston), which is the highest peak in Waterton. From there the route continues around the “horseshoe” ridge which encloses the sapphire Lineham Lakes on the north, west, and south. Mount Hawkins is tagged along with way, and the ridge walk concludes at the top of Mount Lineham, Waterton’s 2nd highest peak. The beginning of the trip is on the Lineham Falls trail, and the end is on the Rowe Lakes trail. The trip is Waterton’s scrambling tour de force.
The route begins at Lineham trailhead. The large, clearly signed parking area is about 9 km up the Akamina Parkway from the Waterton townsite. At roughly 3.4 km the trail emerges from the trees and you get a clear view of Lineham Falls in the distance. The clearing is one of the major drainages/avalanche pathways coming down from Blakiston’s south face. The scramble starts here. I ascended along the right side of the drainage, seeing signs of a trail here and there. I knew that I wanted to direct myself to the right side of the huge black summit block far above. As I ascended, the block went out of sight, but I continued ascending along the easiest route visible, eventually bearing a little left and finding myself on decent scrambling terrain, intending to veer right eventually. I carried on like this until I could once again see the black rocks of the summit, and could also see that I was fairly far left of where the usual ascent route was.
I continued climbing and bore right somewhat, but soon after I realized that I could actually see a clear path up to the summit ridge just above me. I ended up completely missing the dramatic couloir described in Kane’s book which ascends through the black rocks. I was a little disappointed, since I’d been looking forward to climbing that. On the other hand, the way I’d gone was a very rapid ascent and I had spent almost no time toiling on scree. It was a pretty satisfying scramble. I walked up to the summit ridge, turned right and walked 200 metres to the summit. It took about 3 h 20m from the trailhead.
Aahkoinimaiisták features no substantial cairn or register. There was a small pile of rocks marking the summit and I didn’t feel the urge to build it up. The air was almost totally still, even at that altitude. Although it was a little hazy I still had great views in all directions. After taking some time to ponder the surrounding vista I set off to the west towards Mount Hawkins. The trip report will continue in Hawkins Horseshoe Part 2: Mount Hawkins.
Click on the pictures in the gallery below to access higher resolution images.