Jake Smith Peak (Rainy Traverse)

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Interesting Facts: 

I had to email Andrew Nugara to find out where the heck the name "Jake Smith" came from since he doesn't answer this most important question in his guide book (that I could find anyway). The name comes from a tiny little lake tucked under the east aspect of the mountain on the Alberta side of the border. You have to zoom way in on Google maps to see the name and some sources confuse Jake Smith Lake with the Rainy Lakes just to the north.

Technical Difficulty Level: 
Endurance Level: 
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Trip Date: 
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

From the summit of Three Lakes Ridge we had a choice to make. Despite the gorgeous weather Phil and I were obviously enjoying, it was already past 14:00 hours and we were a long way from the parking lot. We could descend Three Lakes Ridge via west slopes before joining the track back up to Middle Kootenay Pass and decide from there whether or not Middle Kootenay Mountain was a "go", or we could take advantage of the ridge we were already on and continue towards Jake Smith and Red Argillite peaks. Why was it even a choice? We knew we didn't have time, or possibly the conditions (too snowy) to do Scarpe Mountain and it is best combined with JSP and RA rather than done on its own. In the end we obviously chose to continue with the ridge traverse we'd started, knowing that we'd have to come back some day for Scarpe. Thanks to my negative attitude that morning (!) we didn't have photos of Nugara's guidebook descriptions for RA or JSP from TLR. Oh well. It looked fairly straightforward, so off we went.


The south ridge of TLR was a bit tricky in spots but nothing a little detour left (east) couldn't overcome every once in a while and we continued to enjoy the warm and nearly windless conditions as we descended towards RA Peak. Of course, since we didn't have Nugara's guidebook with us, we didn't know where "RA" Peak was exactly! We decided it couldn't be the bump along the ridge proper as this was too easy. We settled on the slightly lower but further outlier to the west of what turned out to be Nugara's "RA" and dubbed both of these peaks "Red Argillite Peaks". We decided to tag them on return if we had the energy. Confused yet? So were we. cheeky The ridge undulated a bit and by the time we were ready to ascend Jake Smith, I was feeling pretty bagged. Remember - I biked, hiked and scrambled 1800 vertical meters the day before on Coulthard and McLaren. Yeah I know. Excuses, excuses. I suck.


[As is common with ridge traverses in the Castle Wilderness, they often look far easier than they are. Phil downclimbs some easy terrain on the south ridge of Three Lakes Ridge.]

[Phil has gotten pretty lucky with his Castle Wilderness adventures. We tend to have low winds when he joins! Gorgeous views south over Rainy Lakes towards JSP. The peaks that we dubbed, "Red Argillite" are left of Phil in the distance. ++]

[Looking back at the descent from Three Lakes Ridge.]

[A highpoint on the south ridge towards JSP with Rainy Lake at left.]

[A telephoto of the area's namesake peak, "Castle Mountain". Some day I'd love to climb it despite the fact that it's mid 5th class I think it's doable - as a roped climb NOT a scramble.]

[There's a reason this day adds up to 2200m height gain! The ridge undulates towards JSP.]

[The ethereal beauty of the smaller, south Rainy Lake is enhanced by the larches surrounding it.]

[Phil surveys the rest of our route. JSP, Scarpe and Red Argillite's east summit from L to R.]

[Looking back at Three Lakes Ridge from a low point on the traverse.]

[Mount Gladstone looks awesome from this angle!]

[From L to R, JSP, Scarpe, Red Argillite Peaks, Krowicki, Miles, Tombstone, Middle Kootenay, Haig and Three Lakes Ridge.]

[The peak we dubbed "Red Argillite West" is lower than Nugara's "RA" but looks fierce from this angle and is more isolated than RA making it more of a separate peak than just a bump along the ridge.]

[Mountain Goats.]

[Looking north (L), east (C) and south (R) from Three Lakes Ridge to Rainy Ridge to JSP. This area is quite beautiful with the brightly colored rock, undulating ridges and larch forests combined with little lakes and tarns in forested valleys. I, for one, am delighted with the addition of two new Provincial Parks in the Castle Wilderness, along with the protections these designations will provide. ++]

[The route up Jake Smith looks (and is) pretty darn easy. Scarpe, unfortunately, isn't quite as straightforward and the fresh snow won't help.]


From the "RA"/JSP col, the route was obvious - put one foot in front of the other to the summit. So that's what we did. I told Phil I was feeling rather tired and would be dropping my pack at the col and heading up with minimal gear and he agreed to do the same. This also meant there'd be no last minute decision to go for Scarpe Peak, but on hindsight that was a great thing as we were running out of daylight anyway at this point - we just didn't realize it yet. I ate a few granola bars to bump up my energy a bit and managed to follow Phil as he made the ascent look effortless ahead of me. Thankfully he also kicked steps in the small amount of fresh snow we had to deal with - providing further evidence that JSP is indeed the highest peak in this area despite what our maps indicated (they showed Scarpe as higher). The summit was a short walk to our left after gaining the ridge and soon we were enjoying views from our third summit of the day, all while glancing at our watches and performing calculations in our heads re: remaining distance vs. remaining daylight.


[Looking back at Phil from the lower slopes of JSP. Red Argillite, Three Lakes Ridge and Rainy Ridge in the background.]

[Phil with "RA" at left.]

[Great views along the SW face of Jake Smith Peak towards Scarpe Mountain.]

[The snow actually helped us avoid some loose scree to the summit ridge.]

[Phil walks to the summit with excellent views south over Mount Matkin, Coulotte, Scarpe and others. From here it's clear that Scarpe is lower than JSP. It also looks like an easy traverse, but apparently it's not. On hindsight I kind of wish we had the energy to go for it, but I'll admit that I didn't feel it at the time.]

[A pretty large summit panorama including (L to R), Krowicki, Red Argillite, Miles, Tombstone, Middle Kootenay, Haig, Gravenstafel, Syncline,Three Lakes, Southfork, Barnaby, Rainy Lakes, Whistler, Frankie, Larry, Gladstone, Castle, Windsor, Victoria, Lys Ridge, Loaf, Jutland, Matkin, La Coulotte, and many other peaks at distant right that I'm not familiar with. ++]

[Jutland Mountain has a distinct look.]

[Looking over La Coulotte towards Mount Matkin at mid center with the unique cliffs.]

[A slightly wider view over La Coulotte with Jutland and Matkin at mid photo and Loaf, Spionkop, Newman and part of Glendowan in the background.]

[Mount Glendowan looms to the SE.]

[I'm guessing this could be Commerce Peak to the SW with a repeater tower on the summit.]

[Unfamiliar, but fairly lofty, peaks to the south, likely many of them in Glacier National Park in the USA. ++]

[Views north over the south Rainy Lake over RA, Three Lakes Ridge and Rainy Ridge towards Southfork, Barnaby and Lys Ridge. It's clear that Jake Smith is one of the higher peaks in the area at over 8650 feet high.]

[Views east past Lys Ridge with it's communications hut on the summit and Drywood Mountain in the distance.]


After enjoying the views from Jake Smith, it was time to descend back to our packs and decide whether or not we'd be bothering with the two "Red Argillite" peaks. The descent went quick, we started down the east ridge from the summit before cutting back on snow covered slopes to our ascent track and descending to the RA col and our packs. On hindsight it's too bad we didn't have time (or energy in my case) to tackle Scarpe Mountain as it was so close. It's south slopes were also snow-free so I'm sort of regretting not giving it a shot now. Oh well. 20/20 vision when looking backwards.


[Phil descends the east ridge from the summit of JSP with Lys Ridge stretched out in front of him.]

[Phil cuts back along the north aspect of JSP to the RA col as the afternoon shadows grow long.]

Summit Elevation (m): 
Summit Elevation (ft): 
Elevation Gain (m): 
Round Trip Time: 
Total Distance (km): 
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: 

The main difficulty for JSP is a bit of routefinding and downclimbing along the south ridge of Three Lakes Ridge down to the col.