Kootenay National Park

Boom Lake

Interesting Facts: 

Glaciated mountains and limestone walls surround the perfectly clear water of Boom Lake, making this an ideal destination on an easy hike.

(from banff.com)

Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Sunday, June 30, 2013

After hiking the Stanley Glacier trail (and beyond) the day before, in 28 degree temperatures, Niko (my son) voted for an easier day on Sunday, June 30 2013. I had narrowed our destination into two choices, either Arnica Lake or Boom Lake. It didn't take long for Niko to choose.

Boom Lake.

This hike is riduculously easy and you are rewarded with great views at the lake. I have to say though, after the wildflowers, hanging glaciers and thundering waterfalls of the Stanley Glacier hike the day before, Boom Lake was kind of a let down. I also swore never to do this hike again after suffering a flu-ridden summit push for Mount Bell years ago! There are very few views off the approach, it was much muddier than Stanley Glacier and had MUCH fewer wild flowers - almost none! Strange, considering they're only a few km apart - the burn must make a huge difference on the Stanley Glacier flora by letting in much more delicious sunlight.

I'd recommend Boom on a hot sunny day when you want shade, and Stanley Glacier on a cooler, or slightly cloudy day like we had.


[Gizmo gets a free ride!]


[A gorgeous day - but not many flowers on this side of the valley!]


[The trail was pretty wet in places - the boardwalk sections are short but welcome.]


[Boom Lake with Boom Mountain rising above.]


[Looking towards the end of the lake (west). A young man was catching fish off these rocks.]


[No flowers so I started looking for other things to take photos of...]


[It's a MIRACLE! I found a FLOWER! :)]

 

Elevation Gain (m): 
185
Total Distance (km): 
10.20

Boom Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1908. Boom Lake lies below the mountain. It was named after the driftwood, derived from avalanche debris, which looked like a lumberman''s boom. Official name. First ascended in 1903 by Dominion Survey. (from peakfinder.com)

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, April 12, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,760

Since reading about Josee and Fabrice's trip up Boom Mountain in February it's been on my to-do list. I liked the idea of traveling into the Chickadee Valley since I'd never been in there before. Wietse had a rare Friday off on April 11 so we decided to do a nice easy trip up to Healy Pass - possibly bagging "Healy Pass Peak" while we there. I checked the avy ratings on Friday morning and was pleasantly surprised to see that the rating for Banff were actually lower than Kananaskis at "moderate / moderate / low". I did a classic Vern move and asked Wietse if he'd change his mind to Boom Mountain. After some consideration and quick weather / avy condition scanning on the cell phone while I drove, Wietse kindly agreed to a more aggressive goal.

 

 
[Google Earth image of our route. ++]

 

We got to the parking lot and noted a vehicle there ahead of us. But 08:30 we were headed up the well packed trail into Chickadee Valley. The approach trail to the valley is awesome! It's mostly uphill (makes for a fast exit) and the scenery is better than most valley approaches in the Rockies. I'll be coming back for the views / skiing opportunities soon.

 

We skied around 3.7 km up the trail before turning towards an obvious (and very large) avy path coming off the west end of Boom Mountain. On hindsight, this is the avy path that Josee and Fab came down, but one path east of where they went up.

 


[Wietse skis up the Chickadee Valley approach trail. Boom above him.]


[For a valley ski approach this is a very pleasant trail]


[Boom Mountain rises above us as we pass under an avy path. This is the closest the trail came to the mountain, we continued on about 1km or so from here.]


[Dramatic views]


[Looking south at a dramatic outlier of Mount Whymper.]


[A great view of Boom Mountain and our avy route up via the avalanche path closest to the col at left. ++]


[Looking back as we ski through open forest towards the avy ascent path]


[Looking up the path. We basically wandered through the debris after skiing up the lower 1/4 slope. Near the top we went left and then we used the trees for safety before gaining the upper rib at left.]

 

The snow was locked up solid as we skid up the avy path. Almost too solid. The 5cm of fresh snow on top of the solid slab made the climbing on ski skins difficult - we kept losing our edges as we tried to switchback the slope. Eventually after we reached old debris on the slope we put the skis on our packs and started hoofing it up very steep slopes on foot. At first I wondered if it was worth carrying the skis but then we hit some nice open slopes near tree line and continued above tree line before ditching the skis finally where scree started showing through the snow, high on the west end of the south slopes of Boom.

 

 
[Gorgeous views south from the lower avy slope, looking towards Mount Whymper. ++]


[Looking down avy debris as I climb. We gained height very quickly here.]

 
[Higher up the avy path split. We took the left (climbers) branch and eventually got out of the gully and into thin trees. The slab was so hard I could barely kick steps in it!]

 

We picked the perfect day to climb Boom - the full power of the Spring sunshine was blocked by clouds and the weather was quite cool. The snow was locked up very tight - I had to kick hard to get purchase even in the trees. After dropping the skis we bashed our way up fairly steep and part rubble / partly snowy slopes to the upper plateau via the west ridge.

 

 
[Above the avy slope, traversing climber's left for the ridge, this is looking west to Chickadee Peak. ++]


[Looking up the scrambly ridge.]


[Wietse comes up the shoulder to the west ridge behind me.]


[Looking northwest off the west ridge at Bident (R) and Quadra.]


[Trudging up the west ridge, looking down at our ascent avy gully far below us now (2nd from right).]

 
[Looking back from a small chimney on the west ridge at Chickadee and Chimney Peaks at center with the Chickadee Valley at left and the Boom Lake Valley at right. Bident and Quadra at right. ++]

 
[Finally on the huge summit plateau of Boom, looking NW with Chickadee, Chimney, Little, Fay, Quadra, Bident, Temple and Bell (L to R) visible. ++]

 

I have to say that I almost wish we brought the skis all the way to the summit! We ended up crossing about 1km of deep snow on the upper plateau - certainly not the scree I was expecting. On hindsight we should have used the wind blasted scree right on the ridge and just gone up the first (false) summit but I tried avoiding unnecessary height gain and did some side-slopping. Oh well.

 

As expected, the views from the plateau and the summit were incredible and included Castle, Temple, Bell, Quadra, Bident, Hungabee, Whymper, Stanley, Ball, Beatrice and Storm.

 

 
[The Chickadee Valley is nestled between some gorgeous peaks - most of them unnamed believe it or not.]

 
[We should have lugged our skis up here! The endless plod along the summit plateau, because the peak is always the furthest point from where you come up - guaranteed. :) Whymper on the left, Fay on the right and the peaks of the Valley of Ten Peaks in between in the distance. ++]


[Huge terrain up here.]

 
[Summit panorama from Storm, Ball, Stanley and Whymper on the left to the Lake Louise peaks at center and on the right. ++]


[Mount Whymper is a lovely peak and fairly straight forward and short scramble.]


[Storm Mountain at left.]


[Ball, Beatrice and Stanley (L to R) were a great 2 day scrambling trip back in 2010.]


[Looking towards Vermillion, Haffner, Numa and Isabelle further down hwy 93 in Kootenay National Park.]


[Mount Bell rises above Boom Lake to the north.]


[Mighty Mount Temple shows up to the NW.]

 
[A view north off the summit includes the entire Castle Mountain massif from Armor and Protection on the left to Castle Peak on the right. ++]

[Deltaform just 'peaks' out to the left of Quadra]


[One of Chimney Peaks outliers looms over Chickadee Valley. Chimney is to the right.]


[Looking over at the Valley of Ten Peaks rising in the clouds behind Chimney.]


[Looking east towards Copper, Pilot and Brett (L to R).]


[I was majorly bummed out that the summit register was frozen so solid I couldn't pry open the book! I don't think many people do this peak and I wanted to know how many had signed it...]

 

We didn't linger too long at the summit - the wind was strong and very cool for mid-April. Also, we didn't want to wait too long for the sun to destabilize the avy slopes we still had to ski down. The descent was quick and fun. We skied down the upper slopes which were still so frozen that the few cm's of snow on top slid off as we skied down! We carried our skis down through the avy slopes that had slid and had a great time skiing down the lower slopes that were clear of debris. The ski back down to the car was very fast and fun! I'll be back to ski this valley again - it's fun and it's full of great skiing.

 


[Wietse heads down from the summit]


[Looking down our ascent tracks to the west shoulder and into Chickadee Valley far below.]


[Wietse plunge-steps the snow slope above me.]

 
[Gorgeous views down the west shoulder including our avy path just left of center.]


[Wietse skis the upper avy slope]


[Skiing the lower avy slope]


[Signs of spring in the valley]


[The valley is a beautiful and serene place to spend a warm afternoon on skis.]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,056
Elevation Gain (m): 
1200
Round Trip Time: 
7.00
Total Distance (km): 
14.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Winter ascent includes serious avalanche risks. Learn how to manage these risks and perform avalanche burial rescues before attempting this trip.

Chickadee Peak (Chimney E1)

Interesting Facts: 

Chickadee Peak is an unofficial name for an outlier of Chimney Peak, it's official neighbor to the west. Chimney Peak isn't an easy climb but Chickadee is a fantastic back country ski that can easily be done in a day from hwy 93. It's a much better ski objective than it's neighbor, Boom Mountain.

Trip Category: 
OT - Off-Trail Skiing
Technical Difficulty Level: 
4
Endurance Level: 
Med
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chickadee Peak has been on my radar ever since seeing Raf's trip report on it. Back when Wietse and I did Boom Mountain, I remember looking at all the skiable terrain further up the Chickadee Valley and wondering if there were any other peaks we could ski in the area. Well, it turns out that there is! As Wietse, Ferenc and I drove to the parking area, Wietse started asking what we'd do if there wasn't any snow on the approach! We weren't laughing so hard when we finally parked. There wasn't a lot of white stuff around anymore... ;)

 

After ruining a "pure ski ascent" already from the parking lot (i.e. we carried our skis about 100m before finding enough snow to actually ski), we happily donned our skis and started up the lovely Chickadee Valley. The weather in Calgary was supposed to be rather dreary and cold, but here on the divide things were very different. The birds were chirping, the stream was bubbling and the snow was melting in a very strong spring sun as we worked our way up the lower - marginal - ski track.

 


[Wietse skis along the cheerful Vermillion River.]


[Beautiful spring weather in the Chickadee Valley]

 

Once we got a few kilometers up the stream, ski conditions improved. We worked our way along a pretty open stream until we finally passed the turn off for Boom Mountain and began the approach to the lower access slopes south of Chickadee Peak. Here we had two options. The first, obvious, choice was to head straight north up a steep avy slope to gain the hanging valley SE of the peak. The second, was to follow the up track for the Chick-a-boom traverse before traversing back to the east along steep forested slopes to gain access to the hanging valley. I wasn't sure the traverse would work, so I headed straight up the short, steep avy slope instead.

 


[The river was very open with only a few large snow bridges still strong enough to support our weight]


[I love the views in this valley!]


[Looking up valley, we will go up just climber's left of the rock buttress you can see on the right of the photo at around center height.]


[Looking back at our ascent skin track and Boom Mountain on the left.]


[We finally start gaining some serious height just before the avy slope.]

 

As I worked my way up, I happened to glance upwards and spotted a fairly large black bear gazing back at me from near the lip of the slope! Hmmm. That's a first! I've never ran into a bear on skis before... The bear didn't pay me much attention and continued down valley while I boot packed over his tracks to gain the top of the slope, rather than continue sliding around on my skis on the hard snow which was thankfully holding up very well despite the warm sunshine. The hanging valley is a gorgeous location. I enjoyed skiing up the terrain and was already smiling, thinking of the fantastic ski run back down it. There was one issue though. The sun was much hotter and more intense than we were expecting this day, and we were surrounded but avalanche terrain in this bowl. It wasn't quite a terrain trap, but it was close.

 


[Looking up the avy slope that we used to gain the hanging valley. On descent we traversed the obvious bench that trends out of sight to the left. I saw the bear at the top of this slope.]


[This photo is taken from the same place as the previous one, but looking up the valley instead. This is where we came out after traversing the slope instead of going straight down the avy path. This is where you go for the Chick-a-Boom traverse. Left and then climber's right up the valley ahead.]


[Very fresh bear tracks. I know, because I saw the bear make them! ;)]


[The beautiful hanging valley that gives access to the peak (out of sight). You can see it's almost a terrain trap and there have been recent slides.]

 

The snow was classic spring conditions with dust on crust and was holding up very well, so we kept going with a keen eye on conditions. One sign of instability and I was going to be turning around very quickly. As I worked my way into the back of the hanging valley, I could see avalanche debris from a recent slide and some very steep terrain leading up to the col at the back of the valley. This terrain made me even more nervous but again, the snow was holding up well so we continued. Thanks to the dust on crust, it was hard to get our ski edges / skins to grip the steep roll and eventually Ferenc and Wietse gave up and boot packed it. I tried out my ski crampons for the first time (!!) and they worked fantastic. I remember TJ using them on North Twin where I felt very insecure on skins and now I know why he was so confident on those steep, hard, slopes. I won't be leaving home without these in the spring again...

 


[Looking back down the hanging valley at Mount Whymper]


[Big views already. I'm sure the couloir in the bg has been skied.]


[Ferenc skis up behind me - looking pretty darn small in this terrain!]


[Getting higher - this is going to be a BLAST skiing down]


[Starting to get nervous about the steep avy terrain ahead. We have to go straight up to that high col and beyond. The summit is still out of view.]

 

After negotiating the steepest part of the roll, we still had a few hundred meters of height to gain and the summit was still not in sight either. Knowing we had a sublime ski down ahead of us helped with the energy levels as Ferenc and I broke trail through the col, sweating furiously in out t-shirts! No wind and a warm sun greeted us on the summit of Chickadee, along with excellent views in every direction. We spent around 30 minutes taking photos and enjoying the scenery before Wietse joined us. Clouds were thickening around us as we started our descent.

 


[Ferenc follows me up the first part of the steep roll.]


[Lots of avalanche terrain in this bowl!]


[Incredible scenery as Ferenc and Wietse boot pack the steep roll under the col at the head of the valley. I managed to use ski crampons here and went right up the steep dust on crust. This is typical avalanche terrain and should not be under estimated. There are rocks showing, which indicate a shallow break-away zone.]

 
[Ferenc finishes the boot pack - the scenery around Chickadee is amazing. ++]


[Wietse looks tiny as he finishes the traverse]

 
[Looking back as we near the col. ++]


[Ferenc approaches the col with Storm, Ball and Whymper behind him.]


[Chimney Peak looms over the col that is used for the Chick-a-Boom traverse that gets skiers between the Chickadee and Boom Lake valleys.]


[Fay S3 is a nice looking peak to the NW]


[Quadra is high on my list of desired peaks]


[Panorama Ridge looms over Consolation Lakes.]


[I remember being sick as a dog when I scrambled Mount Bell way back in 2006.]

 
[A panorama including Bell, Castle, Boom and Storm (L to R). ++]


[Block and Noetic show up over Castle Mountain's ridge.]


[Douglas and St. Bride show up in the distance.]


[Storm Mountain is another great ski objective.]


[Mount Ball is a favorite scramble of mine]


[Storm Mountain is supposed to be an excellent ski trip. I scrambled it back in 2009.]

 
[A wonderful pano over Boom Lake includes from L to R, Bident, Bell, Castle, Boom, Storm and Whymper. ++]

 

The ski down was unbelievable! It was over way too quickly. The crust held up very well and we managed to ski down all the steep rolls and exposed terrain with no major falls. Probably some of the best back country terrain I've skied this year, except maybe the upper part of Androlumbia. At the lip of the steep avy slope that we used to gain the hanging valley, we took the other route down through steep trees and along the valley leading to the chick-a-boom traverse (which goes up a pretty exposed avy slope too!). This worked very well. From here it was a pleasant and fast ski back to the parking lot, especially considering how melted back the  lower trail was. I highly recommend this outing for competent ski parties. I would not do this ski without a solid assessment of avy conditions as you cross and ascend many slopes that slide regularly.

 


[Wietse skis above the col.]


[Excellent dust on crust skiing!]


[Spring skiing is the best - T-shirt and goggles.]


[Ferenc coasts down the upper valley.]


[Huge terrain - caution is needed here.]


[Finishing up the best part of the ski down.]


[Getting through the trees from the bottom of the hanging valley was interesting in spots.]


[Looking up at another possible ski slope.]


[Incredible scenery in the back of Chickadee Valley.]

 
[Looking down Chickadee Valley, ready for a fast ride out. The avy slope we ascended on the L with Boom Mountain in the L background. ++]


[Looking back at our "bench exit" and the access to the Chick-a-Boom col (far R)]


[Our exit was not without some interesting bits. :)]


[The impressive ski couloir coming down from Mount Whymper looks like a blast!]


[That water tastes as good as it looks.]


[A serious lack of snow further down the Chickadee Valley. I think the ski season is almost done here.]

Summit Elevation (m): 
2,820
Elevation Gain (m): 
1200
Round Trip Time: 
7.00
Total Distance (km): 
21.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

The route to the summit traverses and climbs some major avalanche slopes. It is also exposed to some cornice hazard.

Chimper Peak

Interesting Facts: 

"Chimper Peak" is an unofficial summit situation between Mount Whymper to the SE and Chimney Peak to the north.

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Technical Difficulty Level: 
6
Endurance Level: 
Med
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, October 20, 2018

After the crappiest September on record, I knew we'd likely get some good weather in October. Sure enough! After a pretty bad start, October turned gorgeous and by the third week the forecast was all sunshine. Although the sun and warm temperatures were extremely welcome, they were also a bit on the late side for scrambling season. Despite assurances from Phil in Canmore that everything was melting out really quickly at valley bottom, I had my suspicions regarding anything above 2000m being snow-free. After a series of emails and texts, Wietse and I were the last two standing and started making plans for Saturday. We settled on Chimper Peak for the simple reason that Nugara makes specific mention that snow is welcome on this peak. We figured we'd win either way. If it was dry than we'd enjoy one last dry scramble for the season and if there was snow apparently that would assist our efforts. It turns out that we got a little of both.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2018/10/20/chimper-peak/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

 

Summit Elevation (m): 
2,880
Elevation Gain (m): 
1500
Round Trip Time: 
8.00
Total Distance (km): 
15.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

With snow anywhere on route there is avy hazards. There is also a minor cliffband to overcome, but nothing too dramatic.

Floe Lake / Numa Pass

Interesting Facts: 

Floe Lake is a small lake set beneath a rock wall escarpment in Kootenay National Park. Right around it's shores there is an alpine larch forest. There is back country campground at the Lake.

(from trailpeak.com)

Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Friday, July 5, 2013

As part of our ascent of Numa Mountain, we chose a circular route which took us down from Numa Pass, past Floe Lake and back out to the trailhead. This trip report is for the Floe Lake / Numa Pass hike in case you're not a peakbagger but a hiker! :)

The trail is easy enough to find - simply follow hwy 93 to (or from) Radium and look for the Floe Lake trailhead sign. The trail starts off quite easy through open (burnt) forest. It parallels the highway for a bit before crossing Floe Creek and switchbacking up a steep slope until you're high on the north side of the creek. The next 4 or 5 kilometers are on the side of Numa Mountain with excellent views of the surrounding mountains / creek and TONS of wild flowers.

As the valley narrows before a steep headwall to the lake the trail gets a bit overgrown. It's still obvious where to go, but the bushes, shrubs and growth starts to choke out the trail a bit. As you gain the steep headwall you may encounter another issue - avalanche debris. When we hiked this trail in July of 2013 it was choked with fresh debris from winter avalanches. I'm sure it'll be cleared soon enough, but this section is tough enough without going over, around and under dense masses of broken trees and debris! With an over night back pack this section will not be fun until it's cleared!

The lake is definately worth the work (almost 700 meters of height gain!). Great camp sites and a beautiful lake with an imposing peak (Floe Peak) towering above makes for a very nice experience. Above the lake is a larch forest which lights up every September. Hiking to Numa Pass involves an extra 3km distance and 300 meters height gain but this is where the work really starts to pay off in 'view dividends'. A huge larch forest, towering Foster and Floe Peaks and views all around make this a must-do if you're in the area.

The way back to the car will be long and tiring but the memories will last a long time. A highly recommended hike for either early summer (flowers) or fall (larches).


[Right from the parking lot the forest is open.]


[Daisy]


[The bridge crossing Floe Creek before the trail switchbacks high above the creek.]


[Wild White Geranium]


[Columbine]


[Ragwort]


[Heal-All]


[The trail provides wonderful views thanks to the open, burnt out forest. This is also why there's so many flowers. The Boom Lake trail, by comparison, is the same aspect but has almost no wildflowers due to the thick tree cover there.]


[Looking up a steep avalanche chute.]


[The trail traverses some steep terrain.]


[Leafy Aster]


[Foster Peak comes into view.]


[The steep headwall trail is slightly washed out in short sections.]


[Many waterfalls enroute.]


[The trail starts gettign steeper.]


[This is the avy debris on the steep headwall before Floe Lake. It's a tough section to hike through.]


[Honeysuckle]


[The lake is worth the battle!! Click for full size. Floe Peak towering in the background.]


[The warden's cabin by Floe Lake]


[The Numa Pass trail, above Floe Lake]


[Alpine Spring Beauty]


[The larch forest]


[High above Floe Lake now, larches all over the place up here!]


[Western Anemone]


[Very close to Numa Pass]


[This is what makes the pass a worthwhile hike! Looking back at Floe Lake and Peak. Click for full size.]


[The pass area]


[Telephoto of Floe Lake]


[A pano from the false summit of Numa Mountain, high above Floe Lake and Numa Pass showing Floe and Foster Peaks. Click for full size.]


[On descent - you can see how choked up the creek is beneath the headwall due to avalanche debris and dead timber.]


[Buttercup]


[Alpine Willowherb]


[The shrubs and bushes almost obliterate the trail in places! Find the hikers...]


[Further down the terrain opens up again.]


[Larkspur]


[Saskatoon]


[The Indian Paintbrushes are mostly pink on this trail - 'normally' these are red.]


[Western Canada Violet]


[Heal-All]


[Carpets of Twinflower]


[Pink Wintergreen]


[Yellow Mountain Aven]


[Wild Rose]


[This time it's an orange Indian Paintbrush!]


[Ragwort]


[Wild Daisy]

Elevation Gain (m): 
1000
Round Trip Time: 
12.00
Total Distance (km): 
25.00

Haffner, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Lt. Henry Haffner was said to have given "splendid service" with the 8th Field Company of the Canadian Engineers until he was killed by a sniper in 1916. (from Peakfinder.com

Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ever since skiing up Vermillion with Scott a few years ago, I wanted to go back for Mount Haffner. The Vermillion burn area makes for some great tree skiing in the right conditions and the no-nonsense approach from hwy 93 makes both of these peaks repeatable - something which I rarely admit to!

 

We started out making other plans for Saturday, January 5 2013 but as reports came in regards snow conditions (horrible bottomless sugar down low and hard slabs up high) we changed our aggressive goals and settled on Haffner instead. Originally it was Kevin Barton, Eric Coulthard and I but by the time we met in the Numa Falls parking lot we were joined by Kev Papke, Steven Song and Grant.

 

Steven and Grant would be on snowshoes (probably not a terrible idea given the snow conditions) and the rest of us on skis. The parking lot was gray and cold under a low blanket of clouds. We were psyched because we knew there was an inversion and we would be breaking through the clouds within an hour.

 

Even though we knew there was a risk of getting too high on Vermillion, we choose to follow the great skin track right across hwy 93 from the parking lot rather than the snowshoe route that Bob Spirko used. I figured the skin track up Vermillion would probably have a branch in it to the pass between Haffner and Vermillion once we got higher. I was wrong but our choice was still the right one in the end...

 

The first hour of of the ascent was under the gray sky and a bit chilly. The skin track was bloody steep though - almost like it was made for snowshoers and not skiers! My G3 skins just barely gripped the track and I had my heel lifters on the highest setting almost all the way up from the parking lot! Eventually the forest started getting a bit lighter and the air temps went up. We started shedding layers.

 


[Steven ascends the first headwall before the old road.]


[We start breaking through the clouds]

 

As we worked our way higher I was feeling really good despite my awful cold. My cardio seemed fine and Steven, Grant and I chatted our way up the slope. Barton was right behind us and Eric and Kev Papke were a bit further behind.

 

Eventually it started to become obvious that we were experiencing an awesome inversion and our views would be spectacular. It was also obvious that we were too high on Vermillion and would need to lose height to the pass. I started to talk about skinning my own track to climber's right but kept going up in hopes that someone else made that track already. They didn't. Finally I'd had enough. I waited for Barton to catch up and we chatted options.

 

It was decided that Steven and Grant would follow the track up Vermillion and break a trail to the summit before following the rest of us up Haffner. Barton, Eric and I would break trail up Haffner (there were no tracks on it anywhere) and we would wait for Kev Papke so he could join us. I'd already done Vermillion and so had Papke. I encouraged Barton and Eric to go for Vermillion since they were so close already but they didn't want me to be solo on Haffner and chose to go with me first. If there was time they would bag Vermillion on the descent - we knew the slopes we ascended were better for downhill than the slopes right under Haffner.

 


[Grant comes up with the layer of cloud under us now.]


[Yep - that's Haffner in the distance! Crap! Oh well. We wanted exercise anyway...]

 

As Steven and Grant went up Vermillion, we waited for Kev Papke to catch up. We shouted and asked Eric where Kev was but he'd lost him a while back. We weren't worried because our route was obvious but now we wondered how long we had to wait. We decided to start breaking trail up Haffner and left huge arrows pointing our new route and even built a snow wall across the skin track in case Kev wasn't paying attention to make our intentions really obvious. We took the skins off and descended about 150 vertical meters to the Vermillion / Haffner pass before making a new skin track up Haffner. There was very little evidence of recent parties anywhere near the pass or Haffner which surprised me a little. Good thing we didn't follow the other track or we'd have been breaking a lot of trail!

 

The views across the valley and all around us were mind blowing and the weather was perfect. The Goodsirs were awe-inspiring in the distance, as were many, many other peaks rising above the thick layer of cloud. Eric was in his t-shirt coming up Haffner - beautiful weather for January 5th.

 


[The Goodsirs are awesome peaks.]


[Looking up Haffner from just above the pass.]

 
[Kev breaks trail up Haffner under a warm sun, no wind and stunning views. ++]

 
[Looking back at Vermillion and the Rockwall. ++]


[Kev breaks trail - we dropped our skis just above the rock outcrop to his right.]


[Eric follows us up - we dropped our skis right where I'm standing.]

 

Eventually the snow pack became too thin for skiing and we dropped the skis and continued on foot. This short uphill section along the ridge was awesome! The views were great and the terrain pretty tame as we topped out and enjoyed the views in all directions. The only concern was Kev Papke who was nowhere to be seen. :( We could see Steven and Grant coming down Vermillion but no Papke anywhere. I knew he wasn't going to make it which sucked since he needed this summit for his goal of 50 peaks... I figured he must have gotten sick or something.

 

 
[We've dropped the skis and are getting much higher. Eric is in his t-shirt! ++]


[Great views towards Deltaform and Hungabee.]


[The mighty Mount Assiniboine!]


[Looking across hwy 93]


[Vern on the summit of Mount Haffner - Vermillion Peak behind.]

 
[Summit panorama, looking at Mounts Stanley and Ball. ++]

 
[Amazing panorama of the thick layer of cloud over Hwy 93 along the Rockwall. ++]

 

The trip back went without a hitch. Originally Eric and Kev were seriously considering an ascent up Vermillion, following Steven and Grant's tracks but we were running out of daylight and they would be descending in the dark so they made the call to join me on descent. We passed Steven and Grant on their way up Haffner - they would be getting two peaks this day! Steven indicated a tricky traverse to the true summit of Vermillion - I believed him - it's not a simple winter objective with a narrow summit cornice and some real exposure in sections.

 

We still didn't have any sign of Papke so we knew we had to ski back to our original ascent line in case he was stuck somewhere. He wasn't. We descended fast and relatively unharmed through the burn (my jacket was black by the time we got down!). A few hilarious moments arose when Kev Barton decided to try running through a tree instead of around it but the skiing was much better than we expected.

 


[Great views as we start approaching tree line again.]


[Kev descends the burn.]


[The trees do thicken a lot towards the lower part of the burn - you have to watch out or you get stranded behind giant dead fall! No issue for the "Superman Barton"...]


[See what I mean? Superman. :)]

 

We got to the parking lot - back in the cold and gray - to see a shivering Kev Papke. He had decided that we were going up the wrong peak and he turned back - unfortunate but it was his decision. He was cold but otherwise unscathed. A highly recommended ski ascent in good snow conditions. One of the few peaks I'd consider repeating just for the skiing!

Summit Elevation (m): 
2,514
Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,250
Elevation Gain (m): 
1100
Round Trip Time: 
7.00
Total Distance (km): 
10.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Winter ascent includes serious avalanche risks. Learn how to manage these risks and perform avalanche burial rescues before attempting this trip.

Numa Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1916. Numa is said to be the Cree Indian word for both "thunder" and "lightning." Official name. Other names Roaring Mountain. (from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, July 5, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,720

Friday July 05 2013 was a perfect day to escape Calgary (Stampede parade day...) so a group us did what we always try to do when we 'escape' - namely bag a peak! Steven, Wietse, Dave and I would join Kevin, Kelly and Scott along hwy 93 in Kootenay National Park and ascend something there. On the drive up we debated about the original destination - Mount Wardle. We weren't too enthused about a possible 1000 vertical meter bushwhack and subsequently made a decision to tackle the much more pleasant Numa Mountain instead!

 

After collecting Kev and Scott from the Wardle parking area, we joined Kelly at the Floe Lake trail head and started up the excellent backpacking trail to Floe Lake and the Rockwall hike. This trail is very pleasant (for the first 7-8km anyway...) and we chatted our way along the 6km approach to the avalanche slope leading up to Numa's summit block. I stayed behind the group and was distracted constantly by the hundreds of wild flowers everywhere - honestly this is the best trail I've been on for flower photography in a long time.

 


[Flowers along the trail - lots of them!!]


[Asters]


[The approach trail follows the backpacking trail to Floe Lake and Numa Pass. It's an excellent trail for about 8km - good enough for Numa Mountain travelers!]

 

After approximately 6km (just over) we found ourselves looking up an avalanche slope with a nice angle for ascent. We knew this must be the right slope and started up.

 


[Yellow dotted saxifrage on the avalanche slope we ascended.]


[Steven ascends the slope above me. The slope was fairly stable and easy to ascend - I would recommend going into the middle of it where there's a faint track to follow.]


[Stunning scenery, looking back down the slope.]


[The Indian Paintbrush were all bright pink on Numa Mountain instead of the more 'normal' red color.]


[Taking a break]


[The scenery on Numa Mountain is very nice, thanks in part to a forest fire about 10 years ago in the area.]

 

Once the terrain on the avy slope opened up a bit we started a slow trend to climber's left. Scott and Kelly didn't realize that the bump on climber's right wasn't part of the main mountain and ended up gaining some extra meters. The burnt forest is pretty open and easy to navigate - as you come around on a side hill, you should start to see Numa Mountain's gentle summit bump coming into view.

 

We made the summit under perfect conditions - barely any wind and a warm sun. We spent almost an hour at the top enjoying the stupendous views and naming peaks in every direction. This mountain should be done more often considering how technically easy it is and how amazing the surrounding terrain is! Scott and Kevin decided to return via our ascent route due to time constraints, while the rest of us chose a more scenic and adventurous return via Numa Pass and Floe Lake. And a much longer return...

 


[Another look down the avy slope from higher up.]


[Above tree line and now looking up at Numa's summit.]


[Chickweed, high up on Numa]


[The guys come up the slope behind me. Numa Creek is far below now - almost a vertical mile!]


[Summit panorama looking east, south and west. The small bump at lower center is the unnecessary summit that you'll ascend if you're not paying attention... :) ++]


[Panorama looking west and north to the Lake Louise group of peaks. ++]


[From left to right - Stanley, Beatrice, Ball and Isabelle. ++]


[Looking north along the Rockwall Trail. Wolverine Pass in the far distance with South Goodsir just making the photo on the right.]


[Hungabee, Deltaform, Ringrose, Temple, Fay, Quadra and Bident are just some of the Lake Louise peaks visible to the north.]


[South Goodsir peeks over the Rockwall - Vaux just visible as well.]


[Mount Ball]


[Stanley Peak]


[The Rockwall route goes right up this gorgeous valley. Hewitt Peak to the left.]


[Isabelle on the left]


[Vern enjoying the views from the summit of Numa Mountain]


[Group shot! (Except Kelly - but he's almost in it!!)]

 

Scott has been on the Rockwall trail before, and indicated that he thought there was a simple scree slope down from the false summit all the way to Numa Pass. Since this sounded so easy and since none of us had ever been to Floe Lake before, we decided it was worth the extra 4-5km to see a new section of the trail. We also assumed that the Floe Lake trail would continue to be as excellent as it had been on our approach.

 

As it usually happens in the mountains - a few too many assumptions are never a great thing... :) While Scott was correct that there was a relatively easy descent from Numa Mountain to Numa Pass, he forgot a small detail. That would be the 100 vertical meters you have to regain to reach the pass after descending the fall summit! Oh well. Not too bad - but you've been warned now.

 


[Sublime views from the false summit of Numa Mountain. Floe Lake with Floe Peak looming above it and Foster Peak on the right, high above Numa Pass. The Floe Lake approach trail runs alongside the creek just visible far below on the left. ++]


[Looking up at Numa's false summit that we just descended. We're now re-ascending to a ridge that runs above Numa Pass.]


[Looking north from near Numa Pass at an unnamed peak and a small tarn.]


[Flowers near the pass.]


[Looking back up the trail to Numa Pass. We descended from the right side of this photo from the false summit of Numa Mountain.]


[The remarkable views of Floe Lake with the imposing Floe Peak towering above made the diversion worth it. ++]


[Globe flower]


[Taking in the views from above Floe Lake.]


[Western Spring Beauty]


[Evergreen Violets]


[Floe Lake is a wonderful place to sit for a while. Or camp! ++]

 

After an extremely enjoyable and scenic descent to Floe Lake it was time to tackle the 10.7km back along the trail to the parking lot. We were all feeling tired and sore at this point but we had an excellent trail to follow so it was 'robot' mode right? Wrong.

 

The trail condition down the headwall below Floe Lake was in dismal shape. Avalanches had washed burnt and live timber across the steeply switch-backed trail and really made a mess out of it! We had to crawl through debris before cutting down the switchbacks and cutting through it again and again. This was tiring in the heat of the afternoon - but we eventually made it through. I'm sure eventually someone will make it into the area with a chainsaw but for now you should be aware of this section of trail. It's not long but with a big overnight pack it'll suck.

 

The rest of the way out was easy but long after a very full day. I highly recommend Numa Mountain as an easy / moderate outing with an excellent optional depproach that serves up even more views than you've already experienced on the main mountain.

 


[Views on descent from Floe Lake]


[Negotiating the avalanche debris on the steep headwall.]


[Steven does some avy debris gymnastics!]


[Floe Creek is choked with the avy debris. Note how the fires finally died out way up the valley?]


[Buttercup]


[Alpine Willowherb]


[Note Wietse and Dave in the overgrowth! The trail feels a bit overgrown in spots but it's always fairly easy to follow.]


[Larkspur]


[Back on the well-maintained trail.]


[Pink Indian Paintbrush - these were lovely and all over the place!]


[Western Canada Violet]


[Just because you can SEE the highway doesn't make it close... Still kilometers to hike to the parking lot!]


[Mats of Twinflower carpet the start of the Floe Lake trail.]


[Pink Wintergreen]


[Yellow Mountain Aven]


[Wild Rose]


[Ragwart]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,924
Elevation Gain (m): 
1700
Round Trip Time: 
10.50
Total Distance (km): 
25.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Mostly hiking with some route finding and easy scrambling up an avalanche gully.

Ochre Spring Peak

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Interesting Facts: 

Named by So Nakagawa in 2011 after the nearby Ochre Spring / Paint Pots natural historical area in Kootenay National Park.

Technical Difficulty Level: 
5
Endurance Level: 
Med
YDS Class: 
Hiking

Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, June 2, 2018

Saturday, June 2 2018 was looking like a mixed bag of Spring weather. Phil and I decided to play it easy and get out for an "exercise day" - hopefully one with some great views. Phil had put Ochre Spring Peak on our list a while ago already, but I'd never paid it much attention until the Matt's (Hobbs and Clay) recently posted trip reports on it, demonstrating some pretty sweet views.. Phil agreed that this was likely the best time of year to do it and since it has a very short approach and easy slopes, having snow in the ascent gully would be perfect.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2018/06/02/ochre-spring-peak/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (m): 
2,777
Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,111
Elevation Gain (m): 
1350
Round Trip Time: 
6.00
Total Distance (km): 
13.50
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 1 : you fall, you're stupid
Difficulty Notes: 

An off-trail hike, barely a scramble at all. Some steep scree / dinner plate near the summit ridge.

Stanley Glacier (Plus)

Interesting Facts: 

Another well-used trail in the Rocky Mountains - an early morning start is best. This hike encompasses a myriad of nature's work: remnants of a forest fire, a hanging valley, high peaks (Stanley Peak, Storm Mtn., Mt. Whymper and Boom Mtn.) and the receding Stanley Glacier.

(from banff.com)

Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Saturday, June 29, 2013

On Saturday, June 29 2013 I hiked the Stanley Glacier trail in Kootenay National Park with my family. It was a rather warm day when we started from the parking lot - we were joined by Anton Baser and his family which made for a very enjoyable day.

The trail is very well maintained and slowly switchbacks up through the burn area beneath Storm / Stanley mountains. Because of the burn, there are TONS of berries in this section - I've never seen so many blueberry bushes! This must be heaven for Grizzlies in the fall. Along with blueberries there were bunchberries, hawthorns and many other types of flowers alongside the trail. I was kept quite busy photographing them and was glad for a slightly cloudy sky. (Flower shots work much better in gray conditions than bright and sunny.)


[Crossing the stream at the trail head]


[The hiking trail has views almost immediately - this is looking back at highway 93 towards Boom Mountain.]


[This is a hot trail on a sunny, summer day! The Stanley cliff face looms over Hanneke.]

 
[Taking a break after another stream crossing]


[Alpine Heather]


[There was so many blueberry bushes it was crazy! Bears will be all over this area in the fall!]

As we worked into the valley leading to the Stanley Glacier, Anton pointed out some of the ice climbs in the area which were tumbling threads of waterfalls in early summer. He'd climbed one of the hardest of them (Nemesis) and had a good story about leaving the rope behind due to rapidly fading light at the end of their rapels! Ice climbs along the impressive wall include Acid Howel, Suffer Machine and French Reality and apparently when Nemesis was first climbed in 1974 it was the hardest ice climb on the planet. At WI 6, it's still among the tough ones! (Info from rockies-ice.com)


[Nemesis isn't ice today!]


[Telephoto of the interesting cliffs that produce so many world-class ice climbs. It looks like there might be a system of vertical caves or chutes behind the rock wall here.]


[Looking back at the approach with Mount Whymper rising behind - I did that one solo in 2009 and loved it.]

We stopped for lunch just before the official trail ended, at an open rocky area. At this point Anton and the family turned around and we continued on up the trail. I had heard from a climbing friend that the bivy area for the Stanley Glacier climbing route was sublime and I really wanted to reach it if possible to check it out for myself. We could see an obvious trail heading up to the back of the valley where another headwall capped with trees rose up. We could also see a line of about 10 people heading up the trail so we followed them.


[Looking ahead to the upper headwall]


[Despite the dire warning of the "trail ending", there is a great trail all the way up the valley thanks to curious hikers and also climbers who go in to climb the classic snow couloirs on Stanley's north face.]


[It's really worth going the extra kilometer or two - the views are awesome!]

The trail up above the final headwall is totally worth the extra effort IMHO. It's well used and while loose, not terribly so. We managed to gain the upper headwall and I could see why this area is known as a great bivy site! I could also see how the lower Stanley Glacier could be accessed from the upper bowl on climber's right. We enjoyed the views and had lunch before treking back to the car. I highly recommend the Stanley Glacier hike - it was fairly dry even in early season with great views and lots of on-trail company. If you want to be alone on this hike go early.


[Looking at the toe of the Stanley Glacier]


[Lots of waterfalls]


[Looking west along the wall that provides some world-class ice climbs in the winter.]


[Heading back down, a glance back at the glacier]


[Indian Paintbrush]


[Dwarf Dogwood]

Elevation Gain (m): 
600
Total Distance (km): 
10.00