Poplar Peak (Rum Ridge)


Trip Details
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Trip Date: 
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Summit Elevation (m): 
Elevation Gain (m): 
Round Trip Time: 
Total Distance (km): 
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

There's some tricky down climbing from Evangeline Peak but nothing serious. Options to avoid difficulties to summit.

Trip Report

As we ascended Evangeline Peak, I noticed a nice looking horseshoe ridge / route running south from her summit and back down around to the west from a subsequent summit. Based on a antler-sign that we passed on our approach trail, we thought this was the summit of Poplar Ridge, but after descending and looking at maps we realized this summit is actually an unnamed peak rising above both Poplar and Poplar Peak. The traverse from Evangeline looked fairly innocent but Steven right away pointed out that we could by stymied by any of a number of cliff bands that were barely noticeable from a distance but were definitely in the way. As we started our traverse we began to run into these bands. Most were short and easy but a number of them were fairly steep and I found myself wishing I had my brain bucket along. I wouldn't rate any of these bands as more than 'moderate' scrambling and we were actually delighted to be doing more than just hiking after an easy ascent of Evangeline Peak.


[Starting the interesting traverse to Poplar Peak from Evangeline.]

[Looking back at Evangeline's summit block.]

[Looking west from the traverse, over Ya Ha Tinda Ranch and our ascent ridge on Evangeline Peak.]

[Vern down climbs a cliff band (photo by Steven Song).]

[The drop is a lot further than it looks from the summit of Evangeline!]

[Still dropping down and traversing. You can see we have a long way to go - and there's no guarantee that we won't run into a cliff that we can't downclimb.]

[Pretty steep cliff band, looking over the ridge that separates Poplar Peak and Evangeline Peak.]

[A few more drops and still some distance before we start our grunt up Poplar Peak.]

[Downclimbing a cliff band.]

[Vern finishes down climbing one of the larger cliff bands on our traverse. Photo by Steven Song.]

[Finally nearing the low point, looking ahead to Poplar Peak rising at right. ++]


It took a while to drop down to the lowest point between the two summits - at least a 200 meter vertical drop. We never knew if the next cliff band would turn us away, so it was nice to finally know that our route would probably go! We didn't know for sure the entire time, which made things a bit more exciting at least. The ascent of Poplar Peak from the low point was on loose and steep scree - I was feeling it at this point. When we finally topped out at the summit ridge I was surprised to see we'd done almost 1500 total metes of height gain between the two summits and the traverse! No wonder I was feeling it... The traverse along the west ridge to the twin summits of Poplar Peak was easy, with great views in every direction.


[Looking back at our descent route from Evangeline as we start up Poplar Peak.]

[Looking back at Evangeline - that upper cliff band looks nasty from here but it's only moderate scrambling.]

[The grunt up to Poplar Peak.]

[Looking back at the lovely Evangeline Peak and long traverse.]

[Looking ahead to the summit from the top-out on the ridge traverse. This is where we could continue to Eagle Mountain or go west to Poplar Peak.]

[Interesting terrain to the false summit.]

[A few more steps to the false summit.]

[Vern limps his way to the summit of Poplar Peak, the top-out false peak in the background.]

[Pano from the east summit of Poplar Peak looking north, east and south to Eagle Mountain on the far right. ++]

[Ben walks to the west summit of Poplar Peak. ++]

[Ben surveys the south, west and north views from the west summit of Poplar Peak. ++]

[Looking north at Evangeline Peak.]

[Warden Rock and the gap into BNP, along with deteriorating weather. Wapiti Mountain at right. Wapiti Mountain reminds me of Mount Wilson. I wonder if there's a shortcut route on it too? As it turns out, there is++]

[Looking south to the Ghost and front range peaks such as Black Rock, Fallen, Kink, Davidson, Devil's Head and Castle Rock.]

[Excellent views to the rarely traveled and even more rarely reported on area to the north of Ya Ha Tinda. Acadie is the low peak on the left in the foreground. I think the prominent horn shaped peak could be part of Condor Peak with Peters behind.]

[Looking over Oil Rig Peak (grassy plateau in center-foreground) towards the Forbidden Peak area.]


We were pretty happy with the traverse from Evangeline to Poplar Peak so far. We'd managed to find some hands-on scrambling on pretty good rock and had great views and weather all day. Now we just had to get back down to our approach trail to the west. As it turns out, our route-finding and scrambling adventure wasn't quite done yet!


Soon after leaving the west summit of Poplar Peak, we encountered a distinct "Dragon's Spine" along the west ridge. The spine was too sharp to scramble on top at first, so we descended snow terrain to the north (our right). Luckily for us, this turned out OK and soon we were confronted with a choice. Scramble up steep rock to the spine crest, or side hill loose rock to the left (south) side of the spine. Ben choose the side hill, Steven went up the spine. First I followed Ben but soon decided that side hilling sucked and joined Steven instead. The spine was close to difficult scrambling and reminded me of Mount Crandell's spine in Waterton National Park. There you can also avoid the scrambling on climber's left. This spine was a bit shorter and soon we joined up with Ben and continued down on easier slopes.


[Descending the west ridge of Poplar Peak.]

[We weren't sure this would go...]

[Interesting pinnacle on the ridge where you can either cross over to the left, or climb along the spine crest.]

[Looking up as Steven climbs on top of the spine.]


[Vern concentrates on not slipping on the slick, down sloping spine crest. Photo by Steven Song.]

[Almost done the spine - photo by Steven Song]

[Looking back at the spine from the only cairn on Poplar Peak's west ridge - well short of the summit but perhaps as far as most people feel comfortable going?]

The rest of the hike down was pleasant and fairly quick. We descended easy slopes before running into a network of horse / hiking trails which even had a few signs. We learned of some interesting local peak names ("Oil Rig" and "The Hat") and also some more trails we could use to access these peaks later. This is where we figured out that there was a Poplar Peak trail going higher than a Poplar Ridge trail in our area. We agreed that our peak was more likely a high point of Rum than Poplar and it sounded cooler too. After briefly getting lost in the myriad of tracks we managed to find our approach route and rejoined it right at the antler-sign for Poplar Ridge we'd passed that morning.


All-in-all I can highly recommend this hike / scramble. It's a pleasant (but length) 2 peak day or a nice day hike to just get Evangeline Peak. It took us 7.5 hours but we were moving pretty briskly. I think 9-10 hours would be a more leisure and perhaps 'normal' pack for the 1500+ meter of gain and 21km of distance.

[The amazing scenery of the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch and our easy descent ridge.]

[One more pano of the ranch... The weather is starting to deteriorate. ++]

[Did I say LAST pano? :) This is looking at Eagle Mtn to the right and our descent ridge.++]

[The ranch is full of watering holes and oasis among the tall grass prairie.]

[Getting onto the tall-grass ridges again]

[The distinct form of Maze peak on the left.]

[Almost at the approach trail again. "The Hat" is the treed ridge in front of "Oil Rig Peak" - both are treed / grassy peaks in front of the main Rockies to the west.]

[Back at the "Poplar Ridge" sign. It's confusing as heck, but my theory is that Poplar Peak is the high treed ridge in the center and Poplar Ridge is the low bump on the right. Poplar Peak is the rocky point on the left (behind this point).]

[Looking back at Evangeline (L) and Poplar Peak (R)]

[So-called "Maze" peak from the prairie flats.]

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