After a full day driving to and summiting Mount Harrison the Saturday previous, we slept in on Sunday before reluctantly rising and surveying the clouds that were now hanging over our little valley. Mount Folk hadn't looked very difficult the afternoon before, as we trudged slowly past it on our way up Mount Harrison, so we weren't too concerned about ascending it in the clouds or even rain if it came to that. Thunderstorms would be an issue, but we weren't expecting any of that sort of fun activity, so we ate a leisurely breakfast before setting off up the same route we'd just completed less than 10 hours previous. Good times. Dang peakbaggers... I have to admit that I wasn't totally "feeling it" this particular morning. We'd just humped our way up piles of scree to the Harrison / Folk col and the Folk views wouldn't be any better than Harrison's, especially if the clouds stuck around. The climbing was nonexistent on Folk, so the ascent wouldn't be that exciting either. Oh well. We drove a LONG bloody way to get here so I just told myself to enjoy the day and go grab another peak while I was at it.
[Steven does some bouldering on the way up past the familiar waterfall.]
[The cliffs around the waterfall have some very interesting patterns worn in them.]
[More interesting patterns in the rocks and boulders.]
[Looking back at our ascent gully with Smith Peak rising in the background right of center and Splendid Peak left of center.]
[Our decision to climb Harrison the previous evening seems brilliant now with low clouds shrouding the peak and presumably any views from it.]
[Folk looms in the distance under some pretty gray clouds.]
There were no surprises for ascending Folk. Steven, Ben and I went all the way to the Harrison / Folk col while Eric took a very nice shortcut just over the cliffs on the way up on climber's right and ended up far ahead of the rest of our party. We all chose slightly different routes on the final ascent slopes, I chose the west ridge to make things as interesting as possible with a nice drop down to the Thunder Creek Valley below. There were some nice views off of it but the ascent stayed mostly a hike. The summit views were better than expected as the weather held up nicely.
[Closer now, Eric is a tiny dot to the right as he took a very well-timed shortcut before the Harrison / Folk col. I climbed the left hand ridge while the others went straight up the face.]
[Decent views off the ridge - if you like clear cuts. ]
[Find the tiny figures on Folk's south ridge. ++]
[Harrison rises behind us with it's east and west couloirs clearly visible. You can see why the west (R) couloir isn't that easy to exit - it only goes half way up to the summit ridge when dry!]
[Looking back at the different routes to the final summit block. Eric came up from the left while the rest of us cut over too high on the right.]
[Some interesting views off the south ridge.]
[Grunting up yet another pile of Rockies scree. What the hell is wrong with me?!]
[The views were pretty good considering how cloudy it was when we awoke. From L to R, Harrison E2, Harrison, Mike and the Quinn Range. ++]
[Smith Peak is our next destination.]
[A wider view south down our approach road with Splendid Peak to the left of the road and Smith to the right of it.]
[We briefly considered a traverse to this outlier but scuttled that idea in favor of ascending Smith and bivying on that mountain instead. Good decision now that I know they're unnamed.]
[Looking down the Thunder Creek Valley towards a distant Flett Peak and Mount Dorman. ++]
[Harrison looks intimidating from this angle. Happy to be done it!]
The descent was pretty quick, with some great views of Mount Harrison which was pretty much socked in with thick cloud cover. Our decision to take advantage of the previous evening's weather window was looking pretty darn smart at this point. We've made it a habit out of doing this on subsequent 11,000ers such as Mount Joffre and even Mount Columbia. Get the summit while the going is good is a winning strategy but you need to be OK with some suffering since you're approaching and climbing on the same day.
[The terrain on the south face of Folk is interesting.]
[Easy descent with great views of Harrison.]
[L to R, Smith, Harrison E2 and Harrison.]
[You can't shortcut too much or you're on cliff bands on the left.]
[A beautiful afternoon as we descend into the bivy valley. Splendid Peak in the distance looking pretty attractive from here.]
[Fall is coming!]
We got back to camp with plenty of day light left and decided we might as well hump our gear part way up Smith to make the next day a bit easier and shorter, so down the mountain we went. For descent we followed the flagged trail on skier's right of the creek and avoided about half the avy debris that we had encountered the day before, on ascent. When we got back to the truck we even changed the flagging at the parking lot to lead to the creek route instead of the crappy avy path route. Both routes still deal with extensive avy debris that could be cleared easily in half a day by a determined party with a couple of chainsaws.
[Leaving the bivy.]
[A nice draw, just past our bivy spot on descent.]
[Dropping down towards the drainage - and hell. In the form of bushwhacking.]
[Traversing the top of the stream to the trail on skier's right.]
[Flagging marks the trail that we missed on ascent (we were climber's right - in the creek bed or on the wrong side of it).]
[The avy debris still affects the 'proper' trail.]
[We are on the opposite side of the creek and avy slope but the slide was so big it pushed debris all the way up the hill on the other side! There is some flagging in the debris suggesting the original trail went through here.]
[This is what you have to look forward to. (I've heard that this has since been cleaned up somewhat - as of 2017 anyway.)]
[The advantage of this route is reaching the creek and following ribbons and bits of trail down it to the parking area.]
[This is the easy part of the lower route in the creekbed.]
Would I recommend Folk? In a nutshell, yes. If you're in the area anyway I don't see why you wouldn't add another 10,000+ foot peak to your summit list. I would suggest, however, that instead of doing it as we did - on a separate day - I would simply do it after climbing Mount Harrison. It shouldn't add more than an hour or two to your day and for the unique landscape and views of Harrions, I say it's totally worth the minimal effort it demands.