There are two reasons why Kane rated Mount Engadine as a difficult scramble. One is the nature of the ridge itself. Long sections of 'no-fall' zones coupled with loose rock and tricky down climbs make this a much more difficult climb than even other difficult scrambles such as Lady McDonald. The other reason Engadine earns its difficult rating is the nasty bushwhack required to attain the lower ridge - it's a difficult undertaking! There really is no trail and even the game trails are misleading because they are not generally trying to bag the peak. This may have changed in the over ten years since I scrambled it - but I remember wondering where I was going more than a few times while approaching the lower ridge.
[Engadine from the Buller parking area - route goes up the ridge starting in trees at lower left and gaining the rock at center before following it up to the summit on the upper right.]
Engadine was a real pleasure for me. Other than briefly getting lost on some really loose and nasty terrain in the way back down, I thoroughly enjoyed the exposure on the ridge. The fact that the weather was calm and warm and I had the entire mountain to myself only helped me enjoy it even more! As a matter of fact I had so much fun on the way up the ridge, I decided rather than get lost in the bush on the way down, I'd come back down the ridge too. There were several times on the way up that I seriously wondered if there was too much snow or the ridge looked too narrow but each time I'd press on and things would be exciting all over again.
If you decide to do this mountain make sure you've already done other difficult ones. This is a bad place to learn that you really don't like ridges and loose rock after all! Kane almost makes it sound like you can 'easily' bypass all the difficult areas by sticking to right-hand scree slopes but these slopes are nasty scree - kind of like Sparrowhawk only much steeper.
Don't look for a trail off of the Buller Creek hiking trail - you won't find one. Simply make a decision to branch to the right and go for it. There's no nice way to put this. Gaining the ridge sucks big-time. The sooner you can get yourself up onto the ridge the better off you'll be. I got lucky and after a short scramble up a ramp to my left I turned right up the ridge and never looked back. (But I should have so I'd recognize the terrain on my way back down...) Right away you'll be tested on whether or not you wish to continue. The ridge only gets narrower and more exposed so if at any point before the final 200 meters of scree you get nervous, be prepared for more of the same or worse. The views off the ridge are spectacular in every direction, so that might motivate you to keep going.
[This is the bush that awaits! Engadine's ridge in the far distance here. Crossing Buller Creek thankfully isn't part of the challenge - you should branch off before the bridge.]
[The lower ridge is already challenging. I would suggest looking back a few times so that you know the route and are aware what you will have to down climb if you return via the ridge.]
[It isn't always an option to traverse under the ridge simply due to slabby terrain like this.]
[Looking down what I presume is one of the 'escape gullies' that might be possible to follow off the ridge on descent. I didn't bother since I've heard many horror stories of folks getting off route in these gullies.]
[Good, fun ridge scrambling!]
[The first section is easy enough but it gets much more difficult than it appears just beyond.]
[Steep and fairly loose but lots of holds. Just don't pull on them...]
[Looking up Buller Creek at Mount Buller.]
[Incredible views over a very low Spray Lakes reservoir at the mighty Mount Assiniboine and Cone Mountain on the right.]
[I had to lose around 150' to get around an over hang on the ridge proper.]
After finally getting past the overhang (lose about 150 feet of height) I came to the last scree slope before the top. Due to unstable snow I was 'forced' to take the slabs to the right. They were much better than the scree but the loose rocks on top of the slabs resulted in sore hands from constantly having to get my balance. I topped out on the summit to a wind-free and glorious view in all directions. Mount Assiniboine and the lofty peaks around the Haig Glacier stole the show but many, many other summits were also visible.
[Looking off the ascent slopes towards the Haig Ice field (L) and Mounts Smuts and Shark (R). ++]
[Summit views now, from L to R prominent peaks include Joffre, French, Robertson, Burstall, Sir Douglas, King George, Commonwealth, Birdwood, The Fist, Smuts and Tent Ridge. ++]
[Lunette Peak and the Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies, Mount Assiniboine are clearly visible today. The route I followed goes up the left hand sky line ridge.]
[An amazing summit panorama from the Haig to Assiniboine. ++]
[Sparrowhawk (L) and Bogart (R) are just visible over the summit cornice.]
[The Tower lies just beside Engadine to the SE.]
[Great shot of French, Robertson and Sir Douglas (L to R) with Commonwealth Lakes underneath.]
[Looking east past Bogart on the left over hwy 40 towards the front ranges.]
[Looking over South Kidd towards Mount Allan.]
The only thing harder than going up the ridge is coming back down it. So naturally that's what I decided to do! I needed practice on my down climbs and I got it! When I got near the bottom of the ridge I forgot where I had gained the ramp and went too low. This resulted in me making some dumb decisions and ultimately I found myself going back up terrain that I couldn't believe I had just come down. The worst moment had me clinging desperately onto a patch of moss with both hands while my feet slipped out from under me and I dangled briefly over 100 feet of thin air... After that excitement I managed to find out where I had missed the ramp and quickly headed back to the car.
[Looking down the scree bash from the summit.]
[Looking across Little Buller to Mount Nestor and Old Goat Mountain.]
[Great views of Sparrowhawk with Wind and Lougheed in the background.]
[Those slabs under the summit of Buller bring back memories!]
[Descending under an over hang on the ridge.]
[Looking back up towards the summit - you can see the pebble-on-slab in the foreground.]
[More complexities on the ridge.]
Good thing I was making lots of noise through the bush (lots of bear scat) because there was a really big black bear not 100 meters from the trailhead. I watched him for a long time and it capped a wonderful day. On my drive home I spotted another black bear in the ditch, munching on Dandelion flowers and I spent another 30 minutes just watching him chow down. Beautiful creatures in their natural habitat - not the monsters so many folks seem to fear!
[A large bear near the Engadine trail head.]
[A much smaller black bear enjoying Dandelions in ditch along the Spray Lakes road.]