After scrambling up and down Burstall Mountain in 3 hours on September 01 2009 I was sitting in my car driving back to my camp in Elkwood thinking, "now what do I do the rest of the day?!".
Since I had scrambled Brett and Pilot the day before I thought I would want a short and easy day but I strangely felt myself wondering if I could possibly still bag another peak since the rain clouds from the morning had dissipated and I was left with a warm and sunny afternoon.
I decided that since I still had Storm Mountain to complete the Highwood Pass area in Kane's book I would try that one. I told myself not to rush it as I had already done 3500 meters of height gain in the last 1.5 days but the weather had other plans for that idea...
I found the trail head no problem after parking at the suggested spot. The afternoon was hot and soon I was sweating my way up the excellent access trail to the pristine meadows southwest of Storm. I felt very privilaged to be out there on that particular afternoon with the whole mountain to myself.
I followed the trail as it stayed high above the stream on my right - Storm is a great solo objective simply because the trail keeps you away from any trouble including bear habitat. The trail stays a bit too high and eventually you can either choose to descent to the valley bottom and a great little stream or stay high on climber's left of the stream. I chose to stay high but knew that my luck would eventually run out and it did. I had to either traverse tricky terrain for essentially no reason or lose about 30 meters of height so I chose the later and soon was tramping up scree to the high ridge on Storm.
This part sucked. Big time. There is no nice things to say about the scree bash on Storm. The terrain is slightly grippy slab but mostly it's just one scree field after another for about 400 vertical meters. In the heat of the afternoon sun with tired legs this wasn't cool. Plus there was a small, threatening cloud building up to the south and I knew that the afternoon weather forecast was calling for thunderstorms. I kept my pace at a good clip because of this.
Once on the ridge I still had a long ways to go. Looking up at the south (false) summit I almost turned around! I just knew that the cloud was getting closer and bigger and when I looked, sure enough! It was gaining momentum and size. I told myself that I had to be near the summit within an hour or it was game over for this peak.
An hour later I was staring up at the difficult terrain just east of the summit asking how this was a 'moderate' peak. It turns out, on hindsight, that I should have gained the ridge sooner but all the trails led me to where I was standing. I reluctantly put myself back on difficult terrain and soon stood on the summit. Great views kept me around for a few minutes but then the gathering storm (how appropriate for this particular mountain!) chased me back down.
I down climbed the steep and loose summit block and traversed back to my ascent slopes. I didn't want to risk a different descent but I should have - it would have been quicker and most likely safer. Descending my ascent route was loose and involved sending tons of rocks down. Don't do Storm with a big group!
Around 4.5 hours after leaving the car I was done. This wasn't my favorite mountain but I was tired and rushed so that didn't help. The access trail is great and the alternate descent sounds fun so I think most scramblers would enjoy it if they had the time!
Looking back at Storm's approach from the parking lot. The ascent valley is on the right and the alternate descent on the left of the triangular hill.
The access valley is gorgeous.
The trail is very good and quickly gets you high above tree line.
I went up on climbers left of the rock out cropping. You can see how much fun this terrain was!
See that small 'innocent' cloud? 3 hours later it was pouring and thundering furiously...
Looking up at the false summit on the right and true summit on the left from the ridge.
The traverse over to the true summit from the false one is fun.
The terrain is very loose. I started a large rockslide that kept going for a few minutes far down the mountain. You can see the dust cloud here.
Traversing over to the main peak:
Looking back as the clouds continue to build:
Great summit shot of Mount Rae:
View to the southeast off the summit:
Vern on the summit of Storm Mountain:
Summit panorama (click to view full size):
The summit block terrain was more difficult than I was expecting but I think I should have been up on the south ridge sooner after looking at Alan Kane's route photo.
Great views and a building storm!
A storm brewing over a Storm. ;-)