Summit Elevation (m): 3033, 2695, 2660
Trip Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Elevation Gain (m): 1650
Round Trip Time (hr): unknown
Total Trip Distance (km): 24
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break something or worse
Difficulty Notes: A fall on the crux of Pika would severely injure or kill so take necessary precautions. Brachiopod and Anthozoan are easy to moderate scrambles.
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)
Map: Google Maps
Jon and I woke up early on September 6 2005 to clear skies and started up the trail to Hidden Lake and the slopes of Pika Peak. Pika is the most difficult of the ‘Kane’ Skoki scrambles and we both wondered what we were in for.
We were a bit stiff from scrambling Richardson and Ptarmigan the day before but after 20 minutes on the trail we were starting to warm up.
Once we got to Hidden Lake we briefly considered going partly around the lake before heading up to Pika but quickly dismissed this notion because we didn’t know if there was a path through the cliff bands between Ptarmigan and Pika. Good thing we made this choice! We chose the upper side slope between Ptarmigan and Pika and actually followed a faint trail most of the way. We stayed up high, near the base of the cliffs and it always seemed to work out. The scree was frozen solid which made some of the traverses interesting.
Eventually we made it to the Richardson / Pika col and started up the ‘tough stuff’. It really wasn’t that bad at all – I would rate it as moderate / difficult. Near the top it was quite exposed and with a light dusting of snow we had to be very careful but again nothing you wouldn’t expect on a difficult scramble. The views were absolutely stunning in every direction under the clear morning skies and we stayed at the summit for an extra few minutes just soaking it all in.
After a gorgeous half hour on the summit, it was time to head back to our camp at Hidden Lake, to pack up and move on to our Baker Lake camp site and scramble our next two objectives for the day, Anthozoan and Brachiopod mountains.
My favorite Skoki scramble, I highly recommend Pika Peak.
After scrambling Pika Peak earlier in the day on September 6 2005, and then backpacking from the Hidden Lake campground to the Baker Lake campground it was time to traverse Anthozoan Mountain. Before I get into that, I must stress that the bugs at the Hidden Lake camp were terrible, even in early September. This surprised us – we had assumed that a few good frosts would have killed off the mosquitoes, but it didn’t.
We didn’t originally plan on a full traverse of the mountain. To tell you the truth I was quite surprised by how far apart the Brachiopod and Anthozoan summits are. The two are fairly distinct mountains even though they are part of the same ridge system.
I would certainly NOT recommend doing Anthozoan the way Kane has it pictured in the scrambles book. We tried the side-sloping method from the pass and other than losing elevation needlessly and traversing endless blocks of loose scree and slabby terrain we didn’t gain anything over the method I would propose! I would suggest that you first tag the north summit via scree slopes directly from the Brachiopod / Anthozoan col and then traverse the entire length of Anthozoan to tag the true summit. The traverse is moderate at most and is quite pleasant.
After tagging the true summit I would either bail to the valley below (you’ll have to regain height to the Brachiopod col) or go back the way you came. Really I would suggest that you traverse Brachiopod from north to south, go down to the col and then traverse Anthozoan, bagging both of its summits before bailing to the valley and enjoying an easy hike back out.
I enjoyed the views off of Anthozoan and once we figured out that the traverse (on the way back) was the way to go I rather enjoyed this little mountain. I wasn’t liking things so much on the way up though! After Anthozoan it was time to take our lesson and do a complete north to south traverse of Brachiopod Mountain.
After summitting Anthozoan Mountain it was time to try Brachiopod. We thought we would apply our lessons learned and instead of traversing the slopes to the north summit, we would first tag the south summit of Brachiopod and then traverse the entire mountain to the north and tag the true summit that way. I believe that this is the only way to do it. Actually I would first tag the true summit of Brachiopod, then do the traverse, go down the col and ascend and traverse Anthozoan but we kind of did the reverse of that.
Traversing Brachiopod was not difficult. I would say that the scrambling is actually a more enjoyable ‘moderate’ rating this way rather than just a boring scree slog. Don’t get me wrong! It’s still a boring scree slog to reach the south summit but after that it was good fun. Just before the north (true) summit there is some fairly interesting scrambling up slabby terrain that I would also call ‘moderate’ rather than ‘easy’.
Like all the mountains in the Skoki area, Brachiopod sported incredible views into the valleys below and the surrounding peaks. All of that aside, it was not my favorite ascent in the area. The next day we did another mountain traverse, Oyster Peak, which I enjoyed more.