Wendell Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 2380
Trip Date: Friday, April 13, 2007
Elevation Gain (m): 1600
Round Trip Time (hrs): 9
Total Trip Distance (km): 20
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling over or around the pinnacles on the upper ridge, especially if there’s snow or ice.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps

After being inspired by both Andrew Nugara’s and Rob Eastick’s recent ascents of this relatively obscure and out-of-the-way peak, Wietse and I decided to give it a shot on a beautiful April Friday. I should also mention Bob Spirko who started the whole re-interest in the CMC valley peaks again. You will have to work for this peak! Our day started off rather dull and dreary with a gray sky, but high spirits were enough to carry us the 400 vertical meters up Yamnuska’s east ridge. From here we should have paid more attention to the trip reports and maps (how often haven’t I said that?!) because we ended up doing some rather nasty bush whacking both on the way down and the way back up from the CMC valley. This was nasty off-roading, something I strongly suggest you avoid at all costs. I’ve tried cleaning up the GPS track so it’s not too bad.

Wendell Mountain Route Map

Eventually we made it to an over grown road that we followed further along the north side of the ridge until we met up with another trail running down into the valley and took it all the way across the creek and the major trail running east-west into the valley. We followed this trail under the impressive CMC wall, Mount Doom and Wendell’s east peak. As we got closer and closer to the end of the valley, the steep walls of Goat Mountain, Hassel Castle (Old Fort Peak) and Morrowmount rose imposingly above us. We also started to realize how long this trip is! It took a while and some wasted elevation gain – hint: don’t gain elevation before you come around the west end of Wendell, to get around to the southwest side of our mountain. By the time the final scree slog to the ridge came into view the clouds had disappeared and we were under brilliant blue skies.

Bolstered by the change in weather we raced up the scree. NOT. The scree was kind of loose and kind of frozen so in a word – it sucked. Big time. We decided to cut up to climber’s right instead of the easier line to the left. On hindsight maybe the ridge splitting the scree slope would be worth investigating. We ended up at a slabby section that was tricky because of all the snow and ice. The wind was also a concern, but thankfully it came and went in short but very intense bursts. Wietse managed to gain the ridge via a slabby route that he didn’t want to down climb and I went up a steep, narrow snow gully.

Once on the ridge we headed up over the pinnacle. Andrew indicates a way around the pinnacles, we came up between them and couldn’t find a way around because of all the snow and ice. The ridge was narrow in places and I would rate this scramble as moderate because of a few ‘no slip’ zones. The snow and wind made these a bit tricky but no big deal. After the fun parts on the ridge the rest of the route is just a hike to the top. We enjoyed a few minutes taking pictures but than the wind drove us back down.

An impressive summit panorama looking from north to west to south includes Baldy, Midnight, Fisher, Old Goat, Ribbon, Old Fort, Lougheed, Windtower, Rimwall, Gap, Big Sister, Morrowmount, Peechee, Girouard, Orient Point, End (L to R).

The scree was quite a bit more fun on the way down than on the way up! I even managed some decent boot-skiing but that was over quickly as we reached the valley bottom and made our way back out.

An excellent day out – but very long. I think we went about 21 km and a total of about 1600(+) meters height gain. I’m very impressed with Andrews time of around 7 hours. We took over 9 and were going pretty steady most of the day. The bushwhacking didn’t help us with energy levels or time! A good early season objective.

One thought on Wendell Mountain

  1. Hey Vern,

    Great write up! My team have been doing research in this area for the past few years, and I can definitely say you have nailed the big problems in getting to this location.

    The bushwacking is brutal, but we have learned to minimize it by keeping along the rise to your right after you drop into the trees along the main trail. There is a large windfall that can lead you to head left towards the creek and into some willows. DON’T GO THERE. You are going to need that energy for the scree! (same for gaining and dumping elevation that I have seen on some other maps and tracks) Just skirt around the windfall and keep moving forward and one will regain the trail we have been using. Careful hikers will find our lightly set trail out into the alluvial fan/dry creek bed but with the rains and vigorous brush growth this year its not nearly as clear.

    We were last there a couple of days ago and the berries are out in full, and the bears scat is full of them, so don’t forget your spray.

    I’ve never done the scree with snow, looks like it might be a fair bit easier. We tend to stick to the loose for our ascent. I find the slabs a bit treacherous with a light covering of scree. I have ascended with both trekking poles and a piolet and strongly recommend using the latter for that bit of misery.

    I’m glad to have found your site and will browse it further. Hiking for me has always been the means to an end but I found I was missing it and being into the back country and so might want to try a few of your scrambles for their own sake.

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