Summit Elevation (m): 2850
Trip Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Elevation Gain (m): 1130
Round Trip Time (hr): 7
Total Trip Distance (km): 14
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: A fall on the crux would likely result in a bad end to your day. Other than that I felt this was more moderate than difficult.
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps
After spending 2 weeks on a family vacation in Kelowna, I was ready for the serenity of a rarely climbed peak. Tuesday, August 14 2007 proved to be the perfect day for a mid-week scramble up Mount Warspite. Wietse and I had been planning a jaunt up Mount Hector with an experienced local climber named Scott Berry. For some reason I felt very strongly that we would be unsuccessful on this venture and besides I’ve wanted to ski Mount Hector for a while already – not slog up it in summer. On the morning of our departure I still insisted that we should change our objective if we wanted to successfully attain a summit.
After some deliberation, Scott suggested Mount Warspite. I’ve been interested in this peak for a while already and since it offered the chance for a two peak day (combined with Mount Invincible) I thought it was a perfect backup choice. Wietse was disappointed in the change of plans but since he was out voted he decided to play nice and agree to the change. Some mountains actually have a more memorable approach trail than the actual scrambling or climbing, and according to me, Mount Warspite is one of these peaks. The hike up to tree line and to the base of the scree ramp is simply gorgeous. Even if you don’t desire to scramble up to the peak, you owe it to yourself to check out the sublime alpine valley above the lower lake and below the upper one, commonly known as the Black Prince Tarn area. Also making the morning hike magical was the low cloud cover over surrounding peaks.
The scrambling bits on Mount Warspite are nothing to look forward to. Like many other Rockies scramble routes, it’s mainly a scree bash with very little hands-on scrambling. I tried to stick to snow on the approach ramp to the col between Black Prince and Warspite and this was a good choice, I think. I would recommend climbing this mountain when there’s a bit more snow – it would be much more enjoyable but possibly a bit more advanced if the snow was hard (crampons) or too loose (avalanches). As a matter of fact, we all thought that Warspite did not deserve a ‘difficult’ rating when dry. Maybe Kane did this peak with snow on it but other than really loose rock, it’s upper ‘moderate’ at most.
So why do you want to scramble this pile of loose choss? Because the approach hike is awesome and the views from the top are simply stunning. From Joffre in the south to Sir Douglas to the west the view includes the impressive Royal Group and many of the Kananaskis Lakes and Spray Lakes mountains.
It turns out that our decision to abandon an attempt on Hector was a good one. When Scott and I suggested the traverse over to Invincible, Wietse admitted he had a nasty stomach ache and we had to abort the traverse. We will be back to do it some day, because in all honesty that looked like the most entertaining part of the day. It also looked very doable to attach Invincible from the mining road that Kane mentions, as a day trip on its own. I’ll let you know how that one goes when I get around to it.
On the way down we spent over an hour just lounging around, listening to Scott’s infamous Bow Hut approach avalanche tale (you’ll have to ask him – it’s an amazing story of survival) and soaking up the afternoon sunshine and smell of wild flowers.
I have never seen so many flowers on a hike before, so if you’re into flowers don’t forget that macro lens, like I did. I’ll be back some day with that lens.