Summit Elevation (m): 2355
Elevation Gain (m): 975
Trip Time (hr): 5
Total Trip Distance (km): 11
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Mostly hiking and easy scrambling with some loose terrain and minor exposure along ridges.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
Taking advantage of my temporary bachelor status, I took Thursday July 10 2008 off work and drove down to the Crowsnest Pass area to do an interesting and short scramble – Thunder Mountain. Why is this mountain interesting? Well, it’s the first mountain in the Canadian Rockies climbed by a non-aboriginal. I thought that was cool. Thanks to Bob Spirko’s trip report and first hand accounts from Wietse and Keith, I knew that it was a good solo objective too. First of all, it’s not a super-long trip. Secondly, it’s not very difficult and thirdly, it’s mostly a ridge walk so there’s less chance of running into angry mammals on the way.
Since I left home pretty early, I managed to get to the trail head at around 08:15 under a pretty clear sky. The forecast didn’t look to bright anywhere else in the Rockies, which is the other reason I drove 2 hours to do a short scramble. By 08:30 I was hoofing it up a thin trail to the crest of the ridge. The trick is to drive past the ridge and then turn around a park on the side of the road. You should spot a line trending up to the ridge crest from here. There’s a plaque on a rock right near the top of this line.
From here to the summit there are multiple lines and many cairns to follow. I would rate some of the terrain as moderate but mostly it can be avoided. This was a terrific scramble on fairly decent rock with great views. The wind was actually much stronger on the ridge than closer to the summit which was a rare gift in the Crowsnest area! I took almost an hour at the summit to take pictures, look around and catch a quick nap before heading back down. It was a considerably hotter descent than the ascent and the wind felt good.
A highly recommended scramble, especially if you’re solo or looking for a short, leisure day. I took my time and was down within 5 hours.