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Mist Mountain & Mount Lipsett

Summit Elevation (m): 3138
Elevation Gain (m): 1200
Trip Time (hr): 12
Total Trip Distance (km): 10 
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break something or worse
Difficulty Notes: A fall on the crux of Mist Mountain would severely injure or kill so take necessary precautions. Note: Mount Lipsett is an easy add-on which we did on this trip.
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps


On Saturday, August 30 2008 Keith and I set out to scramble Mount Lipsett and Mist Mountain. I originally wanted to scramble something difficult (like Mount Fox) but the weather was acting up again and it didn’t seem prudent to be on too much difficult terrain with unpredictable weather hovering around. The idea for a two peak day on Mist and Lipsett came from Dow William’s trip report on Mist Mountain where he details a traverse of the mountain starting up Kane’s difficult route on the southwest ridge and ending on the moderate route down the north ridge. Since Kane’s difficult route starts at the col between Mist’s south ridge and Mount Lipsett and since Lipsett is only marginally higher than the col, it only made perfect sense to bag it while we were there anyway.

Mount Lipsett & Mist Mountain Route Map

Mount Lipsett

There are two bridges right in a row on the highway near the trail head. At first we parked by the second one but soon realized our mistake since there was no ribbon marking the trail head anywhere near that stream! You should park on the east side of the road, just north of the first bridge. You will quickly find the trail on the north side of the stream. This trail is pretty good. I think it’s a game trail that has been trampled by hikers – it’s obvious but does run a bit thin in spots. We followed this trail until it suddenly wanted us to start climbing up a steep bank. If you are going up the north ridge you should continue on the trail. If you’re doing the loop that we did you should cross the stream here and head up a dirt bank on faint goat trails towards Mount Lipsett. We encountered very light bushwhacking on the south side of the stream as we contoured around Mount Lipsett towards the Lipsett / Mist col on a faint trail in the trees.

Looking back down our ascent valley from hwy 40, the SE summit of Highwood Ridge in the bg.

When the trees really thinned out we realized that we could either side-hill-bash all the way to the col or head up for an obvious break in the low angled cliffs on Lipsett. If we came up this break we would be between Lipsett’s two summits. Since the south summit on Lipsett is the highest one, we opted to try the break in an effort to traverse over this peak and then continue down to the Mist / Lipsett col before ascending Mist.

Our plan worked brilliantly. The break was easily negotiated and soon we were on the summit of Lipsett. After some photos and a quick break (we only took just over an hour from the car to reach the summit) we started down to the col on scree / mud towards the intimidating southwest ridge of Mist Mountain.

Views to the south include Odlum and Loomis on the right and Lineham on the left.
Views over the Mist col at the south ridge of Mist.

Dow seemed to think that Kane’s route wasn’t too difficult but it looked pretty bad from our angle. Like every scramble, it was hard to predict how difficult it actually is from a distance so we started trudging down to the col before tackling the route up Mist.

Mist Mountain

Once on the West Ridge of Mist Mountain, the scrambling was involved and fun. There were many route possibilities and the rock was solid(ish). We each chose a different rib to ascend to avoid kicking rocks down – not a good place to ascend with a large group of people. The scenery and the fun scrambling kept us occupied till we popped out on the south ridge. 

As you can see from this photo, the route is steep and very loose. Brain buckets are mandatory.

I would agree with Dow that the scrambling never feels that difficult on this section, although if you’re using it as a descent route it would be a lot tougher (simply because it would not be obvious where to avoid the more difficult stuff). As far as I remember, the most difficult move was immediately after leaving the scree and getting onto solid rock.

Down climbing an overhang on the west ridge.

The south ridge posed no problems and we were soon on the summit of Mist Mountain. Gorgeous views in all directions. The best view was to the east, where low laying clouds were creeping up the valleys making for dramatic photo opportunities. The wind was cool and after 30 minutes enjoying the summit we were ready to push on down the north ridge.

Summit views north include Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra, Highwood Ridge, Pocaterra Ridge, Rae, Storm, Arethusa and Cougar Mountain (L to R).
Gorgeous views over Highwood and Grizzly Ridges and up Highwood Pass.
Views over Lipsett in the foreground looking tiny over Storelk towards the Joffre group and even the Royal Group in the far distance.
Views from Grizzy and Highwood Ridge (R) to Tyrwhitt, Storelk, Joffre, Odlum, Loomis, Odlum Ridge, Highwood, Mist Ridge (L) and many other peaks.

The north ridge was interesting. I never really found it too difficult but there were some ‘no slip’ zones on it in places. Looking back at the summit as we descended made the ridge look much tougher than it felt! The most exposed sections were right after the summit. Dow mentions crossing over ‘numerous’ sucker descent gullies and he means numerous! We passed over quite a few (5 or 6) and came to a section of ridge that looked nasty. An obvious trail led into the gully so we followed it. Bad move.

The terrain is pretty big up on the descent ridge!

The next 1.5 hours was spent side-hilling through one gully after another on the west face of Mist Mountain. If we were goats this would have been a lot of fun. We’re not goats. It wasn’t that much fun. If you do the same route, do yourself a huge favor and stick to the ridge all the way off the mountain (as per Kane’s moderate ascent description) on descent! 

Looking back up the summit ridge of Mist as we descend.

Once we finally exited the west face we looked back and couldn’t believe some of the terrain we had come down. It wasn’t awfully difficult but sections of it were a bit dicey and picking a route across the gullies was tedious because we never knew if we’d get away with it or be suckered somewhere uncool. Our mountain sense must have been wired up on this occasion because we got pretty lucky a few times!

After finally exiting the west face we tromped down the grassy slopes towards the creek / trail keeping a keen eye out for grizzlies. On the way down the grassy lower ridge we discovered pink ribbon and plastic knives with numbering on them all over the ridge! It seemed a bit chaotic and trashy for an official scientific study but presumably that’s what it was for. The hike back along the creek was short and uneventful and we both agreed that this was a great outing and well worth more attention by the scrambling community.

Mist Mountain
46 photos
Keith descends easily to the Mist / Lipsett col from the summit of Lipsett.
Keith descends easily to the Mist / Lipsett col from the summit of Lipsett.
Looking down the lovely approach valley as we gain the col.
Looking down the lovely approach valley as we gain the col.
Looking down our approach valley up hwy 40 to Highwood Pass. Storm Mountain on the right.
Looking down our approach valley up hwy 40 to Highwood Pass. Storm Mountain on the right.
Keith on the initial scree slope on the west face of Mist.
Keith on the initial scree slope on the west face of Mist.
Looking off the west ridge down our approach route.
Looking off the west ridge down our approach route.
As you can see from this photo, the route is steep and very loose. Brain buckets are mandatory.
As you can see from this photo, the route is steep and very loose. Brain buckets are mandatory.
There are steep sections and some route finding to keep the scrambling moderate.
There are steep sections and some route finding to keep the scrambling moderate.
Looking off the ascent route west towards Odlum and over the Continental Divide into British Columbia.
Looking off the ascent route west towards Odlum and over the Continental Divide into British Columbia.
Keith on the west ridge of Mist.
Keith on the west ridge of Mist.
Down climbing an overhang on the west ridge.
Down climbing an overhang on the west ridge.
Keith surveys off the west ridge.
Keith surveys off the west ridge.
Getting very close to the south ridge now, looking south over the south end of it.
Getting very close to the south ridge now, looking south over the south end of it.
Some exposure off the ridge, this is looking down at Hwy #40 with Pocaterra and Grizzly Ridges and the spine of the continent to the left.
Some exposure off the ridge, this is looking down at Hwy #40 with Pocaterra and Grizzly Ridges and the spine of the continent to the left.
On the south ridge now, looking north.
On the south ridge now, looking north.
Keith is almost at the summit.
Keith is almost at the summit.
Summit views north include Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra, Highwood Ridge, Pocaterra Ridge, Rae, Storm, Arethusa and Cougar Mountain (L to R).
Summit views north include Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra, Highwood Ridge, Pocaterra Ridge, Rae, Storm, Arethusa and Cougar Mountain (L to R).
Views over Highwood and Grizzly Ridge to the Elk Range beyond.
Views over Highwood and Grizzly Ridge to the Elk Range beyond.
Views over Lipsett in the foreground looking tiny over Storelk towards the Joffre group and even the Royal Group in the far distance.
Views over Lipsett in the foreground looking tiny over Storelk towards the Joffre group and even the Royal Group in the far distance.
Looking south along the summit ridge down hwy 40 towards summits such as Lineham, Pyriform, Odlum, Loomis
Looking south along the summit ridge down hwy 40 towards summits such as Lineham, Pyriform, Odlum, Loomis
Looking directly east over Mist Ridge towards Gibraltar, Shunga-la-she and Highwood Peak (R to L).
Looking directly east over Mist Ridge towards Gibraltar, Shunga-la-she and Highwood Peak (R to L).
Summit panorama from east to south to west and even north!
Summit panorama from east to south to west and even north!
Vern on the summit of Mist Mountain with the view north in the bg.
Vern on the summit of Mist Mountain with the view north in the bg.
Keith leaves the summit, traversing north along Mist's summit ridge.
Keith leaves the summit, traversing north along Mist's summit ridge.
The terrain is pretty big up on the ridge!
The terrain is pretty big up on the ridge!
The ridge was a lot more interesting than we were expecting!
The ridge was a lot more interesting than we were expecting!
The ridge was a lot more interesting than we were expecting!
The ridge was a lot more interesting than we were expecting!
The ridge was wide in places with incredible views in all directions.
The ridge was wide in places with incredible views in all directions.
Looking back up the summit ridge of Mist as we descend.
Looking back up the summit ridge of Mist as we descend.
Looking back up the summit ridge of Mist as we descend.
Looking back up the summit ridge of Mist as we descend.
Still on the ridge, now we're looking at each gully we cross to see if it's the right descent gully. They weren't...
Still on the ridge, now we're looking at each gully we cross to see if it's the right descent gully. They weren't...
Still on the ridge, now we're looking at each gully we cross to see if it's the right descent gully. They weren't...
Still on the ridge, now we're looking at each gully we cross to see if it's the right descent gully. They weren't...
Looking across the west face at the gullies / terrain we will descend. We should have been more patient.
Looking across the west face at the gullies / terrain we will descend. We should have been more patient.
Keith follows me as we start our "lost traverse" across and down the west face and gully system on Mist.
Keith follows me as we start our "lost traverse" across and down the west face and gully system on Mist.
It's a long and LOOSE way down from here!
It's a long and LOOSE way down from here!
We'd get to a nice scree run and then get cliffed out!
We'd get to a nice scree run and then get cliffed out!
See? Now we have to re-ascend to get around a cliff band! Very frustrating way to route-find!
See? Now we have to re-ascend to get around a cliff band! Very frustrating way to route-find!
Finally getting off difficult terrain and to the north shoulder. Soon we will descend left.
Finally getting off difficult terrain and to the north shoulder. Soon we will descend left.
Looking back at the difficult terrain we descended. Somehow... ;)
Looking back at the difficult terrain we descended. Somehow... 😉
Wildflowers and the west face of Mist.
Wildflowers and the west face of Mist.
Mist on the left, Lipsett on the right.
Mist on the left, Lipsett on the right.
A study plot of some sort on the shoulder.
A study plot of some sort on the shoulder.
Keith looks back at our route down the west face before we plunge down grassy slopes to the creek below.
Keith looks back at our route down the west face before we plunge down grassy slopes to the creek below.

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