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Observation Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 3174
Trip Date: August 07, 2009
Elevation Gain (m): 1100
Trip Time (hr): 4
Total Trip Distance (km): 8.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: As long as it’s dry, this is mostly an off trail hike, or easy scramble. All bets are off when there’s snow on the route.
GPS TrackDownload GPX File
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps


Finding myself with a free weekend in the summer is a very rare occurrence, so when it happened on the weekend of August 7, 8 and 9 I arranged a 3 peak extravaganza! The first summit would be a solo effort so I chose something without a lot of difficulties and a short approach, Observation Peak.

Observation Peak Route Map

There really isn’t a lot to say about this scramble, it’s pretty easy and it’s hard to get lost. Simply follow Alan Kane’s instructions and you’ll encounter no difficulties. A number of people have either attempted or done this mountain with snow and apparently this can be tricky due to avy slopes. I started the day with a pleasant walk down the approach road towards the access avalanche gully. It was obvious where to branch into the gully and soon I was sweating my way up the gully on grass (lots of mosquitoes) until it finally transitioned to scree.

Once on scree I followed a trail (still very loose) up interesting terrain. Despite appearances the terrain stayed within the realm of easy scrambling. Once near the “top”, I discovered I wasn’t. 🙂 The south ridge kept going and going but the views were so stunning and the day was so pleasant I didn’t care.

More easy scree slopes up to the summit ridge. It’s much easier than it appears thanks to a clear trail most of the way up.
The true summit lies at the north end of the ridge and is quite a bit further along it than I was expecting.

I think the summit of Observation holds the record of my longest stay on a summit – definitely the longest solo one. I spent 2 hours napping and enjoying the unbelievable summit panoramas in every direction. Smoke levels were very low and my camera almost overheated as a consequence.

(L to R), Quill, Conical, Siffluer, Loudon, Isabella Lake, Fuhrer, Perren, Marmot, Simpson, Recondite, Kentigern, Clearwater, Harris, Willingdon, Bobac, Dip Slope, Watermelon, Cataract, McConnell, Drummond, Puzzle, Douglas, Molar, Minnow and Hector (R). And many others.
L to R, Hector, Bow, Temple, BowCrow, Crowfoot, Balfour, Vulture, Olive, St Nicholas, Gordon, Portal, Thompson, Jimmy Simpson, Rhondda, Habel, Ayesha, Baker, Peyto, Trapper, Laussedat, Caldron, Mistaya, Mummery, Barbette, Freshfields, Patterson, Breaker, Aries, Midway, Forbes, Howse, White Pyramid, Chephren, Erasmus, Amery, Wilson, Weed, Murchison, Spreading and Cline. And many more, believe it or not!

Descent was fast and easy. I still can’t believe that I didn’t meet anyone else on such a gorgeous day, but I suppose many folks were still working. I’m sure glad I wasn’t!

One more panorama over the Recondite approach which runs up the foreground valley from right to left, past Isabella Lake and then back right all the way to Recondite, which is the pointy peak at center.

As a summer objective this is a fast outing (I took less than 4 hours up and down but had a 2 hour nap / break on the summit!) and has very respectable views – I highly recommend it.

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