Summit Elevation (m): 2845
Elevation Gain (m): 1250
Trip Time (hr): 4
Total Trip Distance (km): 7
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something.
Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling with some route finding to keep it moderate.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps
I’d been saving Mount Whymper for a solo outing when I didn’t have a whole bunch of time. On Wednesday, September 30 2009 I found myself dropping the kids off at school at 08:00 with a full day ahead of me and nothing much to do (still looking for a job in a very soft market after taking the summer off…). I hastily decided on Mount Whymper as an objective worthy of the day and ‘sped’ off towards Kootenay National Park. As I tend to do with all mountains that have a short amount of time rating, I underestimate that they’re still a mountain!
I parked at the Stanley Glacier trailhead and walked back up the highway a short distance before cutting through the bushes on the west side and starting up the giant avalanche slope to the base of the scrambling. I’d heard from several sources that the scrambling on Mount Whymper can get difficult if one goes off route and I was looking forward to the challenge. The avalanche slope was a great way to warm up in the 2 degree temps and soon I was in just a t-shirt and still sweating!
Once I got onto the rock, the breeze got a bit chilly and prompted me to climb a bit faster since that was easier than putting my jacket back on. The rock steps were a blast. Soon I was through the first cliff band and trying to make sense of Kane’s description. He basically says that the scrambling should never get steeper than the first cliff band on his route. He also says that once you’re above this band and you’re “tired of the scree” you should traverse climber’s left onto Southeast slopes to the summit.
I started thinking that maybe people climb too high before traversing out of the cliffy terrain so I decided I was tired of the scree already and headed left. Well, I was probably a wee bit hasty in this decision, but I got to explore some new terrain and even did a short, difficult section of climbing in the process! The rock was solid and the sun was warm and since I knew I was going down an easier way I wasn’t worried about climbing some difficult stuff. I was a bit concerned that I may get into a cliff or something and have to back down but I kept traversing left until I crossed 2 gullies and came onto the easy south ridge of Whymper and the slopes to the spacious summit.
The summit presented a glorious view of many familiar peaks including Storm, Ball and Stanley. I also had a great view of the Southeast faces of Quadra and Bident – not seen this way by me before. I could see how Bident is a scramble from that side (according to Rick Collier – which means it’s still low 5th class).
After enjoying the summit views, I descended a loose drainage on the south side of the mountain and contoured back around to skier’s left around the mountain and back to my car. I encountered far more bushwhacking than I was prepared for – it wasn’t terrible but it was annoying, especially with the burn. Now I know what to expect on Mount Ball anyway! I should have traversed skier’s left till I found another gully but I didn’t go quite far enough left and ended up pretty much bushwhacking to the road.
My round trip time of 4 hours was quick but this peak was definitely fun and is highly recommended. I’m still not sure where the ‘moderate’ route goes but there’s obviously a myriad of routes possible on this mountain and if you’re careful they should all lead you to summit safely.