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Whymper, Mount

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!

Mount Whymper Route Map

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!

My route is obvious. Follow the major gully on the right until above the first two cliff bands. Then traverse left onto the southeast ridge and follow it to the summit. Come down and around the left side of the photo.

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.

Looking east out of my ascent gully with Storm Mountain at right.

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).

Summit panorama over hwy 93 includes, Castle (L), Storm, Ball, Beatrice, Stanley, White Tail, Verendrye, Haffner, Vermillion, Foster, Hewitt, Tumbling, Gray, Drysdale, Limestone and Helmet (R).
Summit panorama looking west (L) and north (R) includes, Hewitt (L), Tumbling, Gray, Drysdale, Limestone, Helmet, Goodsirs, Sharp, Hungabee, Deltaform, Chimney, Chickadee, Quadra, Bident, Hector, Panorama Ridge, Bell, Boom, Armor, Protection, Pulsatilla, Castle, Bonnet, Mystic, Noetic, Ishbel (R) and many others.

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.

Fall views from the descent looking over #93 towards Mount Stanley (R).

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.

Mount Whymper
64 photos
Follow the major gully on the right until above the first two cliff bands. Then traverse left onto the southeast ridge
Follow the major gully on the right until above the first two cliff bands. Then traverse left onto the southeast ridge
A beautiful fall day - definitely better than sitting in a stuffy office tower.
A beautiful fall day - definitely better than sitting in a stuffy office tower.
Looking up my ascent gully.
Looking up my ascent gully.
Great views already, back over hwy 93 towards Ball, Beatrice and Stanley (L to R).
Great views already, back over hwy 93 towards Ball, Beatrice and Stanley (L to R).
It's loose, but fairly quick terrain as I approach the first cliff band.
It's loose, but fairly quick terrain as I approach the first cliff band.
Looking down the drainage to the highway.
Looking down the drainage to the highway.
Great scrambling through these lower cliff bands!
Great scrambling through these lower cliff bands!
Great scrambling through these lower cliff bands!
Great scrambling through these lower cliff bands!
Looking back again, getting much higher now.
Looking back again, getting much higher now.
Starting to get a wee bit nervous about cliffing out.
Starting to get a wee bit nervous about cliffing out.
I could have started my traverse off the east face onto the south ridge here, but I kept ascending instead.
I could have started my traverse off the east face onto the south ridge here, but I kept ascending instead.
Looking down at the top of the first few cliff bands.
Looking down at the top of the first few cliff bands.
This was a fun section of scrambling.
This was a fun section of scrambling.
Obviously I needed to find a way around this set of cliffs! Climber's left, or behind me in this photo, is the way to go.
Obviously I needed to find a way around this set of cliffs! Climber's left, or behind me in this photo, is the way to go.
Obviously I needed to find a way around this set of cliffs! Climber's left, or behind me in this photo, is the way to go.
Obviously I needed to find a way around this set of cliffs! Climber's left, or behind me in this photo, is the way to go.
Looking down my route.
Looking down my route.
Here is where I started trending climber's left. I still ran into some difficult terrain, but not too bad.
Here is where I started trending climber's left. I still ran into some difficult terrain, but not too bad.
Nearing the summit ridge, looking south down Hwy 93.
Nearing the summit ridge, looking south down Hwy 93.
Looking back over the east face of Whymper from the south ridge.
Looking back over the east face of Whymper from the south ridge.
Storm Mountain (R).
Storm Mountain (R).
An easy plod to the summit up the south ridge.
An easy plod to the summit up the south ridge.
Looking over Chickadee Valley towards Chickadee Peak and Boom Mountain in the fg.
Looking over Chickadee Valley towards Chickadee Peak and Boom Mountain in the fg.
View over the summit towards Castle with Boom at left.
View over the summit towards Castle with Boom at left.
Bell, Chickadee and Chimney Peak.
Bell, Chickadee and Chimney Peak.
Storm, Ball, Stanley, Haffner and Vermilion over hwy 93.
Storm, Ball, Stanley, Haffner and Vermilion over hwy 93.
Vermilion at left with the Rockwall at right.
Vermilion at left with the Rockwall at right.
Looking past Storm Mountain (R) and over Vista Lake.
Looking past Storm Mountain (R) and over Vista Lake.
Storm, Ball, Stanley, Haffner and Vermilion over hwy 93.
Storm, Ball, Stanley, Haffner and Vermilion over hwy 93.
Ball (C), Beatrice and Stanley (R).
Ball (C), Beatrice and Stanley (R).
Storm Mountain.
Storm Mountain.
Ball, Beatrice and Stanley (R).
Ball, Beatrice and Stanley (R).
Mount Ball.
Mount Ball.
Stanley Peak.
Stanley Peak.
Verendrye, White Tail and Wardle.
Verendrye, White Tail and Wardle.
White Tail, Verendrye and Floe.
White Tail, Verendrye and Floe.
Floe (L), Foster, Hewitt and Tumbling (R).
Floe (L), Foster, Hewitt and Tumbling (R).
Tumbling (L) and Gray (R).
Tumbling (L) and Gray (R).
Storm Mountain's ski route goes straight up the center of this photo, curving left to the summit.
Storm Mountain's ski route goes straight up the center of this photo, curving left to the summit.
Looking across the Chickadee Valley and Boom Mountain.
Looking across the Chickadee Valley and Boom Mountain.
Views NW.
Views NW.
Looking past Chimney Peak (R) to a distant Deltaform (L).
Looking past Chimney Peak (R) to a distant Deltaform (L).
Chimney, Quadra and Bident loom over Chickadee Peak (C).
Chimney, Quadra and Bident loom over Chickadee Peak (C).
Quadra and Bident (R) make Chickadee (L) look tiny in the fg.
Quadra and Bident (R) make Chickadee (L) look tiny in the fg.
Mount Bell through the Chickadee (L), Boom (R) col.
Mount Bell through the Chickadee (L), Boom (R) col.
Mount Bell.
Mount Bell.
Douglas and St. Bride.
Douglas and St. Bride.
Castle Mountain.
Castle Mountain.
Castle Mountain with Pulsatilla rising beyond.
Castle Mountain with Pulsatilla rising beyond.
Storm Mountain - which I would summit the next day in a snow storm. Vista Lake far below at left.
Storm Mountain - which I would summit the next day in a snow storm. Vista Lake far below at left.
Looking over Mount Sharp towards the Goodsirs buried in cloud.
Looking over Mount Sharp towards the Goodsirs buried in cloud.
The Rockwall and Goodsirs at left, Valley of Ten Peaks at center and Boom at right.
The Rockwall and Goodsirs at left, Valley of Ten Peaks at center and Boom at right.
Looking deep into Chickadee Valley towards Quadra.
Looking deep into Chickadee Valley towards Quadra.
The ascent route for Chickadee at bottom running up.
The ascent route for Chickadee at bottom running up.
Looking down my descent route via the easy south ridge.
Looking down my descent route via the easy south ridge.
Looking down the route, which descends to tree line and then doglegs to the left.
Looking down the route, which descends to tree line and then doglegs to the left.
Gorgeous fall views towards Stanley Peak as I round the south ridge and head back to the highway.
Gorgeous fall views towards Stanley Peak as I round the south ridge and head back to the highway.
The slopes to hwy 93 were bushier than I was expecting but easily navigated.
The slopes to hwy 93 were bushier than I was expecting but easily navigated.
Looking over the burn towards Storm Mountain.
Looking over the burn towards Storm Mountain.
Beautiful colors in the burn but my clothes / skin got pretty dirty from the ashes!
Beautiful colors in the burn but my clothes / skin got pretty dirty from the ashes!

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