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Yoho Peak (Waterfall Valley)

Summit Elevation (m): 2760
Trip Date: August 13, 2011
Elevation Gain (m): 1330
Round Trip Time (hr): 12-14
Total Trip Distance (km): 30
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain something.
Difficulty Notes: Mostly a hike with some off trail, easy scrambling to the peak. Some years it may be tough to avoid the Des Poilus Glacier.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps


Mount Des Poilus has been on my radar for quite some time. Originally it was always a ski objective but lately I’d also been looking at it as a possible summer peak. After reading Andrew Nugara’s one day ascent of Yoho Peak and a separate (impressive!!) one day climb of Mount Des Poilus I had the brilliant idea to combine the two with a bivy to eliminate two long day trips and a repeat of  the somewhat tedious approach. When Raf indicated that he was also interested in Des Poilus as a summer trip, I told him of my plan to spend 1.5 days near the Des Poilus glacier and combining Yoho and Des Poilus into one trip. He loved the idea. On August 13 & 14 2011 we were joined by Alan Fortune for this little adventure.

 

We didn’t start too early on Saturday, thinking that Yoho Peak is a pretty tame objective. I was surprised to learn (in the parking lot) that nobody in our group had done a ton of research on the route and given a web site failure on Nugara’s site we were left with a bit of guesswork regarding the best place to bivy and even the best approach for Waterfall Valley and Yoho Peak! Ah well, what’s life without some guesswork right? 😉

Yoho Peak Route Map
We start off down the well maintained Yoho Valley trail in perfect weather.

We decided that we would approach Waterfall valley via the Twin Falls / Whaleback Ridge route. This worked well. The only issue with this approach is the height and distance loss from the top of the Twin Falls approach trail to Twin Falls. Basically you end up doubling back and losing height when in theory you could bushwhack straight into waterfall valley from the top of the hike – this isn’t recommended though – the trail is much easier and keep impacts to flora at a minimum.

After taking some photographs and a pleasant journey down memory lane with Alan at the top of Twin Falls (he remembers when there was free, random camping up there) we struck out up waterfall valley. The trail into the valley runs up beside the stream running over Twin Falls on climber’s right. Soon we were passing another impressive falls, after which the stream we were beside calmed down a bit – the main torrent being further west, out of sight from the trail.

Eventually the trail topped out on a small rise and we descended through thinning trees to a tarn sitting underneath the  south ridge of Yoho Peak. On ascent we decided to ‘shortcut’ to the des Poilus glacier and left the trail to climber’s right. I think you should try to stick to the trail – it’s easier and more level. The trail continues from the tarn on climber’s left – going up yellow karst pavement and sticking to the gully system trending slowly to climber’s right and into the des Poilus region. Soon we could see our main objective, which appeared glorious in the afternoon sunshine!

Near tree line – Des Poilus visible at top right now.

A nice surprise was the rather large glacial lake at the toe of the des Poilus glacier that is not marked on any map that I’ve seen. We were very tempted to set up our bivy on a nice bench above this lake, but logic dictated that we should try to camp closer to the glacier and to our objectives. Logic won over our desire to drop the packs and we continued past the lake on a well-defined trail. The trail quickly became quite rough as we cut across a cliff band and dropped down to the glacier. We managed to find an excellent bivy, literally about as far up and as close to the glacier as you could possibly be without being on it. This meant we could crampon and rope up right from camp the following morning and wouldn’t have to negotiate loose, rocky terrain at 03:00 with head lamps.

Raf and Alan resist the temptation to bivy here already and we head off for the glacier.

After setting up camp and after Raf demonstrated his love for glaciers – don’t ask – and having a bite to eat we set off for Yoho Peak. Loose, blocky terrain led to the Collie / Yoho col.

Ascending the north ridge of Yoho Peak (L) with views of the des Poilus Glacier and mountain at center and right.

From there we ascended easy slopes to a great summit panorama of the Yoho and Wapta area including our main objective – Mont Des Poilus. We were delighted to see tracks on the upper slopes – route finding would not be a problem anymore. We also spotted two figures far below on the glacier, slowly making their way down. We were surprised how late they were on the mountain considering the very warm temperatures but quite happy that we would most likely have a ‘staircase’ to the summit the following day.

Views over des Poilus Tarn and Whaleback towards the Presidents (L) and Isolated and McArthur (C).
Descending Yoho Peak in early evening lighting.
Incredible summit view from Lake Louise, Cathedral and Stephen at left to the Presidents, Isolated, McArthur at center and Arete, des Poilus, Collie, Habel, Rhondda and Thompson at right.
Raf and Alan ascend the north ridge of Yoho Peak with Mont des Poilus and Arete (L) rising in the background.

After a delicious cup of coffee and supper, Raf and Alan got into Raf’s bivy-sized tent (!!) and I snuggled into my bivy sack under a clear sky. I slept wonderfully with a cool breeze coming off the glacier and the sound of a nearby stream. I slept so soundly that I didn’t hear my 03:10 alarm!

Yoho Peak
71 photos
We start off down the well maintained Yoho Valley trail in perfect weather.
We start off down the well maintained Yoho Valley trail in perfect weather.
We start off down the well maintained Yoho Valley trail in perfect weather.
We start off down the well maintained Yoho Valley trail in perfect weather.
Thundering Point Lace Falls
Thundering Point Lace Falls
My favorite small flower - the Twin Flower
My favorite small flower - the Twin Flower
The trail gets tighter after the Little Yoho River junction.
The trail gets tighter after the Little Yoho River junction.
Getting further above the Twin Falls Creek before it joins the Yoho River.
Getting further above the Twin Falls Creek before it joins the Yoho River.
A great little falls on Twin Falls Creek.
A great little falls on Twin Falls Creek.
A great little falls on Twin Falls Creek.
A great little falls on Twin Falls Creek.
Some deadfall across the trail.
Some deadfall across the trail.
Trolltinder Peak doesn't see many ascents.
Trolltinder Peak doesn't see many ascents.
A very steep grunt on a great trail running up beside Twin Falls.
A very steep grunt on a great trail running up beside Twin Falls.
The steep trail up Twin Falls.
The steep trail up Twin Falls.
Looking down Twin Falls and the Yoho Valley.
Looking down Twin Falls and the Yoho Valley.
The old camping area at the top of Twin Falls.
The old camping area at the top of Twin Falls.
The old camping area at the top of Twin Falls.
The old camping area at the top of Twin Falls.
Looking down Twin Falls and the Yoho Valley.
Looking down Twin Falls and the Yoho Valley.
Raf on top of Twin Falls.
Raf on top of Twin Falls.
Alan near the precipice of Twin Falls. People have slipped and died from this point.
Alan near the precipice of Twin Falls. People have slipped and died from this point.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls.
Twin Falls Creek
Twin Falls Creek
The trail continues to be obvious and in great condition as it runs up Waterfall Valley.
The trail continues to be obvious and in great condition as it runs up Waterfall Valley.
Waterfall Valley is sublime hiking.
Waterfall Valley is sublime hiking.
Hiking in Waterfall Valley.
Hiking in Waterfall Valley.
Hiking in Waterfall Valley.
Hiking in Waterfall Valley.
The trail is much less defined higher up as we approach tree line - this is looking back down valley.
The trail is much less defined higher up as we approach tree line - this is looking back down valley.
Near tree line - Des Poilus visible at top right now.
Near tree line - Des Poilus visible at top right now.
We left the trail soon after this but it's not worth it - stick to the trail until "Des Poilus Tarn" under the glacier.
We left the trail soon after this but it's not worth it - stick to the trail until "Des Poilus Tarn" under the glacier.
Rougher ground towards des Poilus Tarn and Glacier.
Rougher ground towards des Poilus Tarn and Glacier.
Rougher ground towards des Poilus Tarn and Glacier.
Rougher ground towards des Poilus Tarn and Glacier.
Alan with Des Poilus getting closer now.
Alan with Des Poilus getting closer now.
Des Poilus looms over the glacier and Des Poilus Tarn.
Des Poilus looms over the glacier and Des Poilus Tarn.
The gorgeous and unexpected view of "Des Poilus Tarn" with the glacier just beyond.
The gorgeous and unexpected view of "Des Poilus Tarn" with the glacier just beyond.
Raf and Alan resist the temptation to bivy here already and we head off for the glacier.
Raf and Alan resist the temptation to bivy here already and we head off for the glacier.
Getting closer to the Des Poilus Glacier with our mountain looming at upper left.
Getting closer to the Des Poilus Glacier with our mountain looming at upper left.
Figuring out the route - we came from the left and are going to the right on a pretty great trail beaten into the scree which is horribly loose.
Figuring out the route - we came from the left and are going to the right on a pretty great trail beaten into the scree which is horribly loose.
At the bivy.
At the bivy.
Leaving the bivy, hiking towards the north ridge of Yoho Peak.
Leaving the bivy, hiking towards the north ridge of Yoho Peak.
Loose terrain!
Loose terrain!
Tracks on des Poilus will make tomorrow easier.
Tracks on des Poilus will make tomorrow easier.
Near the col and the site of the new Guy Hut. Yoho Peak on the left, Des Poilus on the right our bivy site at bottom center somewhere.
Near the col and the site of the new Guy Hut. Yoho Peak on the left, Des Poilus on the right our bivy site at bottom center somewhere.
Looking off the north ridge towards des Poilus Tarn.
Looking off the north ridge towards des Poilus Tarn.
Great evening lighting as we make the col.
Great evening lighting as we make the col.
Raf ascends the ridge on Yoho Peak with dramatic lighting on Des Poilus in the background.
Raf ascends the ridge on Yoho Peak with dramatic lighting on Des Poilus in the background.
Raf and Alan on the north ridge of Yoho Peak.
Raf and Alan on the north ridge of Yoho Peak.
Raf and Alan on the north ridge of Yoho Peak.
Raf and Alan on the north ridge of Yoho Peak.
Mont des Poilus.
Mont des Poilus.
Collie on the left, Habel and Rhondda at center, Thompson at distant right.
Collie on the left, Habel and Rhondda at center, Thompson at distant right.
Great lighting on Stephen, Vice President, President (L to R).
Great lighting on Stephen, Vice President, President (L to R).
Cathedral & Stephen at left, Arete at center left, des Poilus, Collie and Rhondda to the right.
Cathedral & Stephen at left, Arete at center left, des Poilus, Collie and Rhondda to the right.
Looking SE towards Temple, Victoria, Huber, Hungabee, Biddle and Cathedral (L to R).
Looking SE towards Temple, Victoria, Huber, Hungabee, Biddle and Cathedral (L to R).
Mount Collie.
Mount Collie.
Mount Thompson is an unpleasant grunt, but does have great views.
Mount Thompson is an unpleasant grunt, but does have great views.
Mount Forbes.
Mount Forbes.
Lush green valleys with soaring ice fields and glacier capped peaks including Victoria and Hungabee.
Lush green valleys with soaring ice fields and glacier capped peaks including Victoria and Hungabee.
Mount Temple looms over Aberdeen
Mount Temple looms over Aberdeen
Collie (L) with Habel and Rhondda at distance.
Collie (L) with Habel and Rhondda at distance.
Mount Daly.
Mount Daly.
Mount Balfour
Mount Balfour
Late day shadows over the Des Poilus Glacier as we descend back to camp.
Late day shadows over the Des Poilus Glacier as we descend back to camp.
Descending Yoho Peak.
Descending Yoho Peak.
Descending Yoho Peak.
Descending Yoho Peak.
At the bivy.
At the bivy.
At the bivy.
At the bivy.
An ice cave in the des Poilus Glacier.
An ice cave in the des Poilus Glacier.
At the bivy.
At the bivy.

 

One thought on Yoho Peak (Waterfall Valley)

  1. Thanks so much for this trip report Vern. Was inspired to visit the area after seeing views from Whaleback. Was there this weekend and unfortunately Des Poilus is fading fast. The tarn might soon be called a lake… Doesnt look like I can post photos.

    Also, for anyone else attempting this, there is now a trail which avoids sidehilling the tarn passing closer to the gully below Yoho Peak.

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