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Victoria Peak & Ridge

Summit Elevation (m): 2569
Elevation Gain (m): 1600
Round Trip Time (hr): 7.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 25
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 3 – You fall you break something
Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling with some route finding to keep it moderate on the peak, mostly hiking and easy scrambling with some very loose terrain and minor exposure along the traverse to Victoria Ridge.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
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I camped in my truck near the Pincher Ridge parking spot so that I could take advantage of the nice weather and a week off with some Nugara scrambles. The day after scrambling Pincher Ridge I decided to give Victoria Peak and Ridge a shot.I brought my bike to help make the potentially long day a bit shorter because for the first time in a very long time, rain and even t-storms were in the forecast for the afternoon and evening.

Victoria Peak & Ridge Route Map

Victoria Peak

I got to the parking area around 07:30 and by 07:40 I was huffing and puffing my bike up the approach road. Eventually I came to the top of a pretty long hill and decided it was worth leaving the road at this point and heading on foot for the obvious gully.

Looking off the ridge near where I had to traverse climber’s left – obviously the terrain at left here isn’t scrambling anymore! Gladstone (L) is visible.
Beautiful views over the traverse towards Windsor and Castle Peak with Gladstone on the right.

It took me less than 2.5 hours to the summit of Victoria Peak and the rest of the route to the summit of Victoria Ridge looked very LONG from my vantage at the summit. It was colder and windier than the day before on Pincher Ridge, so I don’t linger but started the trek to Victoria Ridge.

Victoria Ridge

Ridge traverses are usually awesome and Victoria Ridge is no exception to this rule. With light winds and cool temperatures I moved pretty quickly, south from the summit of Victoria Peak, really enjoying the views west towards Castle Mountain – although smoky haze did ruin them a bit.

As I work my way above the cliff bands, this is looking west over Mill Creek over the brilliant colors of the Castle Wilderness towards Windsor and Castle Peaks at left.
Look at all that PINK! This is looking back at Victoria Peak from about half way along the traverse. It’s a long way.

The one bad surprise came when I finally topped what I thought was the summit of the ridge and realized that I still had to drop a bit before going up even more! Oh well. The wind was picking up and I wanted to avoid any bad weather so I snapped some quick photos from the true summit and headed down. The traverse from Victoria Peak to Ridge took me 2.5 hours – but I was motoring along pretty quickly.

Panorama of the entire traverse from Victoria Peak, just right of center.

The trail for Victoria Ridge is one of the nicest exits I’ve ever done from a peak! It’s all either soft sand or gravel / dirt and it’s design is fantastic! First it traverses high above Pincher Creek before contouring around a massive drainage and plummeting into the valley below. With the fall colors this trail is breathtaking and beautiful. It was my favorite part of the day actually.

The trail continues to snake along on the east side of the ridge above Pincher Creek – staying above tree line as long as possible.
Incredible scenery around Pincher Creek.

My second favorite part of the day was the 4 minute bike ride back to the truck! No wonder I was tired on my ride up – its all downhill. My total trip time was just under 7.5 hours, but I was going pretty quick all day. I highly recommend this scramble / hike for a nice calm fall day. And make sure you take the excellent ridge trail on the way out – you may find that the best part of your day.

Victoria Ridge
Stunning color as I make my way towards Victoria Ridge.
Stunning color as I make my way towards Victoria Ridge.
Stunning colors as I work my way along the ridge to the left.
Stunning colors as I work my way along the ridge to the left.
Looking back up at Victoria Peak from the first low point. You'll lose a lot more elevation than this on the traverse
Looking back up at Victoria Peak from the first low point. You'll lose a lot more elevation than this on the traverse
As I work my way above the cliff bands, this is looking west over Mill Creek.
As I work my way above the cliff bands, this is looking west over Mill Creek.
It's a bit of scrambling work to get around these bumps which sit over big cliffs.
It's a bit of scrambling work to get around these bumps which sit over big cliffs.
Looking back over the terrain I've traversed already - Victoria Peak right of center, already getting distant.
Looking back over the terrain I've traversed already - Victoria Peak right of center, already getting distant.
Looking off the ridge back at Victoria Peak.
Looking off the ridge back at Victoria Peak.
Look at all that PINK! This is looking back at Victoria Peak from about half way along the traverse. It's a long way.
Look at all that PINK! This is looking back at Victoria Peak from about half way along the traverse. It's a long way.
My favorite area of the traverse was just as I was getting onto the ridge proper for Victoria Ridge. Notice how Windsor and Castle are now almost behind me!
My favorite area of the traverse was just as I was getting onto the ridge proper for Victoria Ridge. Notice how Windsor and Castle are now almost behind me!
Windsor (L) and Castle Peak (R).
Windsor (L) and Castle Peak (R).
Great sheep trails assisted me while traversing beside some of the bumps along the way.
Great sheep trails assisted me while traversing beside some of the bumps along the way.
I find the trail again, after losing if for a while.
I find the trail again, after losing if for a while.
Following the good trail up to the false summit of Victoria Ridge. At this point I'm kind of tired of the whole traverse thing.
Following the good trail up to the false summit of Victoria Ridge. At this point I'm kind of tired of the whole traverse thing.
Looking back from near the false summit of the ridge. Note Victoria Peak in the FAR distance just left of center.
Looking back from near the false summit of the ridge. Note Victoria Peak in the FAR distance just left of center.
This is the nice surprise you get when going over the false summit... It's not as far as it looks - thank goodness!
This is the nice surprise you get when going over the false summit... It's not as far as it looks - thank goodness!
Victoria peak at far left, Pincher Ridge at far right.
Victoria peak at far left, Pincher Ridge at far right.
Panorama of the entire traverse from Victoria Peak, just right of center.
Panorama of the entire traverse from Victoria Peak, just right of center.
Looking down the Drywood Creek valley, Victoria Peak, Pincher Ridge and Drywood Mountain from left to right.
Looking down the Drywood Creek valley, Victoria Peak, Pincher Ridge and Drywood Mountain from left to right.
Windsor and Castle Mountain are behind me now - a completely different view!
Windsor and Castle Mountain are behind me now - a completely different view!
A good trail back down to Pincher Creek helped me enjoy this exit immensely - not usually how a long day like this ends!
A good trail back down to Pincher Creek helped me enjoy this exit immensely - not usually how a long day like this ends!
The trail stays as much above tree line as possible.
The trail stays as much above tree line as possible.
This late in the season, I was all alone up here.
This late in the season, I was all alone up here.
The trail continues to snake along on the east side of the ridge above Pincher Creek - staying above tree line as long as possible.
The trail continues to snake along on the east side of the ridge above Pincher Creek - staying above tree line as long as possible.
Eventually the exit trail reluctantly starts descending through forest, down to Pincher Creek.
Eventually the exit trail reluctantly starts descending through forest, down to Pincher Creek.
The smells, the colors, the lack of crowds and smoke makes it a magical time of year that never lasts long enough, even in dry / warm years!
The smells, the colors, the lack of crowds and smoke makes it a magical time of year that never lasts long enough, even in dry / warm years!
The trail continues to make excellent use of open areas, where possible.
The trail continues to make excellent use of open areas, where possible.
In the lower valley and hiking out of the Pincher Creek drainage.
In the lower valley and hiking out of the Pincher Creek drainage.
Incredible scenery around Pincher Creek.
Incredible scenery around Pincher Creek.
Looks like we might FINALLY get some rain this fall. It did rain at night but was back to good weather the next day for my scramble up Drywood Mountain.
Looks like we might FINALLY get some rain this fall. It did rain at night but was back to good weather the next day for my scramble up Drywood Mountain.

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