Summit Elevation (m): 2768
Elevation Gain (m): 600
Round Trip Time (hr): 3
Total Trip Distance (km): 5
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2/3 – You fall you sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: Steep, loose terrain if you take our route. There is a better route slightly further south to take in the summer.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
During the shoulder seasons in the Rockies, as a peak bagger you have two choices. You can either sit and home and whine about not getting out or you can try to make the most of it by bagging smaller objectives that you wouldn’t bother with normally. Wietse and I have been choosing door #2 for the past few weekends and this one was no different. The Highwood Pass closes for traffic on December 1, so most people try to take advantage of early season snowfall and ski areas like the Rae Glacier before the road closes but Wietse and I decided that rather than wreck our ski gear we would try hiking at the pass instead!
Little Arethusa sits just west of the main peak and is reputed to be easy and have wonderful views so we decided this was the perfect objective. The drive up to Highwood Pass was beautiful with some surreal morning light. Due to thick fog and the distraction of the morning sunrise I was almost 30 minutes late, but Wietse was patiently waiting for me at the parking lot. Originally we planned to approach via the Arethusa Cirque trail but Wietse had been looking at the west slopes from the parking lot for 30 minutes and decided we should go straight up from there. I agreed.
We chose a steep gully through the trees and it worked out perfect. When we got to the bottom of the west face we decided to simply go pretty much straight up it rather than traverse climber’s right to the southwest ridge. The rocks were a little slick with snow but we managed to gain the ridge higher up than we originally planned.
The final ridge walk was awesome with great (snowy) views of the surrounding peaks including Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra, Rae, Arethusa, Storm, Mist, Storelk and more. Of course the snow added to the drama. After snapping a few nice summit shots we headed back down to escape a rather cool and fierce wind. I highly recommend this little peak for an off season objective. The views are awesome and with some snow it seems a lot bigger than it is.