Numa Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 2720
Elevation Gain (m): 1700
Round Trip Time (hr): 10.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 25
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Mostly hiking with some route finding and easy scrambling up an avalanche gully.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Download
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Friday July 05 2013 was a perfect day to escape Calgary (Stampede parade day…) so a group us did what we always try to do when we ‘escape’ – namely bag a peak! Steven, Wietse, Dave and I would join Kevin, Kelly and Scott along hwy 93 in Kootenay National Park and ascend something there. On the drive up we debated about the original destination – Mount Wardle. We weren’t too enthused about a possible 1000 vertical meter bushwhack and subsequently made a decision to tackle the much more pleasant Numa Mountain instead.

Numa Mountain Route Map

After collecting Kev and Scott from the Wardle parking area, we joined Kelly at the Floe Lake trail head and started up the excellent backpacking trail to Floe Lake and the Rockwall hike. This trail is very pleasant (for the first 7-8km anyway…) and we chatted our way along the 6km approach to the avalanche slope leading up to Numa’s summit block. I stayed behind the group and was distracted constantly by the hundreds of wild flowers everywhere – honestly this is the best trail I’ve been on for flower photography in a long time. After approximately 6km (just over) we found ourselves looking up an avalanche slope with a nice angle for ascent. We knew this must be the right slope and started up.

The first ~8km of trail towards Floe Lake is in great shape.
Stunning views from our avalanche slope ascent route back over Floe Creek towards Floe Lake.

Once the terrain on the avy slope opened up a bit we started a slow trend to climber’s left. Scott and Kelly didn’t realize that the bump on climber’s right wasn’t part of the main mountain and ended up gaining some extra meters. The burnt forest is pretty open and easy to navigate – as you come around on a side hill, you should start to see Numa Mountain’s gentle summit bump coming into view.

Mount Ball and Hawk Creek / Ridge at left. Verendrye, Floe and Foster at center and right.

We made the summit under perfect conditions – barely any wind and a warm sun. We spent almost an hour at the top enjoying the stupendous views and naming peaks in every direction. This mountain should be done more often considering how technically easy it is and how amazing the surrounding terrain is! Scott and Kevin decided to return via our ascent route due to time constraints, while the rest of us chose a more scenic and adventurous return via Numa Pass and Floe Lake. And a much longer return.

The Rockwall at left and the Ball range at right.
Stanley, Ball, Isabelle and Hawk Ridge.
Mount Drysdale in front of South Goodsir at left. Sharp Mountain rising over Limestone Peak at center.
The impressive Vermillion Range marches its way from Foster at right to the south past Verendrye towards Mount Wardle.

Scott has been on the Rockwall trail before, and indicated that he thought there was a simple scree slope down from the false summit all the way to Numa Pass. Since this sounded so easy and since none of us had ever been to Floe Lake before, we decided it was worth the extra 4-5km to see a new section of the trail. We also assumed that the Floe Lake trail would continue to be as excellent as it had been on our approach.

Descending to Numa Pass with the Rockwall at right and Vermillion south range at left.

As it usually happens in the mountains – a few too many assumptions are never a great thing. While Scott was correct that there was a relatively easy descent from Numa Mountain to Numa Pass, he forgot a small detail. That would be the 100 vertical meters you have to regain to reach the pass after descending the false summit! Oh well. Not too bad – but you’ve been warned now. After an extremely enjoyable and scenic descent to Floe Lake it was time to tackle the 10.7km back along the trail to the parking lot. We were all feeling tired and sore at this point but we had an excellent trail to follow so it was ‘robot’ mode right? Wrong.

Beautiful Floe Lake and Mountain from under Numa Pass.
Hiking down towards Floe Lake.
Floe Lake with Floe Mountain rising above.

The trail condition down the headwall below Floe Lake was in dismal shape. Avalanches had washed burnt and live timber across the steeply switch-backed trail and really made a mess out of it! We had to crawl through debris before cutting down the switchbacks and cutting through it again and again. This was tiring in the heat of the afternoon – but we eventually made it through. I’m sure eventually someone will make it into the area with a chainsaw but for now you should be aware of this section of trail. It’s not long but with a big overnight pack it’ll suck.

Steven does some avy debris gymnastics!

The rest of the way out was easy but long after a very full day. I highly recommend Numa Mountain as an easy / moderate outing with an excellent optional egress that serves up even more views than you’ve already experienced on the main mountain.

One thought on Numa Mountain

  1. Interesting. I hiked to Floe Lake today. What is interesting about this is the elevation gain. From the final portion of the switchbacks just before Floe Lake I was definitely scoping out Numa and I could almost swear it was ~400-500m more gain. Like it looked *really* close. And I know how often it looks that way due to foreshadowing but I am surprised by the 1,700M of gain for this peak. I was ~750 to the lake and so I was generally thinking Numa would be say…~1,200′ ish gain. Obviously I am wrong. Was a eventful hike. Oddly enough I have never hiked this route and never hiked through a burn that large. Fascinating to observe how long it takes the forest to come back. That fire was 2003 and there is not a tree in sight. Tons of shrubs and all manner of plants but definitely no trees. Or very little. Someone was saying it takes a 100+ years for the forest to start coming back. Haha never seen so much fireweed! Some of the avalanche slops were just 100% covered in it

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