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)
Map: Google Maps
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.