Summit Elevation (m): 3150
Elevation Gain (m): 2000
Round Trip Time (hr): 11
Total Trip Distance (km): 25
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: This is a long day hike / easy scramble from hwy 11. Don’t underestimate the effort required!
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
On Sunday, July 07, 2013 I was joined by Steven and Ben for a long scramble up Resolute Mountain near the White Goat Wilderness north of the North Saskatchewan River valley and up Thompson Creek, just east of Mount Cline. After a pretty long outing on Friday, we apparently thought we were ready for an even longer outing on Sunday! Resolute is not often summitted, if for no other reason than it’s a bloody long day and sits right beside an 11,000er (Cline) so is not seen as a worthy summit. After completing it I can say that it IS worth the long day and the many meters of height gain.
We started early, anticipating afternoon thunderstorms, at 04:40 from the Thompson Creek bridge (near a campground). The trail on the right side of the creek was obvious even in the predawn light. What also became obvious right away was the recent flood damage to the creek bed and parts of the nearby trail! Almost immediately we were forced off the old trail onto a new one, which was really only beat-down grass at this point. Considering the flood was only 2 week previous, I was impressed that there was a new trail already forming! I think this first section is the shared approach with Cline, so it makes sense that it sees more traffic.
Eventually we had to bail out of the creek due to flooding and debris and we almost immediately found flagging and the track again. I’m calling it a ‘track’ because from this point it’s not always obvious where to go. Basically if you stick to climber’s right of the creek and stay high above it (but about 100 vertical meters below any rock bands above), you’ll be fine. There are many cairns marking the route up and around a steep hillside (far above the creek here) but even then the track is quite easily lost, especially when you come to the shoulder-high growth in the slide paths.
Once we worked our way along the hillside we saw where the creek splits for the last time, and knew we had to descend and take the left branch. Here we found the track again and followed it up a very steep embankment to access the upper hanging valley above tree line and in sight of the high col, Mount Cline and our destination – Resolute.
Once we were above tree line in the upper hanging valley we started to encounter steep snow patches that we either had to cross or avoid by ascending or descending around them. We kicked steps across a few low-angled ones before it was time to don the crampons. The snow was rock-hard and we were all wearing light footwear in anticipation of the long hike so we couldn’t easily kick our way across or up the slopes. Ben didn’t have crampons and started to look for ways around the snow while Steven and I took full advantage of the great conditions and went straight up to the col on steep, firm snow. I love snow climbing in gullies! So much better than scree slogging up!! After topping out I commented to Steven that Ben was surely 45 minutes behind us. To our great surprise when we gained the broad ridge above the col, Ben was right below us already. We were shocked at how quickly he came up the scree slope and all he had to say in return was, “I gave ‘er because I didn’t want to slow you guys down”! That’s a good line…
The views in all directions were gorgeous, with Cline and the three White Goat peaks stealing the show. We ascended the ridge the whole way to the summit of Lion, except for a brief detour around the false summit. There was some exposure and small ‘notches’ to deal with but nothing hard. The views kept getting better and better as we went higher and the scrambling on the ridge was good fun. The weather was perfect with some clouds building but no wind and cool temps. 6 hours after leaving the car we were on our first summit of the day.
After enjoying the views for a while it was time to traverse over to the second summit of Resolute – Lioness Peak.
After summiting Lion Peak, it was time to traverse over to Lioness for our second summit of the day. I’ll admit, I was very skeptical that this summit deserved a “summit” rating but I wasn’t going to argue about it since it is an officially named peak. After doing the traverse I don’t have a problem with it anymore.
The traverse isn’t too technical or hard, but it is extra work on top of a large day just to get to the main Lion Peak. We dropped down west slopes and contoured around the impressive cliffs on the south face of Lion Peak before dropping the packs and walking up Lioness. The views kept improving as we traversed – we were happy that the forecast clouds / rain weren’t cropping up to ruin our views. We enjoyed a short summit stay before heading back down.
After a million summit photos we headed back. The descent was long but softer snow made things much easier in the upper valley and soft scree from the upper col worked well too. After traversing back along the summit block of Lion you can maintain your line straight across obvious open scree slopes to get back to the Cline / Lion col, rather than re-ascend to the base of Lion’s false summit like some of insisted on.
I would highly recommend doing these summits in early summer to take advantage of excellent snow conditions in the upper hanging valley. It helps on ascent (avoids scree) and descent (quick and saves your knees!). Remember to bring crampons and ice ax if you plan on doing a snow ascent. We found a better track along the creek on the way out and realized that even where the track pretty much vanishes, there should be blazes on trees and cairns built.
Our round trip time of around 11 hours should be considered fairly quick since we didn’t stop moving most of the day and we were going at a good pace. Many folks will take over 13 hours for this trip which makes sense given the distance, rough track and height gain. I LOVE these types of scrambles! Remote, great scenery and not many names in the summit register. What more could you want? Highly recommended.