logo

Crown Peak & Willingdon South Tower

Summit Elevation (m): 3355
Trip Date: August 31, 2013
Elevation Gain (m): 2400
Total Trip Distance (km): 40 
Related Trips: Willingdon, Devon, Dip Slope, Deluc, Harris
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes:  With snow and ice there is some difficulty on the traverse but nothing too extreme.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Download
MapGoogle Maps


After enjoying a spectacular summit on Mount Willingdon it was time to head over to two sub peaks (and separate peaks) to the south east of the main summit. These peaks both have unofficial names – Crown Peak and South Tower and should be considered somewhat official, considering that they are some work to attain and well over 100m vertical separates them from each other. What makes them very interesting is that they both measured over 11,000 feet on my GPS with Crown Peak coming in almost 40 feet over! On my calibrated altimeter watch only Crown stayed in the 11,000er club with South Tower falling just short. In the end – who cares? But the views from the summits make both these peaks worth the effort and they even have some short scrambling sections and route finding.

Update 2022 – Crown Peak was measured with a high degree of accuracy to be 3355 meters by R. MacLennan and B. Makuk in 2019. They also measured South Tower and put it at 3342 meters – just shy of 11000 feet as I suspected.

Mount Willingdon Route Map including ascents of Crown Peak and Willingdon South Tower.

Crown Peak

The route up Crown Peak is pretty obvious. Stick to the ridge until encountering anything too difficult and bail to climber’s right, traversing small bits of the SW face under the ridge to avoid anything too technical or exposed. The summit contained a register with only a few handful of entries and more spectacular views in all directions – including great views of Willingdon.

Willingdon, Augusta, Recondite and Harris as we ascend the summit ridge of Crown Peak and clouds to the east clear off.
Looking over the Siffleur River Valley and Devon Lakes. Upland Lake is the darker one under Devon.
Willingdon, Augusta, Recondite and Harris with Crown at right.

Willingdon South Tower

After summiting Crown Peak we began the descent to the Crown / South Tower col. There were a few anxious moments of wondering what the terrain was going to give us but we managed to avoid all major difficulties by traversing the SW face below the ridge and around any cliff bands that we encountered.

Descending towards Willingdon South with the two brilliant Devon Lakes at center and the darker Upland Lake to their right under Devon Mountain.
The amazing views continue as we ascend South Tower.
A massive panorama from Clearwater, Willingdon, Crown, Augusta and Recondite at left to Icefall, Harris, Malloch, Snort, Dip Slope, McConnell, Cataract and center and Devon, Temple and many, many others in between.

The slog up the easy NW ridge / slopes was mercifully short and soon we were enjoying yet another sunny, clear and cool summit view. After fueling up for the long descent and hike ahead of us, we descended to the col and scrambled back up to Crown Peak’s summit (far easier than trying to traverse the whole way on slick slabby and rubbly terrain on the SW face). The descent back down Crown was interesting in places but we soon arrived back at the beautiful tarn between Crown and Willingdon and stopped for a breather here.

Willingdon with the tarn as seen from the descent slopes of Crown Peak.
The lovely tarn at the Willingdon / Crown col.

For our descent to camp, we utilized as much loose scree / snow as we could, contouring around the south ridge and avoiding the cliff bands on the lower part by contouring back to skier’s right and around them into the valley where we bivied.

Egress from Devon Lakes via Quartzite Col

After packing up camp underneath Mount Willingdon and across from the Devon Lakes, we began the long hike back to the parking lot. The hike was awesome. A stiff, cool west breeze kept the bugs away and us from overheating. The scramble back over Quartzite Col really sucked the energy out of us but again, the cool late summer breeze was an unexpected refreshment.

Looking over Clearwater Pass towards Dip Slope it’s hard to believe it was snowing yesterday.

After finishing with the Quartzite Col it was simply a matter of finding the faint trail to the Mosquito Creek trail and then plodding back to the car while planning our next big adventure.

This was a fantastic trip to an area that’s been on my radar for many years already. I’ll certainly be back to explore it more in the future! Our total height gain for the trip was around 4000 meters – and that’s with a day of inactivity on Friday.

Crown Peak & Willingdon South Tower
A surprising view of Willingdon's summit from the south ridge.
A surprising view of Willingdon's summit from the south ridge.
Looking towards Recondite and Augusta with thinning cloud cover.
Looking towards Recondite and Augusta with thinning cloud cover.
Descending to the Crown / Willingdon col.
Descending to the Crown / Willingdon col.
The unexpected tarn between Willingdon and Crown. Willingdon on the left here.
The unexpected tarn between Willingdon and Crown. Willingdon on the left here.
Traversing from the col up Crown Peak.
Traversing from the col up Crown Peak.
Heading up fresh snow / scree on Crown Peak. There was some route finding involved in keeping things moderate scrambling.
Heading up fresh snow / scree on Crown Peak. There was some route finding involved in keeping things moderate scrambling.
On the summit ridge of Crown Peak.
On the summit ridge of Crown Peak.
Willingdon from near Crown Peak's summit.
Willingdon from near Crown Peak's summit.
Approaching Crown Peak with Devon Lakes and Willingdon taking the foreground.
Approaching Crown Peak with Devon Lakes and Willingdon taking the foreground.
Mount Harris is a near-11000er.
Mount Harris is a near-11000er.
Willingdon, Augusta, Recondite and Harris with Crown at right.
Willingdon, Augusta, Recondite and Harris with Crown at right.
Eric comes up to the summit of Crown with Willingdon behind.
Eric comes up to the summit of Crown with Willingdon behind.
Looking over the Siffleur River Valley and Devon Lakes. Upland Lake is the darker one under Devon.
Looking over the Siffleur River Valley and Devon Lakes. Upland Lake is the darker one under Devon.
Willingdon, Augusta, Recondite and Harris with Willingdon South at right.
Willingdon, Augusta, Recondite and Harris with Willingdon South at right.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Forbes, Lyells, Columbia and other giants show up behind Willingdon. Recondite on the right.
Forbes, Lyells, Columbia and other giants show up behind Willingdon. Recondite on the right.
Balfour looms over the Siffleur Valley.
Balfour looms over the Siffleur Valley.
Hector with Temple on the left and the Goodsir Towers on the right.
Hector with Temple on the left and the Goodsir Towers on the right.
Descending towards Willingdon South with the two brilliant Devon Lakes at center and the darker Upland Lake to their right under Devon Mountain.
Descending towards Willingdon South with the two brilliant Devon Lakes at center and the darker Upland Lake to their right under Devon Mountain.
The amazing views continue as we ascend South Tower.
The amazing views continue as we ascend South Tower.
Looking back at Crown Peak with Willingdon visible to its left.
Looking back at Crown Peak with Willingdon visible to its left.
Looking west over Devon Lakes with Willingdon and Crown Peaks on the right.
Looking west over Devon Lakes with Willingdon and Crown Peaks on the right.
Eric comes up to the summit.
Eric comes up to the summit.
Deluc, Cataract at left with Douglas and Drummond at center distance.
Deluc, Cataract at left with Douglas and Drummond at center distance.
Dip Slope with Snort and McConnell in the distance.
Dip Slope with Snort and McConnell in the distance.
Mount Ball, Quadra and Temple.
Mount Ball, Quadra and Temple.
Willingdon at right with Bobac, Forbes and the Lyells in the background.
Willingdon at right with Bobac, Forbes and the Lyells in the background.
Augusta and Recondite to the north.
Augusta and Recondite to the north.
Abraham Lake is barely visible past Kahl and Icefall peaks to the north.
Abraham Lake is barely visible past Kahl and Icefall peaks to the north.
A giant panorama from Lake Louise to the Columbia Icefields.
A giant panorama from Lake Louise to the Columbia Icefields.
Re-ascending Crown Peak with the South Tower in the back ground.
Re-ascending Crown Peak with the South Tower in the back ground.
The terrain around the summit of Crown Peak is a bit exposed and slick with fresh snow.
The terrain around the summit of Crown Peak is a bit exposed and slick with fresh snow.
Some tricky down climbing from Crown Peak to the Willingdon col.
Some tricky down climbing from Crown Peak to the Willingdon col.
Willingdon with the tarn as seen from the descent slopes of Crown Peak.
Willingdon with the tarn as seen from the descent slopes of Crown Peak.
The lovely tarn at the Willingdon / Crown col.
The lovely tarn at the Willingdon / Crown col.
Descending to the bivy.
Descending to the bivy.
You can see the cliff bands (L) that we avoided on descent (and ascent).
You can see the cliff bands (L) that we avoided on descent (and ascent).
Back near the bivy site.
Back near the bivy site.
Looking over Clearwater Pass towards Dip Slope it's hard to believe it was snowing yesterday.
Looking over Clearwater Pass towards Dip Slope it's hard to believe it was snowing yesterday.
Heading back to the Siffleur River Valley.
Heading back to the Siffleur River Valley.
Ben hikes out under the giants we just climbed.
Ben hikes out under the giants we just climbed.
Willingdon, Crown and Tower with Upland Lake on the right and Devon Mountain on extreme right.
Willingdon, Crown and Tower with Upland Lake on the right and Devon Mountain on extreme right.
The amazing terrain and views of the Siffleur Valley on the trail to Quartzite Col.
The amazing terrain and views of the Siffleur Valley on the trail to Quartzite Col.
The valley is a sublime paradise.
The valley is a sublime paradise.
Looking north past Clearwater Mountain (R).
Looking north past Clearwater Mountain (R).
Looking south to Pipestone Pass.
Looking south to Pipestone Pass.
Quartzite Col from near the Siffleur River.
Quartzite Col from near the Siffleur River.
The Siffleur River Valley.
The Siffleur River Valley.
Re-ascending Quartzite Col.
Re-ascending Quartzite Col.
The Quartzite Col is an ugly, ugly place compared to the beauty all around it.
The Quartzite Col is an ugly, ugly place compared to the beauty all around it.
From Quartzite Col looking at Willingdon, Crown, South Tower and Devon.
From Quartzite Col looking at Willingdon, Crown, South Tower and Devon.
Much nicer views west of the col! Mosquito Creek runs down the valley just north of Noseeum Mountain on the left.
Much nicer views west of the col! Mosquito Creek runs down the valley just north of Noseeum Mountain on the left.
Descending from Quartzite Col.
Descending from Quartzite Col.
Descending from Quartzite Col.
Descending from Quartzite Col.
Noseeum rises over Mosquito Creek. Puzzle Peak to our right here.
Noseeum rises over Mosquito Creek. Puzzle Peak to our right here.
Noseeum rises over Mosquito Creek. Puzzle Peak to our right here.
Noseeum rises over Mosquito Creek. Puzzle Peak to our right here.
Descending steep banks out of the hanging valley and into the lower valley which will take us to Mosquito Creek.
Descending steep banks out of the hanging valley and into the lower valley which will take us to Mosquito Creek.
Back along Mosquito Creek with Ramp Peak in the background.
Back along Mosquito Creek with Ramp Peak in the background.
Hiking on the main trail along Mosquito Creek - the end of another great adventure!
Hiking on the main trail along Mosquito Creek - the end of another great adventure!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.