Summit Elevation (m): 3087
Trip Date: August 31, 2014
Elevation Gain (m): 1200
Round Trip Time (hr): 6
Trip Distance (km): 15
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: No difficulties if dry. No difficulties if wet. By far the hardest part of this mountain is getting up the first 200 vertical meters of it and driving to the trailhead.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
After a full day driving to and summiting Mount Harrison the Saturday previous, we slept in on Sunday before reluctantly rising and surveying the clouds that were now hanging over our little valley. Mount Folk hadn’t looked very difficult the afternoon before, as we trudged slowly past it on our way up Mount Harrison, so we weren’t too concerned about ascending it in the clouds or even rain if it came to that. Thunderstorms would be an issue, but we weren’t expecting any of that sort of fun activity, so we ate a leisurely breakfast before setting off up the same route we’d just completed less than 10 hours previous. Good times. Dang peakbaggers…
I have to admit that I wasn’t totally “feeling it” this particular morning. We’d just humped our way up piles of scree to the Harrison / Folk col and the Folk views wouldn’t be any better than Harrison’s, especially if the clouds stuck around. The climbing was nonexistent on Folk, so the ascent wouldn’t be that exciting either. Oh well. We drove a LONG bloody way to get here so I just told myself to enjoy the day and go grab another peak while I was at it.
There were no surprises for ascending Folk. Steven, Ben and I went all the way to the Harrison / Folk col while Eric took a very nice shortcut just over the cliffs on the way up on climber’s right and ended up far ahead of the rest of our party. We all chose slightly different routes on the final ascent slopes, I chose the west ridge to make things as interesting as possible with a nice drop down to the Thunder Creek Valley below. There were some nice views off of it but the ascent stayed mostly a hike. The summit views were better than expected as the weather held up nicely.
The descent was pretty quick, with some great views of Mount Harrison which was pretty much socked in with thick cloud cover. Our decision to take advantage of the previous evening’s weather window was looking pretty darn smart at this point. We’ve made it a habit out of doing this on subsequent 11,000ers such as Mount Joffre and even Mount Columbia. Get the summit while the going is good is a winning strategy but you need to be OK with some suffering since you’re approaching and climbing on the same day.
We got back to camp with plenty of daylight left and decided we might as well hump our gear part way up Smith to make the next day a bit easier and shorter, so down the mountain we went. For descent we followed the flagged trail on skier’s right of the creek and avoided about half the avy debris that we had encountered the day before, on ascent. When we got back to the truck we even changed the flagging at the parking lot to lead to the creek route instead of the crappy avy path route. Both routes still deal with extensive avy debris that could be cleared easily in half a day by a determined party with a couple of chainsaws.
Would I recommend Folk? In a nutshell, yes. If you’re in the area anyway I don’t see why you wouldn’t add another 10,000+ foot peak to your summit list. I would suggest, however, that instead of doing it as we did – on a separate day – I would simply do it after climbing Mount Harrison. It shouldn’t add more than an hour or two to your day and for the unique landscape and views of Harrison, I say it’s worth the minimal effort it demands.