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Sunburst Peak (Goat’s Tower)

Summit Elevation (m): 2830
Trip Date: September 24, 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 620
Round Trip Time (hr): 3.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 4.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break bones
Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling, especially in the conditions I had (snow and some ice). Considering some of the routefinding and exposure, I would not rate this as “easy”.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Download
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Ever since scrambling Nub PeakWonder PeakOg Mountain and Cave Mountain back in 2008, I’ve wanted to go back to the Mount Assiniboine area and bag a few other scrambles. It took way longer than expected, but finally in 2016 I managed to get another trip into the area. After a long and tiring approach the day before via Sunshine Meadows and a morning ascent of the lowly Chucks Ridge, I was ready for Sunburst Peak in the afternoon.

Sunburst Peak has always interested me since first laying eyes on it in 2008, simply because it doesn’t look nearly as easy as its reputation implies. There isn’t a ton of trip reports available, but whatever is out there certainly doesn’t make this objective sound very difficult – despite the appearance of impenetrable cliffs leading up to it’s summit.

Sunburst Peak Route Map – Details

Thankfully, Sunburst Peak is located right near the Lake Magog Campground, so I only had to walk about 500m to the SW before heading up to its lower treed and rubble slopes. It’s impossible to describe the exact route I took on ascent because I stumbled around a bit before finding the boulder field, but on descent I found one that was a bit less of a bushwhack. If you walk about 200m past the sign warning non-climbers about routes to the Hind Hut you should see a narrow drainage or slight opening in the treed slope up on your right (to the NW). A short stint in the bush should have you on or near a boulder field which can be followed up to the NW until topping out on a wide bench to the east of the upper bowl beneath the cliff bands.

Some of the nicest views of my trip, looking over Lake Magog towards Naiset Point, Terrapin, Magog and Assiniboine (L to R).

Once I was on the upper bench above the boulder field, I started following a faint trail into the upper bowl beneath the summit cliffs. At first I ascended steeply up a shallow ridge but soon noticed a break in the cliff band far to my left and wandered across the slopes to this break. Scrambling up the break was easy and I followed an obvious grassy ledge under the cliff bands, back towards the north until the slopes above me looked reasonable to ascend. It was here that I first noticed a magnificent white Mountain Goat high above me in the cliffs. I guess there’s a reason for the alternate name of this peak. When I started up the next series of small ledges and steep terrain below the narrow upper gully that I also realized I shouldn’t have left my helmet at the campground.

The route is well marked where it needs to be – note the cairn.

As I scrambled up the slopes I heard a low buzzing sound rip past my head! I knew that sound. I’ve heard it before and it’s never a good thing. It turns out that thanks to the snowfall the week previous and the warm temperatures the day I was scrambling, icicles high up on the southeast cliffs above me were breaking off and hurtling down the mountain, directly down the fall line that I was climbing up! By the time I realized what was happening it was just as quick to get out of the way than retreat, so I did that. My heart rate was pretty high as I started up a rocky, icy, snowy gully towards the summit ridge. After the steep, narrow gully there was another series of snow ledges that were marked with cairns before I was finally on the bouldery summit plateau.

Beautiful views over Cautley Meadows to the Cautley Traverse including Cascade Rock, Gibraltar Rock, Mount Cautley, Ely’s Dome and Wonder Peak (L to R).

As expected for this ideally situated summit, the views in every direction were fantastic! I didn’t know it at the time, but they would be my best summit views of the trip thanks to yet another confused weather forecast. I enjoyed the views for almost an hour before heading back down my ascent route.

Incredible views over Cerulean Lake (L) and Sunburst Lake (R) towards Nub Peak and the Og Meadows.

Descent was quick, and thankfully most of the ice chunks were now melted off so I didn’t have to worry as much about getting bombarded by those projectiles while downclimbing. I found a slightly easier exit than my bushwhack approach and made my way back to the Lake Magog Campground and picnic “shelter”.

Wonderful panoramic views over Lake Magog, including the Cautley Traverse at left and Mount Assiniboine at right.

It was neat to chat with some other folks from all over the place at the shelter. I was surprised how many people were only staying in the area to take photographs of Mount Assiniboine, thanks especially to social media such as 500px and Instagram. Apparently the Assiniboine area has featured prominently around the world on these platforms and everyone is now determined to get their own share of likes and shares with one or two good shots of their own.

Sunburst Peak
49 photos
On ascent I went up this first, obvious valley / drainage but should have been more patient.
On ascent I went up this first, obvious valley / drainage but should have been more patient.
The boulder field is quite large but as long as it's dry, it's rather fun.
The boulder field is quite large but as long as it's dry, it's rather fun.
Incredible views over Lake Magog from near the upper bench above the boulder field.
Incredible views over Lake Magog from near the upper bench above the boulder field.
Mount Assiniboine.
Mount Assiniboine.
I ended up traversing left here, out of the photo to a break in the cliff bands, but there was a trail leading straight up here too.
I ended up traversing left here, out of the photo to a break in the cliff bands, but there was a trail leading straight up here too.
Great views towards Mount Cautley from the grassy ledge traverse under the cliffs on my left. My approach is on scree slopes below at center.
Great views towards Mount Cautley from the grassy ledge traverse under the cliffs on my left. My approach is on scree slopes below at center.
Despite appearances, the terrain up the cliffs is pretty mellow. Other than ice chunks trying to take me out!
Despite appearances, the terrain up the cliffs is pretty mellow. Other than ice chunks trying to take me out!
A snowy, surprisingly expansive summit plateau.
A snowy, surprisingly expansive summit plateau.
Looking over Cerulean Lake towards the other Sunburst Peaks, Mount Watson, Wedgwood Lake, Indian Peak, Moose Bath Pond, Ferro Pass, Nestor Peak, Simpson Ridge, Chucks Ridge,
Looking over Cerulean Lake towards the other Sunburst Peaks, Mount Watson, Wedgwood Lake, Indian Peak, Moose Bath Pond, Ferro Pass, Nestor Peak, Simpson Ridge, Chucks Ridge,
Wedgwood Lake sits under Mount Watson.
Wedgwood Lake sits under Mount Watson.
Looking over Wedgwood Lake towards Octopus Mountain over the Mitchell River.
Looking over Wedgwood Lake towards Octopus Mountain over the Mitchell River.
Looking over Nub Peak towards Golden Mountain.
Looking over Nub Peak towards Golden Mountain.
Nasswald Peak rises over Og Lake, which isn't visible here.
Nasswald Peak rises over Og Lake, which isn't visible here.
At the time I wasn't sure if it was named or not. Instead I traversed all of Og's lower summits to the fourth and highest one on the far right.
At the time I wasn't sure if it was named or not. Instead I traversed all of Og's lower summits to the fourth and highest one on the far right.
Nestor Peak doesn't sound very hard - Rick Collier did it on skies in the winter.
Nestor Peak doesn't sound very hard - Rick Collier did it on skies in the winter.
Indian Peak lies to the west of Sunburst and looms over Ferro Pass. Rick also skied it, but it sounds slightly more difficult than Nestor, especially in winter.
Indian Peak lies to the west of Sunburst and looms over Ferro Pass. Rick also skied it, but it sounds slightly more difficult than Nestor, especially in winter.
The strangely named Octopus Mountain with Split Peak in the distance to the left.
The strangely named Octopus Mountain with Split Peak in the distance to the left.
I think the foreground peak is probably Mount Sam, the one in the background just left of center is likely Mount Selkirk.
I think the foreground peak is probably Mount Sam, the one in the background just left of center is likely Mount Selkirk.
Looking over Ferro Pass towards the Ball Range.
Looking over Ferro Pass towards the Ball Range.
The mighty Mount Assiniboine. Her NE ridge looking very fierce!
The mighty Mount Assiniboine. Her NE ridge looking very fierce!
Cautley Meadows to the Cautley Traverse including Cascade Rock, Gibraltar Rock, Mount Cautley, Ely's Dome and Wonder Peak (L to R).
Cautley Meadows to the Cautley Traverse including Cascade Rock, Gibraltar Rock, Mount Cautley, Ely's Dome and Wonder Peak (L to R).
Looking over Windy Point Ridge to Nasswald Peak.
Looking over Windy Point Ridge to Nasswald Peak.
Lizzie Rummel's cabin sits comfortably on Sunburst Lake.
Lizzie Rummel's cabin sits comfortably on Sunburst Lake.
Sunburst Lake.
Sunburst Lake.
Assiniboine Lodge.
Assiniboine Lodge.
Brilliant colors of Cerulean Lake. Elizabeth Lake just visible at top.
Brilliant colors of Cerulean Lake. Elizabeth Lake just visible at top.
Brilliant colors of Cerulean Lake. Elizabeth Lake just visible at top.
Brilliant colors of Cerulean Lake. Elizabeth Lake just visible at top.
Elizabeth Lake.
Elizabeth Lake.
Incredible views over Cerulean Lake (L) and Sunburst Lake (R) towards Nub Peak and the Og Meadows.
Incredible views over Cerulean Lake (L) and Sunburst Lake (R) towards Nub Peak and the Og Meadows.
More views over Cerulean Lake with Moose Bath Pond and Wedgwood Lake to the left.
More views over Cerulean Lake with Moose Bath Pond and Wedgwood Lake to the left.
Wonderful panoramic views over Lake Magog, including the Cautley Traverse at left and Mount Assiniboine at right.
Wonderful panoramic views over Lake Magog, including the Cautley Traverse at left and Mount Assiniboine at right.
Views of Cerulean, Sunburst and Magog Lakes.
Views of Cerulean, Sunburst and Magog Lakes.
Looking towards Mount Assiniboine with Mount Magog to the left of it and Wedgwood and Sunburst Peaks to the right.
Looking towards Mount Assiniboine with Mount Magog to the left of it and Wedgwood and Sunburst Peaks to the right.
Fun scrambling up ledges just under the summit.
Fun scrambling up ledges just under the summit.
The route is well marked where it needs to be - note the cairn.
The route is well marked where it needs to be - note the cairn.
Note the icicles? This is the slope above the gully, leading to the summit boulder plateau.
Note the icicles? This is the slope above the gully, leading to the summit boulder plateau.
Looking back down the snow-filled gully.
Looking back down the snow-filled gully.
Nearing the bottom of the gully that leads to the upper summit area.
Nearing the bottom of the gully that leads to the upper summit area.
More great views on descent.
More great views on descent.
Looking back down a steeper section on ascent.
Looking back down a steeper section on ascent.
Easy scrambling on steep, blocky terrain but with ice chunks whizzing past my head.
Easy scrambling on steep, blocky terrain but with ice chunks whizzing past my head.
She is a majestic peak!
She is a majestic peak!
Once again, I found myself all alone once off the main tourist hotspots. I exited the boulder field to the trail at lower right.
Once again, I found myself all alone once off the main tourist hotspots. I exited the boulder field to the trail at lower right.
The Lake Magog picnic "shelter" with Sunburst Peak rising beyond. This was by far the nicest weather I got while staying in the area.
The Lake Magog picnic "shelter" with Sunburst Peak rising beyond. This was by far the nicest weather I got while staying in the area.

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