Whistler Mountain (Whistler Loop)

Summit Elevation (m): 2210
Trip Date: October 29, 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 1150
Round Trip Time (hr): 7.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 13
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: No major difficulties for seasoned off trail scramblers. An easy, but loose and steep scramble from the creek to the Whistler Loop ridge. Our descent route was fairly steep but there are other options. Note: We combined several peaks in a high level traverse from Table Top Peak to Whistler Mountain.
Technical Rating: OT4; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

As part of the “Whistler Loop“, Wietse and I first bagged two unofficial summits, both of which are higher than either of the two official summits they sit between! Table Top is located south of Table Mountain and the two Whistable Peaks are between Table Top and Whistler Mountain. Despite not having official names, we enjoyed the gorgeous views and sublime weather as we sat on top of each of them on our way towards the extremely underwhelming apex of Whistler Mountain. After reading the controversy on the exact location of the summit, I’m still not 100% sure which it is, but since we bagged every high point on the ridge, I know we stood on top of Whistler at some point!

We made quick time down from the second of the Whistable Peaks towards Whistler Mountain – at least until hitting some old, weathered trees along the ridge. The snow was thankfully supportive through the short section of trees and soon Wietse was proudly standing on what we assumed was probably the summit of Whistler Mountain – on a snow bank buried in the stunted trees. We also made sure to stand on the next high point that was slightly lower along the ridge, this is likely where Sonny claimed the summit but we didn’t see a register at either location.

The path to the lookout is well worn from sheep and people.
Interesting ridge and rock rib scenery.

Our views of Lys Ridge and further south towards Waterton and west towards the Divide were awesome as we started our descent to the Whistler Lookout site. The lookout was apparently built in 1966 and decommissioned the year I was born, in 1975 due to the nearby Carbondale Hill lookout and the extreme winds that usually blast this ridge (from Mike Potter’s book). At the lookout we enjoyed more great views and the warm weather before continuing down the ridge. Here’s where we had a few options. I had mapped out a route down to the ascent drainage to the east, that we had used on ascent, early in the day. This route would surely have worked, it was a reasonable angle and I knew that Dave had descended somewhere nearby. We descended some thick alders and stubborn, stunted trees before finally reaching the last high point along the ridge proper.

Wietse wanted to see what the nose of the ridge looked like, so we continued along the spine until an obvious cliff band blocked our straight line descent. Oh well. I thought we could probably sneak down very steep scree to our right (east). It looked gnarly from above, but once we got our noses into things, it became quite a bit more reasonable. This is the only section of the entire traverse that I thought probably snuck into “moderate” terrain. Since it’s avoidable by descending through bush earlier, the Whistler Loop should still only retain it’s “easy” scrambling rating IMHO. Once down the steep exit slopes we followed an ingenious sheep trail that deftly avoided more alders before plunging back into matchstick forest to the drainage and our approach track which we followed back to the car.

Wietse hikes to the end of the ridge where we are blocked by cliff bands. We will descend slopes just under where Wietse is, down to the right. Beaver Mines Lake in the background here.

I can highly recommend the Whistler Loop as an easy scramble and perfect day hike for the off season. You will find much more enjoyment on this outing if you can time it with light winds, but that’s true for any Castle or Waterton area peaks. This is a great way to bag three fairly easy summits and enjoy views that are only the norm in this special area of the Southern Canadian Rockies.

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