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Spreading Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 3072
Trip Date: July 27 2017
Elevation Gain (m): 1700
Round Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 14
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your thumb
Difficulty Notes: Easy / moderate scrambling when dry via a scree gully on the NE end of South Totem Peak.. Note: We combined this peak with Spreading Peak.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (3rd)
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From the summit of South Totem Peak, Spreading Peak looked pretty darn sweet. I remembered looking up at Spreading Peak from our long traverse towards Marmota Peak in 2015 and thinking the same thing. A beautiful line of snow highlights the ridge to the summit cap and it looked pretty easy to boot. The issue – as with any peaks in this part of the Siffleur Wilderness – is access. There is no quick or easy way to access the gorgeous summits in this area. Or is there? As with Bison Peak to the north, South Totem and Spreading are surprisingly easy to access from Hwy 93 and as Phil Richards and I were quickly discovering, not even a long day is required to ascend them. Only around 4 hours after leaving the highway, we found ourselves descending a well-placed and remarkably easy scree gully down the south face of South Totem towards the Spreading Peak col. The gully led to a delightfully soft and fast scree slope which resulted in wide smiles and huge leaps and bounds all the way down to the col.

South Totem & Spreading Peak Route Map
Phil on the easy descent of South Totem’s south face – Spreading Peak at right and Marmota at center distance.

We were encouraged and energized by the easy, fun escape from South Totem and this translated to an energy boost up the easy NW ridge of Spreading Peak. The most remarkable thing about the ascent was the intimidating view back towards the south face of South Totem which looked much harder than we’d experienced only a few minutes earlier. It was easy to see how the descent could be complicated without traversing the true summit to its far eastern end like we had. Sometimes the mountains bear rewards for persistence, I suppose. 

Impressive views of South Totem’s south face from near the col with Totem Tower at right.

The views from Spreading Peak were obviously very similar to the ones from South Totem, although the changing weather and different perspective was interesting enough to validate the add-on summit. After spending another 15-20 minutes at the top of our second peak of the day, we turned our attention on the descent.

The north face of Mount Noyes belies it’s relatively easy scramble route from the west.
South Totem and many of Murchison’s towers at far left, Corona Ridge at left of center and Marmota right of center.
From just off the summit to the south looking east (L) and south (R).

For descent we had options to consider. Part of us wanted to explore the gorgeous hanging valley between some of Spreading Peak’s outliers and the two summits we’d just scrambled, but part of us was a bit apprehensive about the bushwhack this might lead to. In the end we decided that since there was no hugely compelling reason to descend into the hanging valley (i.e. no tarns or waterfalls), we would instead descend an obvious orange-colored scree slope to a lower bench on South Totem before following that bench back to our ascent line and then back to Totem Creek and our exit trail. This idea worked beautifully. The side-hill traversing got old, as always, but was fairly short-lived.

Re-crossing the drainage that leads to Totem Creek.

The exit from treeline was quick and easy. I really enjoyed this trip. We had great conditions and got lucky with several route choices. We managed to round trip over 1700 vertical meters and 14 km in less than 8 hours too! This should be considered fairly quick – I would think 9 to 10 hours would be more of an average for most people to enjoy this great outing.

Spreading Peak
Looking down the amazingly simple and easy gully to the Spreading Peak col and up the aesthetic ridge to the summit of our next objective.
Looking down the amazingly simple and easy gully to the Spreading Peak col and up the aesthetic ridge to the summit of our next objective.
Tarns on the flats between Marmota and Spreading / South Totem.
Tarns on the flats between Marmota and Spreading / South Totem.
Phil on the easy descent of South Totem's south face - Spreading Peak at right and Marmota at center distance.
Phil on the easy descent of South Totem's south face - Spreading Peak at right and Marmota at center distance.
Exiting the gully and ready for a delightful scree run the rest of the way down to the col.
Exiting the gully and ready for a delightful scree run the rest of the way down to the col.
A gorgeous and very easy looking Spreading Peak awaits.
A gorgeous and very easy looking Spreading Peak awaits.
Impressive views of South Totem's south face from near the col with Totem Tower at right.
Impressive views of South Totem's south face from near the col with Totem Tower at right.
Looking up at Spreading Peak.
Looking up at Spreading Peak.
Looking back again - this time Corona Ridge sneaks into the shot at far right.
Looking back again - this time Corona Ridge sneaks into the shot at far right.
South Totem and many of Murchison's towers at far left, Corona Ridge at left of center and Marmota right of center.
South Totem and many of Murchison's towers at far left, Corona Ridge at left of center and Marmota right of center.
The north face of Mount Noyes belies the relatively easy scramble route from the west.
The north face of Mount Noyes belies the relatively easy scramble route from the west.
Very impressive mountain views towards Quill Peak (C).
Very impressive mountain views towards Quill Peak (C).
Views towards distant giants include (L to R), Abstruse, Osgood, Recondite, Augusta and Quill Peak.
Views towards distant giants include (L to R), Abstruse, Osgood, Recondite, Augusta and Quill Peak.
Corona Ridge.
Corona Ridge.
Views towards Breaker, Ebon and Aries (L) with Aiguille, Mummery and Howse at right.
Views towards Breaker, Ebon and Aries (L) with Aiguille, Mummery and Howse at right.
Howse and Chephren (R) loom over Chephren Lake.
Howse and Chephren (R) loom over Chephren Lake.
To the NW lie Sarbach, The Lyells, Erasmus and Bison Peak (L to R).
To the NW lie Sarbach, The Lyells, Erasmus and Bison Peak (L to R).
Noyes (L) to Bison (R) includes lakes from Peyto (L) to Mistaya, Cirque, Chephren and Epaulette (R).
Noyes (L) to Bison (R) includes lakes from Peyto (L) to Mistaya, Cirque, Chephren and Epaulette (R).
South Totem's notch is easy to spot - complete with the snow arete that never seems to completely melt from the base of it.
South Totem's notch is easy to spot - complete with the snow arete that never seems to completely melt from the base of it.
Stairway and Aries rise above Cirque Lake with Breaker just showing up beyond them at left.
Stairway and Aries rise above Cirque Lake with Breaker just showing up beyond them at left.
Detailed landscapes in the gorgeous alpine cirque east of Mount Noyes.
Detailed landscapes in the gorgeous alpine cirque east of Mount Noyes.
Marmota Peak is obscure enough to see very few ascents.
Marmota Peak is obscure enough to see very few ascents.
Another view into the sublime cirque to the east of Mount Noyes. Mount Hector in the far distance right of center.
Another view into the sublime cirque to the east of Mount Noyes. Mount Hector in the far distance right of center.
From just off the summit to the south looking east (L) and south (R).
From just off the summit to the south looking east (L) and south (R).
Corona Ridge (L) and the Spreading Creek Valley - which gets most of its water from Spreading Peak's north glacier.
Corona Ridge (L) and the Spreading Creek Valley - which gets most of its water from Spreading Peak's north glacier.
Descending Spreading.
Descending Spreading.
Totem Tower is impressive.
Totem Tower is impressive.
Phil descends the scree slope between Spreading and South Totem.
Phil descends the scree slope between Spreading and South Totem.
It was easy for the most part with some slab thrown in for fun.
It was easy for the most part with some slab thrown in for fun.
Interesting rock buttresses emerge from the lower broken cliff bands on South Totem.
Interesting rock buttresses emerge from the lower broken cliff bands on South Totem.
Traversing under the lower cliffs.
Traversing under the lower cliffs.
Back on our ascent line, heading down to treeline.
Back on our ascent line, heading down to treeline.
Re-crossing the drainage that leads to Totem Creek.
Re-crossing the drainage that leads to Totem Creek.
This is how Phil's crossing of the stream went... :)
This is how Phil's crossing of the stream went... 🙂
Descending a lush carpet of moss to Totem Creek.
Descending a lush carpet of moss to Totem Creek.
Phil doesn't even bother changing his footwear for the Totem Creek crossing. Likely because he's already dunked one of his feet.
Phil doesn't even bother changing his footwear for the Totem Creek crossing. Likely because he's already dunked one of his feet.
A quick, warm exit via the Totem Creek Trail.
A quick, warm exit via the Totem Creek Trail.

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