Jake Smith Peak (Rainy Traverse)

Summit Elevation (m): 2630
Trip Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Elevation Gain (m): 2200
Round Trip Time (hr): 12
Total Trip Distance (km): 33
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: The main difficulty for JSP is a bit of routefinding and downclimbing along the south ridge of Three Lakes Ridge down to the col. NOTE: This trip was part of a 4 peak traverse resulting in the distance and elevation gains indicated.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)

From the summit of Three Lakes Ridge we had a choice to make. Despite the gorgeous weather Phil and I were obviously enjoying, it was already past 14:00 hours and we were a long way from the parking lot. We could descend Three Lakes Ridge via west slopes before joining the track back up to Middle Kootenay Pass and decide from there whether or not Middle Kootenay Mountain was a “go”, or we could take advantage of the ridge we were already on and continue towards Jake Smith and Red Argillite peaks. Why was it even a choice? We knew we didn’t have time, or possibly the conditions (too snowy) to do Scarpe Mountain and it is best combined with JSP and RA rather than done on its own. In the end we obviously chose to continue with the ridge traverse we’d started, knowing that we’d have to come back some day for Scarpe. Thanks to my negative attitude that morning (!) we didn’t have photos of Nugara’s guidebook descriptions for RA or JSP from TLR. Oh well. It looked fairly straightforward, so off we went.

Looking down the Middlepass Creek drainage at center with Jake Smith Peak, Scarpe Mountain and the Red Argillite Peaks to the left. Krowicki, Miles, Tombstone, Middle Kootenay and Haig to the right.
Gorgeous views south over Rainy Lakes towards JSP. The peaks that we dubbed, “Red Argillite” are left of Phil in the distance.

The south ridge of TLR was a bit tricky in spots but nothing a little detour left (east) couldn’t overcome every once in a while and we continued to enjoy the warm and nearly windless conditions as we descended towards RA Peak. Of course, since we didn’t have Nugara’s guidebook with us, we didn’t know where “RA” Peak was exactly! We decided it couldn’t be the bump along the ridge proper as this was too easy. We settled on the slightly lower but further outlier to the west of what turned out to be Nugara’s “RA” and dubbed both of these peaks “Red Argillite Peaks“. We decided to tag them on return if we had the energy. Confused yet? So were we.  The ridge undulated a bit and by the time we were ready to ascend Jake Smith, I was feeling pretty bagged. Remember – I biked, hiked and scrambled 1800 vertical meters the day before on Coulthard and McLaren. Yeah I know. Excuses, excuses. I suck. 😉

The ethereal beauty of the smaller, south Rainy Lake is enhanced by the larches surrounding it.]
The route up Jake Smith looks (and is) pretty darn easy. Scarpe, unfortunately, isn’t quite as straightforward and the fresh snow won’t help.

From the RA/JSP col, the route was obvious – put one foot in front of the other to the summit. So that’s what we did. I told Phil I was feeling rather tired and would be dropping my pack at the col and heading up with minimal gear and he agreed to do the same. This also meant there’d be no last minute decision to go for Scarpe Peak, but on hindsight that was a great thing as we were running out of daylight anyway at this point – we just didn’t realize it yet. I ate a few granola bars to bump up my energy a bit and managed to follow Phil as he made the ascent look effortless ahead of me. Thankfully he also kicked steps in the small amount of fresh snow we had to deal with – providing further evidence that JSP is indeed the highest peak in this area despite what our maps indicated (they showed Scarpe as higher). The summit was a short walk to our left after gaining the ridge and soon we were enjoying views from our third summit of the day, all while glancing at our watches and performing calculations in our heads re: remaining distance vs. remaining daylight.

Phil walks to the summit with excellent views south over Mount Matkin, Coulotte, Scarpe and others.
Great views along the SW face of Jake Smith Peak towards Scarpe Mountain.
Unfamiliar, but fairly lofty, peaks to the south, likely many of them in Glacier National Park in the USA.

After enjoying the views from Jake Smith, it was time to descend back to our packs and decide whether or not we’d be bothering with the two “Red Argillite” peaks. The descent went quick, we started down the east ridge from the summit before cutting back on snow covered slopes to our ascent track and descending to the RA col and our packs. On hindsight it’s too bad we didn’t have time (or energy in my case) to tackle Scarpe Mountain as it was so close. It’s south slopes were also snow-free so I’m sort of regretting not giving it a shot now. Oh well. 20/20 vision when looking back.

Leave a comment

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