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Lost Guide Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 3002
Trip Date
: Saturday, May 22 2021
Round Trip Time (hr): 6.5 from the Clearwater Trail
Elevation Gain (m): 1600 from the Clearwater Trail
Reference Trip: A Journey up the Clearwater River
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall you sprain something.
Difficulty Notes: A remote but fairly straightforward hike and scramble.
Technical Rating: SC5; RE5
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps


After a long, difficult 31km bike ride up the Clearwater Trail, followed by a 2km hike, Phil Richards and I were more than ready to ditch the overnight packs and start up our planned route on Lost Guide Peak. We had no idea if our route would work or not and had zero beta on this remote peak that sits almost a vertical mile over the Clearwater River valley below. These are the types of peaks that hold our interest and there really is only one way to see if our plans would work – one foot in front of the other until we either made the summit or were turned back!

Lost Guide & Sentry Peak Route Map. 100 km of travel along some mighty fine landscapes. I labelled all the “LG” peaks from Bivouac just for fun – they are mostly easy hiking and would make a nice traverse.

Our planned route was pretty straightforward as far as these things go. A south drainage led obviously up to a much narrower channel running NE to a large south bowl. This bowl looked to lead quite easily to a west ridge at the summit. We had some doubts about the marked summit being the highest – there is a north summit and some very distinctive SE towers that look very similar in height on photos from afar. Again – there’s only one way to find these things out and that’s to stand on top and see what’s what.

We started up the drainage on loose boulders and rocks with no water flowing down it. Within a few hundred meters there was running water and a few hundred meters further and there was a proper stream. At least we wouldn’t have to worry about water on this trip. The sky was wild with huge mare’s tails and a deep blue color. The stream was crystal clear, reflecting the sky above. The terrain was pretty straightforward other than some slabs that we had to cross to avoid steep, unconsolidated terrain to the west. The route reminded me of Claw Creek up the Malamute valley in the Ghost Wilderness. After about an hour we closed in on the part of our route that we were crossing our fingers over. We had to get over to the large south bowl under the summit and the only way to do this was via a hidden gully which was not visible on photos or easily scouted on satellite images. In a highlight moment for the year we turned a corner in the creek and started up a wonderful little gully route that was made even easier by lingering snow. These are the moments that make a scrambler’s career – finding sneaky little routes that are much easier and more straightforward than they should be! 

We were pretty pumped as we made our way over to the south bowl. We needlessly detoured out of the channel on climber’s right before traversing scree slopes into the lower south bowl.

The hidden channel at left as we work our way to the south bowl under the summit at mid right. The summit at upper right. We stayed right in the bottom of the drainage on exit which worked fine. The main ascent drainage visible at distant left.

The summit was still many hundreds of meters above us as we slowly started up remnant snow patches. As usual, an upper col was our first target and looked pretty close. As we kicked steps up and up and up the col seemed to retreat – taunting us with its delusion-of-ease. We kicked steps under a natural sphinx feature before running out of snow in our gully and slowly trending left up to the col.

As the col finally came to meet us and some of the outliers slowly lowered themselves, our views got better and better. Unfortunately for us, our legs were getting tired after the days efforts but in another fortuitous turn of events the sky went from cloudy (nice for the ascent) to clearing (great for views). As I kicked steps up the west ridge the summit I was delighted to see the stunning views back down the ridge and over the north bowl of the peak down to a still-frozen Lost Guide Lake far below.

The west summit ridge of Lost Guide Peak is a wild place! This view is looking north over “North Guide”. Lost Guide Lake still mostly frozen over at bottom right. Whelk Peak at center left.

Thankfully, as we ascended higher and higher the SE towers dipped below us, as did the north summit. We were indeed going to make the true summit! Finally at 17:30 we took the last few steps to a very old cairn on the top of Lost Guide Peak. Despite being later in the day at this point we took some time at the top of the peak, taking photos of distant giants and obscure peaks in every direction. Prominent peaks included Whelk, Forbidden, Cheshire, Wampum and Peters. Distant peaks included everything from Stewart to Cline to Willingdon, Cataract, Hector and many many other familiar friends.

Summit view looking north and west includes (R to L), Whelk Peak, Stewart, Resolute, Cline, Dodo, Cheshire. The summit of Wampum Peak at foreground left.
Stunning views east (R) and north (L) include Lost Guide Lake at lower mid left and Whelk at distant left. Distant right includes Scalp Peak and many of the Ya Ha Tinda peaks. Various unnamed foothills at center. North Guide at left and the towers at right.
Summit views west and south include (R to L), Howl, McConnell, Bellow, Boar Station, Chirp, Condor, Tyrell and at far distant left Flints and Cuthead Peak.
Views west up the Clearwater River include Trident Lake, Clearwater Lake and the still frozen Martin Lake at mid center photo. Peaks include (R to L), Augusta, Malloch, Kentigern, Harris, Willingdon, Crown, South Tower, Balfour, Deluc, Dip Slope and even Mount Hector at distant left. Indian Lookout at foreground right with Snarl and Whimper at mid center left.
Views west include remote giants such as (R to L), Caterpillar, Perren, Nordic Ridge, Kahl, Simpson, Mamen, Icefall, Heustis, Recondite, Augusta. Malloch Peak sneaks into view at left.

We still had some distance to cover before camp and after 30 to 40 minutes at the lofty summit it was time to descend. We searched the old cairn vigorously and were disappointed to find absolutely no evidence of a register. We knew the cairn was old both due to the way it was built and from lichen on the rocks. I have no way of knowing how many other ascents this prominent peak has had over the years but it can’t be that many. No matter – it was worth it for me to stand up there with those views! Our descent down snow slopes was quick to the lower gully.

We stayed in the hidden gully this time, rather than traverse above it and this worked well. Once in the south drainage the going got easier again. I stuck in the forest on the east side as much as possible to make things a bit quicker but the main gully was pretty manageable too.

Soon enough we were back at our overnight packs and preparing for the rest of our day. Lost Guide Peak feels like a special peak to me. To be honest, most of my ascents are special for their own reasons but this particular peak feel much like some other locals that I’ve done such as Condor, Bellow, Howl and Tomahawk.

Lost Guide Peak
Starting up the south drainage of Lost Guide Peak.
Starting up the south drainage of Lost Guide Peak.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
There is some light bushwhacking in the south drainage.
There is some light bushwhacking in the south drainage.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
The south drainage of Lost Guide is fun, engaging and scenic.
Views back down the drainage.
Views back down the drainage.
Approaching the upper south drainage where our route deviates east (R).
Approaching the upper south drainage where our route deviates east (R).
The next 30 minutes will determine success or failure on this peak as we enter the hidden gully.
The next 30 minutes will determine success or failure on this peak as we enter the hidden gully.
The hidden gully looks good so far!
The hidden gully looks good so far!
Supportive snow assisted us in the hidden gully. There was running water underneath.
Supportive snow assisted us in the hidden gully. There was running water underneath.
The hidden gully looks good so far!
The hidden gully looks good so far!
Wild views back down the hidden gully.
Wild views back down the hidden gully.
The route continues to work out.
The route continues to work out.
The route continues to work out.
The route continues to work out.
Wild views back down the hidden gully.
Wild views back down the hidden gully.
The route continues to work out despite narrowing considerably.
The route continues to work out despite narrowing considerably.
A bird's nest - well protected against a huge cliff wall.
A bird's nest - well protected against a huge cliff wall.
Wild views back down the hidden gully.
Wild views back down the hidden gully.
We deviated out of the gully on climber's right but didn't have to. Lost Guide towering above.
We deviated out of the gully on climber's right but didn't have to. Lost Guide towering above.
Our route enters from lower left and ascends mid photo to upper right.
Our route enters from lower left and ascends mid photo to upper right.
Ascending into the south bowl.
Ascending into the south bowl.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
A sphinx watches over our route.
A sphinx watches over our route.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
Using snow to our advantage up the huge south gully.
As we ascend higher and higher our views back over the Clearwater to Condor and Peters.
As we ascend higher and higher our views back over the Clearwater to Condor and Peters.
Views to "North Guide Peak" and down the NE bowl towards Lost Lake.
Views to "North Guide Peak" and down the NE bowl towards Lost Lake.
Whelk Peak.
Whelk Peak.
Lost Guide Lake is still mostly frozen over.
Lost Guide Lake is still mostly frozen over.
Phil on the west summit ridge with incredible views to North Guide and Whelk Peak.
Phil on the west summit ridge with incredible views to North Guide and Whelk Peak.
Views east include North Guide (L) and the south towers (R).
Views east include North Guide (L) and the south towers (R).
Limestone Peak (Lookout).
Limestone Peak (Lookout).
Whelk Peak at left. Canary to its right.
Whelk Peak at left. Canary to its right.
Cheshire (L), Dormouse, Dodo, Cline, Resolute, Stewart and Whelk Peak (R).
Cheshire (L), Dormouse, Dodo, Cline, Resolute, Stewart and Whelk Peak (R).
Distant views south include Gable (L) and Condor (C). Flints, Cuthead, Bonnet, Cataract (R).
Distant views south include Gable (L) and Condor (C). Flints, Cuthead, Bonnet, Cataract (R).
McConnell (L) and Bellow Peak (R).
McConnell (L) and Bellow Peak (R).
Bellow (L), Howl and Cataract Peak (R).
Bellow (L), Howl and Cataract Peak (R).
Smoky (L), Little Cataract and Mount Hector (R).
Smoky (L), Little Cataract and Mount Hector (R).
Hector, Dip Slope and Deluc Mountain (R).
Hector, Dip Slope and Deluc Mountain (R).
Views to the upper Clearwater valley include Trident, Martin and Clearwater Lake.
Views to the upper Clearwater valley include Trident, Martin and Clearwater Lake.
Views south from Tinda to Banff (R).
Views south from Tinda to Banff (R).
Flints and Cuthead at distant left. Prow in the fg right.
Flints and Cuthead at distant left. Prow in the fg right.
Prow Mountain with Bonnet and Hickson at distant center and right.
Prow Mountain with Bonnet and Hickson at distant center and right.
Distant views to St. Bride, Douglas and Boar Station.
Distant views to St. Bride, Douglas and Boar Station.
McConnel and Cataract over Bellow Peak.
McConnel and Cataract over Bellow Peak.
Caterpillar Peak in front of distant giants including Perren, Nordic Ridge, Kahl, Simpson.
Caterpillar Peak in front of distant giants including Perren, Nordic Ridge, Kahl, Simpson.
Views NE over Ranger Creek and the Ram River.
Views NE over Ranger Creek and the Ram River.
Vern likes color!
Vern likes color!
Descending the south bowl.
Descending the south bowl.
Descending the south bowl.
Descending the south bowl.
Views back up the channel.
Views back up the channel.
Beautiful scenery as we head back into the drainage.
Beautiful scenery as we head back into the drainage.
Tiny in the terrain.
Tiny in the terrain.
Back in the hidden channel leading to the south drainage.
Back in the hidden channel leading to the south drainage.
Condor Peak catches the afternoon sun as we descend the south drainage.
Condor Peak catches the afternoon sun as we descend the south drainage.

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