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Bearskin Peak (Noseeum)

Summit Elevations (m): 2942, 3002
Trip Date: August 02 2022
Elevation Gain (m): 1250
Round Trip Time (hr): 7
Total Trip Distance (km): 13
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 3 – You fall you break something.
Difficulty Notes: Mostly easy scrambling and hiking to the summit of Bearskin Peak. The traverse to Noseeum Mountain was upper moderate on steep snow in a tight gully that would be much safer in crampons with an ax.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps


After a lengthy set of family vacations and over a month away from summer mountain adventures, I returned to Calgary on Monday August 1 with a wicked cold and a bruised left rib. Family vacations always seem to wreck me for some damn reason! I managed to bruise a rib on a paddleboard ffs. How does that even happen?! My cough was likely from spending a week in 39+ degree temps in Vernon, BC and sleeping with A/C every night. The best part about having the relentless cough was that every time I did it, it felt like someone was punching me in the ribs. I really picked two well-tuned ailments this time around. FML. I have to admit that visiting with family after 2 years of Covid nonsense was worth the pain and suffering these things inevitably involve for introverts like myself. I hate to admit it but mountains alone aren’t enough for me to have a fulfilling life and family fills a different kind of void than the mountains do.

Despite feeling like I got hit by a city bus I was determined to get out and test my fitness against some mountains in my remaining days off. I needed to start with something relatively short and easy so “Bearskin” got the nod. Back in 2011 I ascended Noseeum Mountain as a solo venture in mid-September. At the time Andrew Nugara had posted an excellent trip report that inspired me and many of my friends to follow his beta to this scenic area along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. The scenery from the summit of Noseeum was stunning despite mixed weather and I always resolved to return some day despite an aversion to repeating peaks. One day while perusing endless possibilities from David P. Jones, I came across an interesting summit dubbed, “Bearskin Peak”. This small outlier of Noseeum Mountain was first ascended in 1940 by Douglas Arbuckle, Ted Baker, Hugh Boucher, Don Campbell, Rex Gibson, Maurice Goodeve, Ken MacKenzie, and John Wheeler. Quite the group!

Bearskin & Noseeum Mountain Route Map

After driving the 6.5 hours from Vernon to Calgary the day before and feeling like garbage, it wasn’t the most awesome thing in the world to wake up at 06:00 on Tuesday morning and get back in the car. On the other hand I was driving off to my beloved Rockies on a gorgeous summer day after almost 5 weeks of no mountain activity. Put it this way – I was way more pumped than I had any right to be. I made the drive to the small pull-out along Hwy #93 at Noseeum Creek and started hiking up the creek. It was one of those typical summer mornings in the Rockies. Birds were chirping in the forest around me. The creek was bubbling cheerfully next to me. The vegetation was soaked from an overnight storm. There was a good trail all the way up Noseeum Creek and before long I was looking ahead to the lower headwall with its characteristic waterfalls. I remembered a moderate scramble up beside the largest falls on climber’s right and the trail I was on seemed to go directly towards it.

I wasn’t too concerned about difficulties as I made my way up the headwall. I ended up taking a slightly steeper route than necessary but it felt good to be back on rock again and I didn’t overthink it. Clouds were whipping overhead as I made my way along a pretty obvious trail across the creek and up a 2nd headwall before entering a gorgeous plateau below the lake.

Above the second headwall there is this lovely plateau. This is still below the lake. Andromache at left with its north glacier draining into Noseeum Creek. Bow Peak at distant center.

Mount Andromache and the Molar Glacier looked awesome from the plateau. I turned my attention to the 3rd and smallest headwall and made short work of it before finding myself at the south end of the always scenic and lovely Noseeum Lake.

Noseeum Lake under its namesake peak at center, Bearskin Peak to the right.

The lake alone is worth a visit if you’re not interested in peakbagging. The water is a deep shade of green and the views are stunning – especially towards the Molar Glacier and Mount Andromache and back over the Icefields Parkway to Bow Peak. I am never content without a summit for some reason, so I kept hoofing it around the south shores of the lake towards easy looking south slopes of Bearskin Peak. As expected, I encountered no difficulties as I slowly ambled up scree and rubble with views only becoming better the higher I went.

Incredible views back over Noseeum Lake.

Coughs and ribs were forgotten as I made my way up summit slopes while the sky continued to clear giving me the views I was more than ready for. Only 2.5 hours from the highway I was on my first summit of the day. Many familiar peaks and surrounding valleys greeted me, looking green and lush without their winter coats. It felt like summer 2022 had finally arrived.

Wild views over South Molar Pass (R) to Cataract Peak (L) and Molar Mountain (R).
Views over the lush Molar Meadows include (L to R), Noseeum, Puzzle, Bobac, Watermelon, Loudon, Kentigern, Quartzite, Clearwater, Ramp, Mosquito, Willingdon, Crown, South Tower, Dip Slope, Deluc, Molarstone, Cataract, Minnow, Fang, Forgotten and Molar Mountain (R).
Wild views over South Molar Pass (L) include Molar, Pika, Hector, Andromache, Daly, Hector Lake, Noseeum Lake, Preacher, Balfour and Bow Peak.

After taking a few minutes to enjoy the wonderful views and remember many previous trips up so many countless other peaks near and far, I had a decision to make. Part of me was plenty happy just returning to the lake and taking a nap along its quiet shores. Another part of me wanted to try the traverse to Noseeum Mountain, which despite the topo map was looking quite a bit higher than Bearskin Peak. Guess which part of me won? 😉 I sighed deeply, took one last lingering look at the lake and started the traverse towards the SE end of Noseeum.

Traversing to the SE end of Noseeum (R) which cannot easily be ascended directly. Instead I traversed left onto the SW face before ascending a steep, narrow snow gully.

I knew right off the bat that ascending the SE ridge directly was going to be more than scrambling. (This route is rated PD+ 5.4 and clearly out of my league as a free solo.) Instead, my plan was to traverse onto the SW face of Noseeum before hopefully finding a break in the line of cliffs running along it. If not, I knew I could pick my way down to the lake from the traverse. It’s not like I hadn’t already bagged the peak 11 years ago anyway!

Views back to Bearskin Peak (L) from the traverse.

As I traversed the cliffs on the SW face I crossed under a steep snow-filled gully that looked promising for some reason. Now I know that after a 5 week break from anything mountains I was a bit rusty with routefinding and scrambling senses, but for some reason I really felt like this gully was the way to go. Without ax or crampons. In scrambling shoes. Ah well, life is short and I was feelin’ it so I started up the barely softening snow. As always the gully was massively foreshortened and much more difficult and exposed than it looked from below. But I stubbornly pushed higher and higher, my approach shoes just barely getting the job done.

Finally I could see the snow running out above me. The gully kept getting steeper and steeper and there was no way out but up at this point, so I clambered on, silently questioning my life choices but also enjoying them. After some last desperate lunges and stem moves on a mix of snow, ice and rock I found myself escaping the gully. On hindsight I know that this is the route that Eaton and Georgia Cromwell took in 1950 rated “PD 4th”. Who knew? From the top of the gully I ascended loose rubble to the summit of Noseeum and even more stunning views.

Summit views over the Molar Meadows and North Molar Pass include (L to R), Willingdon, Deluc, Cataract, Minnow, Molar, Bearskin, Ptarmigan, Hector, Andromache and Daly.
Views over Mosquito Creek to Bow Lake (L), Dolomite, Puzzle (OXO), Bobac, Watermelon, Kentigern, Clearwater, Ramp, Willingdon and Mosquito.

The summit register on Noseeum indicated a great many folks have made this lofty peak a priority since my ascent over a decade previous. This is a good decision on their part! It’s hard to beat the views for the effort on this mountain, situated as it is in the heart of the Rockies with views of some of Banff’s largest peaks and greenest valleys. I greatly enjoyed my second ascent of this peak. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have to try the 5.4 route some day too. 

Descending the SW ridge to the SE access ramp (R). The summit of Noseeum at left with Bearskin and Andromache to the right.

The descent of the SE ramp back to Noseeum Lake was quick and simple, especially compared to the manky SW gully I ascended! I met two hikers on their way up who asked me where the summit was. “Which one?”, was my helpful response. They looked confused so I assumed they meant Noseeum and pointed the way. I can be helpful like that sometimes.

From the bottom of the SE ramp I ambled to the lakeshore and enjoyed the stillness of the day for yet another break. This day was turning out to be exactly what I needed – it feels great when a plan comes together.

Back at Noseeum Lake. Bearskin at left.

Descent through the various headwalls and plateaus to the lower waterfall went smoothly along the established trail. I met another couple of hikers coming up the 2nd headwall who were planning to spend some time at the lake. After a brief chat I kept descending. Getting off the lower headwall was more interesting than it had to be but I managed. There are many trails and routes here so make sure you find one that suits your abilities before committing to it.

As I walked back out of the Noseeum Creek valley I meditated, not for the first time, how darn lucky I am to experience days like this in times like these. So many people struggle every day just to survive and here’s me, spending time alone in the Canadian wilderness with not a care in the world. I only hope that others can also put down their busy and stressful lives and make an effort to find peace in a way that works for them and their loved ones. Otherwise, why are we here and what is the point of any of it? Indeed.

Bearskin Peak (+ Noseeum)
Hiking up Noseeum Creek.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Hiking up Noseeum Creek to the lower headwall.
Scrambling up the lower headwall.
Scrambling up the lower headwall.
Scrambling up the lower headwall, views back to Bow Peak.
Scrambling up the lower headwall, views back to Bow Peak.
Scrambling up the lower headwall.
Scrambling up the lower headwall.
Scrambling up the lower headwall past a waterfall.
Scrambling up the lower headwall past a waterfall.
Hiking the treed plateau above the first headwall.
Hiking the treed plateau above the first headwall.
Passing under another waterfall.
Passing under another waterfall.
Hiking the treed plateau above the first headwall.
Hiking the treed plateau above the first headwall.
Hiking the treed plateau above the first headwall.
Hiking the treed plateau above the first headwall.
On another plateau under the lake, views to Andromache at left.
On another plateau under the lake, views to Andromache at left.
Breaking a final headwall to the lake.
Breaking a final headwall to the lake.
Noseeum Lake with Noseeum Mountain at center and Bearskin to the right.
Noseeum Lake with Noseeum Mountain at center and Bearskin to the right.
Noseeum Lake with Noseeum Mountain at center and Bearskin to the right.
Noseeum Lake with Noseeum Mountain at center and Bearskin to the right.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Views back over Noseeum Lake to Andromache at left.
Views back over Noseeum Lake to Andromache at left.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Views back over Noseeum Lake to Andromache at left.
Views back over Noseeum Lake to Andromache at left.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Hiking up the south slopes of Bearskin Peak.
Cataract Peak at left and Molar Mountain at right.
Cataract Peak at left and Molar Mountain at right.
Molar Mountain over South Molar Pass.
Molar Mountain over South Molar Pass.
Wild views over the Molar Meadows to Willingdon, Cataract, Molar, Hector, Andromache, Daly, Balfour.
Wild views over the Molar Meadows to Willingdon, Cataract, Molar, Hector, Andromache, Daly, Balfour.
Molar, Ptarmigan, Hector, Andromache, Daly and Balfour with Noseeum and Hector Lake.
Molar, Ptarmigan, Hector, Andromache, Daly and Balfour with Noseeum and Hector Lake.
Cataract Peak.
Cataract Peak.
Noseeum (L), OXO, Bobac, Watermelon, Kentigern, Clearwater, Quartzite, Ramp, Willingdon (R).
Noseeum (L), OXO, Bobac, Watermelon, Kentigern, Clearwater, Quartzite, Ramp, Willingdon (R).
OXO (Puzzle) Peak.
OXO (Puzzle) Peak.
Bobac and Watermelon Peak.
Bobac and Watermelon Peak.
The gorgeous Molar Meadows and Molar Pass area.
The gorgeous Molar Meadows and Molar Pass area.
Kentigern Mountain.
Kentigern Mountain.
Meadows and tarns.
Meadows and tarns.
Meadows and tarns.
Meadows and tarns.
Mount Loudon.
Mount Loudon.
Forgotten Peak over Minnow Peak.
Forgotten Peak over Minnow Peak.
Mount Daly over Hector Lake.
Mount Daly over Hector Lake.
Traversing towards the SE end of Noseeum Mountain.
Traversing towards the SE end of Noseeum Mountain.
Views back up Bearskin Peak.
Views back up Bearskin Peak.
Traversing towards the SE end of Noseeum Mountain.
Traversing towards the SE end of Noseeum Mountain.
Bearskin, Hector, Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Bearskin, Hector, Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Views down a manky south gully that I used to attain the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
Views down a manky south gully that I used to attain the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
Views down a manky south gully that I used to attain the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
Views down a manky south gully that I used to attain the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
Looking out from the steep gully.
Looking out from the steep gully.
Views down a manky south gully that I used to attain the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
Views down a manky south gully that I used to attain the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
View back down to the top of the steep south gully.
View back down to the top of the steep south gully.
Some loose terrain above the south gully the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
Some loose terrain above the south gully the summit of Noseeum Mountain.
View back over the steep south gully that I climbed.
View back over the steep south gully that I climbed.
Views over Molar Meadows to Willingdon (L), Cataract, Bearskin, Molar, Hector and Andromache.
Views over Molar Meadows to Willingdon (L), Cataract, Bearskin, Molar, Hector and Andromache.
An entry from me, 11 years ago!
An entry from me, 11 years ago!
Deluc (Three Brothers), Little Cataract and Cataract Peak. The Fang at fg.
Deluc (Three Brothers), Little Cataract and Cataract Peak. The Fang at fg.
Mount Hector and Little Hector over Mount Andromache.
Mount Hector and Little Hector over Mount Andromache.
OXO, Watermelon, Quartzite, Ramp and Mosquito over the Molar Meadows.
OXO, Watermelon, Quartzite, Ramp and Mosquito over the Molar Meadows.
Views over North Molar Pass.
Views over North Molar Pass.
Views north include Dolomite, Puzzle (OXO), Bobac and Watermelon Peak.
Views north include Dolomite, Puzzle (OXO), Bobac and Watermelon Peak.
North Molar Pass and The Fang in front of Cataract Peak.
North Molar Pass and The Fang in front of Cataract Peak.
The Goodsirs (L), Cathedral, Stephen, Daly and Balfour over Hector lake.
The Goodsirs (L), Cathedral, Stephen, Daly and Balfour over Hector lake.
Portal and Thompson over Bow Lake.
Portal and Thompson over Bow Lake.
Quartzite, Ramp and Mosquito in front of Clearwater and Willingdon.
Quartzite, Ramp and Mosquito in front of Clearwater and Willingdon.
Views over Quartzite Pass from the west ridge of Noseeum Mountain.
Views over Quartzite Pass from the west ridge of Noseeum Mountain.
Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
View back up Noseeum Mountain.
View back up Noseeum Mountain.
Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Bearskin, Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Bearskin, Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Noseeum Lake.
Noseeum Lake.
Descending the SW ridge of Noseeum Mountain.
Descending the SW ridge of Noseeum Mountain.
Descending the SW ridge of Noseeum Mountain.
Descending the SW ridge of Noseeum Mountain.
Descending the SE access ramp to Noseeum Lake.
Descending the SE access ramp to Noseeum Lake.
Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Mount Hector and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Views from the SE ramp to Bearskin and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
Views from the SE ramp to Bearskin and Andromache over Noseeum Lake.
View of the steep gully (snow) that I used to access Noseeum at left.
View of the steep gully (snow) that I used to access Noseeum at left.
Mount Andromache.
Mount Andromache.
Mount Andromache.
Mount Andromache.
A multi-colored Columbine flower.
A multi-colored Columbine flower.
Descending the lower headwall to Noseeum Creek.
Descending the lower headwall to Noseeum Creek.
Noseeum Falls.
Noseeum Falls.
Noseeum Falls.
Noseeum Falls.
Moderate scrambling step off the lower headwall.
Moderate scrambling step off the lower headwall.
Hiking down Noseeum Creek.
Hiking down Noseeum Creek.

3 thoughts on Bearskin Peak (Noseeum)

  1. Great trip report! I was waiting to see when you’d post it—I saw your name in the register when I was up there Saturday afternoon. (Funny enough, nobody seems to know there’s a register—at least 10 people summitted before me Saturday, but there were no entries after yours until I put my name down). You’re right, this is a special spot!

  2. Great report. I’m going to do it. But just Noseeum Mt. Will be enough for me. Great pictures. Thank you for perfect trip reports. 🙂

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