Summit Elevation (m): 2809
Trip Date: Saturday August 13, 2022
Elevation Gain (m): 1200
Round Trip Time (hr): 7
Total Trip Distance (km): 22
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break something or worse
Difficulty Notes: A wandering route up boulder fields, loose rubble, scree benches and cliffs. Two short but steep sections under the summit are the crux.
Technical Rating: SC6+
Map: Google Maps
GPS Track: Download
First Ascent: 2009 – Allan Schierman
The weather was too nice to sit at home a day after my solo ascent of Wolverine Peak in Yoho National Park. Part of me wanted a break, especially from the driving but with a large trip coming up the following week I had to space my outings properly to give my body a few days off between excursions. After scrambling Tornado Mountain in 2020 and Gould Dome in 2021 I was ready for another unique peakbagging opportunity in the Dutch Creek area. I’d run across a prominent peak that others seemed to have missed over the years while researching routes over the winter. Allan Schierman has done many of the peaks along the Great Divide and had put up a likely FA of Battleship Peak. This intriguing summit lies directly between Tornado and Gould Dome and is often confused with the latter, especially when viewed from Tornado. The route is detailed in David P. Jones’ Rockies South book on page 516 and yet again has that most ambiguous of ratings – F 3rd.
Due to the long, often very rough drive up Dutch Creek I briefly considered camping for a night and bagging some other peaks in the area. With hot weather and sore joints I decided against the idea – my body would need two solid days off before putting it through the wringer again. It’s hard to admit but I’m not a 23 year old with limitless energy and physique anymore. I plotted a line on Google Earth from the description and hoped I’d be able to suss out the route once I had feet on the mountain. It sounded a bit convoluted but Allan is a descriptive guy which helps on his routes. The drive on Saturday morning was bloody long and Dutch Creek “Road” was more of a rough ATV track for almost its entire length! It was bone dry but this also meant it was horribly, horribly rough. I was crawling along in my Tacoma at 8-15 km/h and that felt too fast sometimes! I didn’t know how far I could drive but had my bike so it didn’t really matter. In the end I drove much further than expected, right up to a washout in Dutch Creek where 4 off-road rigged Jeeps were sitting at a pretty sweet camp. After ensuring I wasn’t parking in their way I got on my bike and start pedaling down the road – the key word here is “down”.
I had plotted a devious line up a series of logging roads branching off the main Dutch Creek road up the SW flanks of Battleship. I was hoping against hope that this section would be rideable – or at least pushable so I could ride back down it at the end of the day. The Dutch Creek Road undulated much more than I was expecting and by the 4th creek crossing I was ready for a steady uphill climb to get some elevation going. I wondered if I should fill my water bottle at the 4th crossing and on hindsight I definitely should have. The map indicated many more small streams on route so I didn’t bother. I easily found the logging road and it looked like it was traveled – great news! I huffed and puffed and pushed my darn bike up a series of steep switchbacks, always finding the route where I’d plotted it in Gaia ahead of time. This was going to be a fun ride back out…
Eventually the road topped out and became overgrown and I decided I’d brought the 2-wheel steed far enough. I could see that the boulder field was close and followed first the road and then a faint ribboned trail towards it. I couldn’t believe the trail – it was hard to follow but was there under the bushes with at least 3 pink ribbons showing the way. I popped out of the bush and onto the impressive boulder field that led all the way up to the NW2 / Battleship col high above.
The boulder field was very scenic and fun to ascend – I was loving the lack of bushwhacking on this peak so far. The only fly in the ointment was a severe lack of any water since the last creek crossing and a very dry looking upper mountain too. It was going to be a hot day and I was more than a little concerned about the situation. Lesson learned – fill up at least a few hundred ml’s when hiking and scrambling in August. The rubble slope to the col was a beast. Allan has a good suggestion to avoid the loosest crap on slopes to the right and he’s bang on.
As I ascended the loose slope my views kept improving behind me over Dutch Creek towards Erris and Funnel Peak. The NW2 outlier of Battleship loomed steeply over my ascent line, shedding enough rocks that I was happy to be wearing the brain bucket. Eventually I topped out just over the col and took in the NW and NE ridges of Battleship, looking quite fierce from this vantage. There wasn’t much to do but heed Allan’s advice and stick to climber’s right of the ridge crest once it steepened beyond scrambling. After a short traverse I found what Allan dubs the ‘crux’ – a steep moderate crack leading up to another traverse of the upper NW ridge.
Once up the steep section Allan once again suggests a traverse climber’s right of the ridge crest. I followed his advice as much as I could but still ended up ascending some difficult terrain around the false summit before realizing where I was. The trick is to stay on a loose scree traverse as high as possible without going onto the cliffs until you’re around the false summit and on the south side of the NE ridge.
After realizing my mistake I managed to descend and traverse a bit further on the south side of the NE ridge before spotting another candidate route – this time under the summit block. Stiff moderate scrambling brought me to a slightly difficult down climb – similar to the one from Wolverine Peak the day before. Splitting hairs with Allan, I would consider this the crux as it was technically a bit harder than the lower one – but not that exposed. I was happy to be 6 feet tall for this one too.
After the down climb only a steep moderate wall remained to the summit of Battleship Peak. My views from here were fantastic, especially towards Gould Dome and Tornado Mountain. After digging around for a bit in the small summit cairn I found Allan’s summit register from 2009 with no entries since.
I was hoping to avoid the traverse to the east peak simply because I had no water and it was a hot day. BUT. Allan doesn’t make it clear in his description which peak is higher and the east peak looked to be very close in height to the west one that I was standing on.
Based on years of summits I pretty much know that when a distant (but not too distant) peak looks similar in height it’s almost guaranteed to be lower but it was close enough that I “had” to go check it out. I descended horribly loose scree under the summit block before traversing a long series of extremely loose and tiring ledges towards the east end of the NE ridge.
It was about as much fun as it sounds. Not much. But what are you gonna do right? It’s not like I was coming back to check out the east peak any time soon so it kinda had to be done. And you can thank me now that I’ve done it because as I grunted back up rubble and scree to the east summit it was glaringly obvious that it was indeed lower than the west one. Now you don’t have to do that silly traverse to claim the peak. Views were similar from the east peak although Tornado looked a bit better than from the west one.
I measured the summit on my altimeter app to compare it to the west one which again proved what my eyes were already telling me. A slightly frustrated sigh followed. Than I remembered that I was on a remote peak with stellar views and all by myself on a summer weekend. The sighing became slightly more positive after that, although I was now dang thirsty and still far away from my last known water source along the Dutch Creek Road. The traverse back to the col went as expected. It was hot and the climbs were tiring as was the slipping and sliding around on loose rubble. It was still better than the couch though.
After easily descending the lower crux on the NW ridge I delicately descended the loose scree and rubble slopes from the col to the scenic boulder field. Cascades of rock followed me down sections and I nearly got hit a few times but large rocks dislodging above me. Wandering through the boulders was a neat landscape with Pikas and Marmots yelling at me the entire time.
A short stint on the faded trail in the forest brought me back to the overgrown road and eventually to my bike. An interesting artifact was hanging on a tree just past my bike on the trail – a webcam of all things! Way out in the middle of nowhere, now I know why it felt like these roads were traveled a bit. Someone must hunt in this area as there’s no way it’s from scramblers or climbers.
The initial part of my ride was awesome! The logging roads were very steep in places and I had to be careful when coming up on fallen trees that had to be lifted over. I was happy to be wearing my brain bucket here. I made very short work of the logging road and was soon barrelling along the Dutch Creek Road trying not to care about all the uphill sections on return. Then my bike chain busted. Goshdarnit. Vern wasn’t the happiest person in the world as he pushed his bike along (remember all those uphill sections on return?!). I had a chain repair tool but apparently it busted on me without my knowledge so that wasn’t much help. Oh well. I cruised the few downhill sections and walked the rest. I spent a good 5 minutes in the middle of the first stream crossing dunking myself in the cold water and drinking as much as possible. Thanks to Allan’s great beta I managed to complete the trip in under 7 hours even with a busted chain. Allan took 12.5 so the beta and my bike approach definitely saved a whack of time.
I highly recommend Battleship Peak for those looking for a unique mountain that sees very few visitors. It’s best done as you hike along the GDT but also very worthwhile on its own or as part of a multi day trip in the area. As far as difficulties go I’d say it’s slightly harder than Tornado Mountain and easier than Gould Dome – right in the middle where it also physically sits.