Trap Peak (Lineham Creek, EH70)

Summit Elevation (m): 2745
Trip Date: Trip Date: June 25, 2023
Elevation Gain (m): 1140
Round Trip Time (hr): 6
Total Trip Distance (km): 14
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you probably break something. On my ascent route that would be your head – even with a helmet.
Difficulty Notes: The main difficulty is a steep ascent from the west scree bowl up a series of ribs or loose possibly snow / ice choked gully to the upper summit ridge.
Technical Rating: SC6+
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

Wietse and I completed a delightful scramble on Windsor Mountain on Friday. By Sunday I was in the mood for another one. The forecast was calling for some afternoon tstorms so I wanted something relatively close and relatively quick. David Jones mentions a “Trap Peak” in his Rockies South climber’s guide on page 142. Some research indicated that this was the highest peak of the so-called “Lineham Creek Peaks” traverse that Andrew Nugara mentions in his guidebook on page 232. Bivouac refers to the summit as a cryptic “EH70”. My Gaia GPS base map had the difficult traverse line over all 4 peaks on it but I wasn’t in the mood for such a challenge – not to mention I didn’t really have the time with tstorms incoming. I decided to go for just Trap Peak, using what I assumed was the descent line on the Gaia map. I really didn’t have any other beta for this route as Dave Jones only mentions Nugara’s NW ridge and a west slopes route from John Martin that confused me a bit when researching it.

I left my house before 05:00 – again hoping to beat afternoon tstorms. The drive was quick and pleasant and soon I was parking at the Lineham Creeks parking lot on hwy 40. I quickly gained height and distance on a good trail through the forest. Wildflowers and birds made for good company as I yelled grizzlies off the trail ahead. 

Trap Peak Route Map

I hadn’t done much research before my trip and was surprised when the good trail dropped to the ruined creek bed and started following it on a much less obvious track. The route was obvious – marked with cairns and cut logs where necessary, but it certainly wasn’t as easy as it had started!

Again I was surprised when the trail split further up the creek. The left hand branch led up to Lineham Ridge but I followed the lesser traveled one to the right. After working further up the creek I spotted an obvious track heading up a grassy rib out of the creek at a junction with a smaller side creek. Naturally I followed the track – that’s where my Gaia track led too. I should have stayed in the smaller creek to the right but oh well. That’s the problem with not doing a lot of research beforehand but it’s also kind of fun not to know every detail of one’s route.

At the point where I have to descend to the creek at right and start the off trail approach to Trap Peak via a west drainage.

After losing height into the smaller creek below, I followed an even smaller west branch and started my off trail approach. This smaller creek was sort of fun and sort of shite. If you’ve spent time in the Rockies forging unpopular routes you know exactly what I’m talking about. The further up the creek I went the more shite it became. Eventually I was delighted to stumble on a good goat track leading pretty much exactly where I wanted to go and started up it.

Sure enough! The trail led all the way to tree line and a lovely small alpine bench under the giant west scree bowl that was my access to the summit. It was hard to see exactly where the route went from the bottom of the bowl. I was wondering if the “west ridge” mentioned in Dave Jones book was the ridge immediately to my right and was a little tempted to go try it but for some reason I didn’t. On hindsight this was a very good decision! I could see some big drops along its crest and they made me nervous enough to follow the route line on my map.

Drag the slider to see the route to the ascent ribs / gully.

I grunted up the steep and loose scree bowl, enjoying a perfect day so far. I knew at this point that I was going to be ascending a steep gully and rib system to the upper mountain and started to wonder what exactly I was in for. As the obvious choice came into view I realized that I probably should have packed crampons and an ax. Wouldn’t you know that the only snow in sight was visible in my ascent gully! Oh well. 

I started up ribs alongside climber’s left of the gully, hoping I could avoid the snow when I got there. The next 45 minutes or so were an exercise in trying to keep things reasonable on dry rock while avoiding the obviously easier gully to my right. It was great fun. I ended up on SC7 terrain a few times but wasn’t too worried about descent. I had options.

Finally I broke onto the upper WSW ridge and scrambled some moderate terrain to the summit ridge. A short walk and I was on top! I spent a few minutes taking in dozens and dozens of familiar peaks and remembering so many other great days in the hills before starting my descent. Looking down on Serendipity and Patterson’s I remembered another great solo outing in the area. Junction and Pyriform were another great memory as was Abruzzi and a number of peaks along the High Rock Range.

Finally on the upper SW ridge.
Views down Trap Creek with a nice tarn under Patterson’s Peak (R). Pyriform over Dogtooth at center distance.
Incredible views over hwy 40 to the High Rock Range including Baril, Cornwell, Courcelette, Armstrong, Maclaren, Strachan, Muir and McPhail.
Views to the High Rock and Elk Range with Abruzzi showing up at left center distance. Mist Mountain at right.

I had an idea that I could possibly follow the WSW ridge all the way down to treeline – thinking that maybe it was John Martin’s F 3rd route. That idea was kiboshed quickly when I came to a drop that was beyond scrambling, just above the gully with snow in it. I reluctantly started down the gully, really hoping that the snow was soft. It wasn’t. I gingerly descended beside the snow where possible and on it where absolutely necessary. I made it down and it was certainly easier than the terrain I’d ascended but there were a few “no slip” zones which are always dicey in approach shoes on hard snow.

From the snow patch I descended quickly to the bowl and back down my ascent route to the creek. Some creek parkour and descending the running side creek to Lineham Creek and I was back on my approach route. 

I was back at the parking lot less than 6 hours after leaving. There were more cars in the lot but I never saw another person all day. This was one of those days that is pretty much perfect. What more do you need than a relatively unknown route, wonderful bluebird skies, a goat breaking in a track for you to follow to treeline and a fun scramble with great 360 degree views at the top? Not much. I highly recommend this route for competent scramblers looking for something fairly straightforward with a little less popularity than other nearby peaks.

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