Summit Elevation (m): 3306
Trip Date: September 08, 2023
Elevation Gain (m): 1050 (from camp in upper Laughing Bears Creek)
Round Trip Time (hrs): 4.5 (from camp in upper Laughing Bears Creek)
Total Trip Distance (km): 4.5 (from camp in upper Laughing Bears Creek)
Related Trips: In the Footsteps of Sergeant Kowalski, Mount Antevs, Profound Peak, Mount Osgood
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Technically nothing more than easy scrambling but getting there via the ruined Siffleur River trail and the wild Laughing Bears Creek is a bit of a challenge.
Technical Rating: SC5
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
Abstruse Peak was first (unofficially) called “Mount Perren” by Boles and Putnam but later renamed by Rick Collier since there is already a Mount Perren in Lake Louise. Abstruse also fits better with the theme of the area – remote, inaccessible and basically a pain in the arse to access, nevermind ascend. Other than Recondite Peak, none of the lofty summits along the upper reaches of Laughing Bears Creek, west of the Escarpment River are officially named. They are obscure and remote and most early Rockies explorers either weren’t interested enough to name them or never made it close enough to think about giving them a label. Ever since reading about Ricks solo ascents back in September 2000 I’ve dreamed about doing them myself.
Interestingly, even the Topographical Survey of the early 1900’s didn’t venture into this area as far as I can tell from the Mountain Legacy Project. It’s also very hard to know how many ascents Abstruse might have had over the years. There’s the first recorded ascent by M A Broman, A J Kauffman, W L Putnam and L Putnam in July 1968 and of course Ricks ascent in 2000 but I couldn’t find mention of any others in any of my sources. Rick ascended south slopes between Abstruse and Antevs but I could see no reason not to ascend straight up the uniform, easy looking SW slopes from valley bottom – the same route the original ascent party used.
Sara Mclean and I reluctantly rolled out of our warm sleeping bags at 06:30 and lazily went about our breakfast routines, both of us dreading the moment we had to don soaking wet shoes in near-zero temperatures. It had to happen eventually and by 07:30 we were picking our way across Laughing Bears Creek near camp, ascending through low willows to the lower SW slopes of Abstruse. We suspected we could see the entire vertical kilometer to the summit right from camp but were unsure. The slope looked uniform and easy on satellite maps but of course you never know until you get into things. We took advantage of a lower slab which was much more laid back than it appeared before transitioning to rubble and slab up a dragon’s back feature. The sun slowly rose over the valley below and our views started opening up almost immediately, including towards the other objectives we had in mind.
There isn’t much else to say about the ascent. It was about as simple as these things can be. Straight up – straight down, as you can see from the route line on the map. Every time it looked like we might be blocked by low cliffs we simply scampered directly up them or in some cases avoided them on either side. Everything seemed to work.
We took our time because we knew we had all day to ascend our two objectives and I didn’t want to be sitting at camp too early in the afternoon – that would be boring. I dislike being bored. 😉 It felt great to be so high on such a gorgeous morning and since we were moving so deliberately I didn’t feel out of breath even once on this ascent. Within 3 hours of the tents we were enjoying incredible summit views in every direction.
The breeze at almost 11,000 feet was cool enough that we didn’t linger long at the top of our highest peak of the weekend. We took our time descending back to camp – a vertical kilometer below – taking in the scenery and scoping out our next objective, Mount Antevs to the SE.
Abstruse Peak is like many other big, remote peaks I’ve done this year. The ascent was almost anticlimactic compared to the getting to the base of it but the views and the remoteness more than make up for the simple route to its lofty summit. At only 47 meters shy of the magical 3353m mark it is the highest peak I’ve ascended in quite a while.