Profound Peak (Simpson) & Mount Osgood

Summit Elevations (m): 3279, 3069
Trip Date: September 09, 2023
Elevation Gain (m): 1640 (from camp in upper Laughing Bears Creek)
Round Trip Time (hrs): 7.5 (from camp in upper Laughing Bears Creek)
Total Trip Distance (km): 9 (from camp in upper Laughing Bears Creek)
Related Trips: In the Footsteps of Sergeant Kowalski, Abstruse Peak, Mount Antevs
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you sprain something or worse
Difficulty Notes: It is hard to keep Profound Peak moderate but it might be possible with a snow free, dry north face. Osgood is easy to moderate scrambling with careful route finding.
Technical Rating: SC7, SC6
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

Sara and I spent another chilly night at our lovely camp in upper Laughing Bears Creek under the NW toe of moraines coming off Profound Peak. After an easier-than-expected day on Abstruse and Antevs the day before, we were expecting some more challenges on today’s objectives. In July 1969 M A Broman, A J Kauffman, W L Putnam, L Putnam and L R Wallace made the first ascent of Profound Peak from Laughing Bears Creek, naming it “Simpson”. Rick Collier renamed it “Profound” and doesn’t make either it or Mount Osgood sound that straightforward in his trip report from 2000 on bivouac.com. Mount Osgood was first ascended much earlier than the others in 1925 by W O Field, J Hubbard and C D McCoy from the Recondite access valley. From Rick’s trip report on Osgood;

Finally, however, after ascending a complex couloir and ledge system, replete with plenty of soft, slippery snow, I peered over the crest of a notch that itself overlooked a wider couloir below and to the NW. I was not happy with the descent into this couloir – it was icy and at the upper level of my scrambling ability, and, when I at last wriggled down into the couloir itself, I could see off to my left that whatever snow or rocks rolled thataway would exit the couloir and careen in free-fall for several hundred feet before smashing themselves upon the talus below.

And now from his ascent of Profound;

The second prow was more complex and required a considerable retreat back W and down along the interlaced shelves on the N side. The next three upthrust cliffs were progressively smaller and easier to negotiate.


Although often a bad move, I decided to try a new descent route, one that would eliminate the necessity of reclimbing all the scrambly bits; it remains for me a moot point as to whether or not this was an advisable decision.

Reading through the various bits of reporting and trying to suss out our own best route probably resulted in exactly what happened – to quote myself, “don’t overthink it” – and in this case I did indeed, overthink it a bit. In keeping with the theme of always ascending the biggest peak first, we decided the night before already that we would first ascend Profound and then see if we felt like Osgood. We had a bit of a timing issue since we could exit today if we only did Profound Peak and we weren’t sure Mount Osgood was worth it after seeing how small it is in comparison to everything else we’d already done. Neither of us committed to anything but I think we both knew we were going to try Osgood – I mean we were all the way here so why not? Just as on Profound and Antevs, it is very hard to know how many ascents these peaks have had but again – likely not very many.

A closer look at our adventures in upper Laughing Bears Creek. Note the “long unnecessarily long way” on Osgood. Don’t do that. Go “the easy way”… I also can’t recommend the “ledges route” on Profound Peak. Just take the ridge and figure it out.

Already while planning our trip, I’d mapped a route up Rick’s descent ledges on the north side of the SW ridge simply because he made it sound much easier than the ridge. Hiking in the day before we’d noticed quite a bit of fresh snow on these ledges but a lot of it had melted over the day we were on Abstruse and Antevs and we felt confident that this route would be fairly straightforward. It was and it wasn’t. 

Views towards Profound Peak from Abstruse showing our ascent (red) and descent (green) to the Osgood col. I recommend the green line for both ascent and descent especially if the north face has any snow.

Profound (Simpson) Peak

After a quick breakfast we made our way up the hills and moraines just SE of our camp and gained height quickly in the shade. After ascending steep half-frozen rubble beside an old glacier we ascended over a NW rubble shoulder granting us what we hoped was easy access to the north ledges leading up to the lofty summit. Again – it did and it didn’t. 

Sunrise as we start up the NW moraine, looking back down Laughing Bears Creek to Loudon and Siffleur. Abstruse rising to the right.

The issue wasn’t so much that the shoulder didn’t give access to the north ledges but rather that there were too many choices and each one came loaded with consequences. If we stuck too low we’d hit a small glacier coming off the ledges (Rick thought this was a “snow field” but it’s glacier). If we stuck too high the ledges were way too steep, covered in snow and ice and hard to navigate with the gear we had. We did our best to keep things at a “moderate” level but eventually our luck ran out at a very steep, icy (possibly glacial) tongue of snow that was exposed to a vast drop to our left.

Sara made the crossing seem easy but it wasn’t. Her crossing involved a very commiting leap across the slope with a sliding landing to an embedded rock. Missing the jump or the rock would result in sliding hundreds of meters down the snow and ice slope to crash into rocks far below – almost certainly a fatal mistake. Just before jumping she muttered back to me that “you’re not going to like this”. She was bang on! I most certainly did not like it! Unlike Sara or Kowalski, I am not fearless in the mountains and there was simply no way I could make that jump with only my icers for traction on the slick, steep snow and ice. I had to find another way. On hindsight I should have turned back and simply gone up above the smaller ledges on a wide scree bench that would have brought me to the SW ridge crux but I didn’t know that at the time. Instead, I scrambled and climbed up steepening snow and ice above the snow and ice slope to try to get above and over it. I won’t go on and on but this was the most sketched out I’ve felt since my Mount Northover experience many years ago. I was balancing on my toes in icers on steep icy snow with enough exposure under me to end me. It wasn’t great but I sucked it up, forced myself to calm down and slowly worked my way through the problem.

Eventually I rejoined Sara on easier ledges past the glacier and we continued on much easier terrain to gain the blocky SW ridge to the lofty summit. Profound Peak is only around around 27 meters lower than Abstruse and has very similar views. Alas, once again there was no summit register and therefore it’s very hard to know how many adventure seeking scramblers have made it to this remote giant pile of slab and rubble. I’d venture not many!

Summit views include Abstruse (L), Sara, Antevs, Icefall and Recondite (R).
Summit views from Sara (L) to Kentigern, Osgood, Quill, Marmota, Laughing Bears Creek valley and Abstruse Peak (R).

There was no way we were fooling around with icy, snowy, exposed ledges on descent so we decided to try the direct option to the Osgood col instead. After a quick descent of the upper SW ridge we came to the crux – a very steep, very loose, very narrow and extremely exposed step along the nose of the ridge. Compared to what I’d done on the ledge route this was easy – the rock was dry and I had fun on it. Sara followed me up and found a cool little keyhole notch to ascend instead of the delicate balance on shifting blocks that I’d used. Someone coming up the ridge and peering over the edge that we ascended would not easily spot a route down it. This is certainly in the realm of difficult (SC7) scrambling and caution is required here.

The second drop off along the SW ridge was much easier to circumvent on rubble slopes to the north and before long we were at the Osgood col, debating what to do next.

Mount Osgood

You’d think that my “bad luck” (i.e. bad decision making) would have been all used up on Profound Peak right? WRONG!! Not even close. When planning our route on Mount Osgood, Ricks comments were sufficiently complex and difficult-sounding that I planned a worst case scenario. This plan had us descending into the upper Recondite valley between Recondite and Osgood before looping down around lower SW cliffs and ascending all the way back up SW slab and rubble to the summit, reversing the route on return. This plan had us descending 500 vertical meters and ascending 600 from the col. All to avoid cliffs and silly terrain. Sara was feeling like a stiff challenge whereas I was just wanting “easy” after my morning scare on Profound Peak. I agreed to follow her around cliffs on the upper SE face from the col until things got too hairy for me. It didn’t take long. Sara reached a steep little upclimb / shelf and yelled back that I wasn’t going to want to follow her. I shrugged and turned back, starting a long, hot, tiring descent almost to valley bottom between Recondite and Osgood. Sara continued up and I didn’t hear anything else from her. We agreed that she’d either be waiting at the summit or following me.

Sara looks for a viable scramble route on the cliffy SE face of Osgood. Recondite and Augusta at left. At this point she told me that I wouldn’t like her route and I turned back to hit valley bottom. I should have waited 2 more minutes…

In one of the most bizarre route finding / decision errors of my life it turns out that I should have waited 1-2 minutes longer for Sara to suss out the route ahead of her. Instead, I spent the next 2.5 hours descending loose rubble and scree in hot September sun and re-ascending all the way to the summit via fun slabs and somewhat convoluted terrain up the SW face of Osgood. To be perfectly honest, the descent sucked but the ascent was fast and fun on grippy slabs. The route was a bit tricky to keep it moderate but I managed without issue. It was neat to see the other bivy site from the one we’d used 10 years earlier on our ascent of Recondite Peak and to remember that ascent.

I descend past the bivy site for Recondite (L) as I contour to the lower SW face of Mount Osgood.

What wasn’t so “neat” was when I approached the final rubble slope to the summit and looked down the SE cliffs to my right to see where Sara could have gone – she wasn’t behind me so she must have found a way up! My heart sank a little when I found myself gazing down a very straightforward scree and rubble bowl to a little ledge that looked very much like the one Sara had been standing on when I left her 2.5 hours ago! Yeah. That happened. I couldn’t do much at this point other than get to the top where a lounging Sara confirmed my suspicion. The ascent wasn’t even moderate – it was a simply rubble route. Oh boy. At least the summit views were amazing.

Summit views from Osgood to Abstruse (L), Profound (C) and Recondite / Augusta (R). Note how close we are to the Profound col here – only 100 vertical meters at most.
Views down the Laughing Bears Creek valley (C-R) and Recondite valley (C-L) over a small hanging lake along the extensive NW ridge of Osgood (C).
Incredible views to Profound (L), Recondite, Augusta and Kentigern (R).

Sara felt pretty bad about the easy terrain that she simply couldn’t see when she advised me to turn back. Only minutes afterwards, she looked up the easy rubble bowl and knew that she’d be waiting a long time for me to join her at the summit. She told me it took 20 minutes to ascend but I bet it was only 15. I assured her that it was my choice to turn back so quickly for the other route. It is very ironic that not only was my route WAY longer, it was also much harder on hindsight. Despite tagging both summits, Profound and Osgood will not go down as my favorite ascents of 2023, simply due to my silly routefinding mistakes on both peaks. Some days are like that – I just wasn’t on top of my game for whatever reason.

Despite being depressed about my stupidity, I was delighted that I didn’t have to descend my ascent route and then ascend my descent line all the way back to the Profound / Osgood col. The sneaky rubble bowl was so much easier and quicker – it was hard not to be a little bit sore about it. I think it took us 10 minutes – maybe 15 to get from the top of Osgood to the Profound col! The only slightly harder section was ascending a pillar of loose rocks to a small ledge around the SE cliffs. The hardest part for anyone following our route will be finding this sneaky access from the face into the rubble bowl. Once you’ve accomplished that it’s all very easy and straightforward. We still had hundreds of meters of height loss from the upper col to camp and proceeded slowly down the hard moraines.

Sara descends the huge NW moraine between Osgood and Profound with Abstruse rising far above the Laughing Bears Creek valley at upper right.

As we descended Sara told me that secretly she didn’t mind the 2+ hours of waiting on Osgood’s summit for my slow and silly ass to arrive. She knew that if I’d joined her on the quick ‘n easy route I’d be talking about exiting all the way to the parking lot today already and she wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t deny that – I always vote to return to a warm, comfortable bed if it’s at all possible. As much as I love freezing and drooling my way through a cold night in a tent, I do prefer being home whenever possible. 😉 I would rather get home at 02:00 than spend an “unnecessary” night in the tent on most trips and have been known to push things a little in order to make that happen.

Views back up the NW moraine to the Osgood / Profound col.
A lovely tarn in upper Laughing Bears Creek.

Exiting today was certainly a moot point now as daylight was already slipping by. We descended back to camp and slowly started packing up, planning to descend all the way back out of Laughing Bears Creek to the Siffleur River to spend our last night somewhere along the river flats.

One thought on Profound Peak (Simpson) & Mount Osgood

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.