Nearly 3 years ago a group of us did Jim Kelly Peak and a traverse of Coquihalla Mountain. From there we got a good view of a prominent peak to the south. Since then it's been on my ever expanding list. EAK, who was on that trip did Tulameen a year or so later and Just B (also on that Coquihalla trip) who'd already done it twice before was game to do it again, but from a different approach this time.
Studying topo maps I came up with a rough route that was refined a little by Justin. With the unsettled weather of late he suggested a later start as things often seem to clear up a bit later in the day. No problem for me with starting late - done that a few times, so after picking him up in Hope we drive up the Coquihalla taking exit 192 and get on the Sowaqua Creek FSR.
Mild waterbars for the first 4km or so then the road is in good shape. Near Montigny Creek (around 13km mark) we stop and get a decent view of the southwest slopes of Tulameen.
We want to ascend the ridge centre right of shot and aim for the highest bump.
We'd passed a short spur road just before this point and we drove back to it and up to it's end (about .4km). Elevation of 780m. From here we head through the cutblock and get into the forest. Travel upwards isn't too bad and we cut a game trail that we follow for a while.
The terrain is reasonably steep and we make our way up the occasional bluff. The ridge begins to narrow and open up in places. Here we discovered an abundance of flowering wild strawberry plants which will probably bear fruit in couple of weeks. Other flowers are blooming too.
Justin going up one of the bluffs.
With "Strawberry Fields Forever" now playing in my head we are making good time up the ridge line and after a quick break we cross over a creek and sidehill on open slopes under the high point shown in the first picture.
Here's Justin in that area with Outram, Manson Peak, Hatfield and MacLeod at rear. It's got a little more cloudy too.
Working our way under the south side of Tulameen's west peak we crest a rise and get our first view of Tulameen.
There it is.
Somewhere around here Justin notices that his ass is really wet[:0]. Upon further investigation he discovers that a litre of water has emptied itself in his pack
. Some of his gear is wet, but he sorts things out and puts the dry gear in a garbage bag and onwards we continue with a promise from me to give him some water later on.
We sidehill over to just below the west peak/summit col and then follow the southwest ridge up towards the top. This is mostly class 2 and very pleasant. Summit fever has kicked in for me and I boot it up. There's 3 peaks on the summit crest with the last (north one) being the highest. A huge summit cairn adorns this peak and I searched in vain for a register (EAK mentions one in his TR). There was fresh snow/frost binding the cairn rocks together too.
Shirt sleeves summit shot. It was bloody chilly up there, so more layers were added pretty quick.
Justin cresting the peak ridge and taking a picture of me taking a picture of him.
In short order Justin joins me on the summit of 2285m. This route took us 4 hours to ascend which makes for one of the quicker ways to get up this mountain. Clothing was added, food and drink taken and the cameras were getting heavy use. Still some cloud around, but things were looking promising and we were in no rush to leave.
1. Hozameen and Jack centre left with Brice centre right.
2. Looking down the north ridge. EAK came in this route - more ridge walking this way.
3. Western view with the West Peak at left and Mount Snider at right. Mick Range and Too Many Canyons got to the centre left area in their trip up this way from near where we started from but with a storm approaching decided to forgo a summit attempt.
4. Summit shot and the huge cairn.
5. Northwards shot towards Coquihalla Mountain and Jim Kelly Peak.
There was a chilly wind blowing and the temperature was quite low. We spent over an hour up there and had on a fair amount of clothing. Well worth it though as I'd never had these aspects before of the many mountains and valleys around us. Justin has camped up here before and has some amazing shots on Bivouac of his time spent there.
Looking out towards Hope Mountain and The Fraser River.
Southeastern view with Mount Davis centre shot. Snazzy, Snass, Dewdney and Outram in the background.
We could see all the way out to the Mountains of Cathedral Park, Golden Ears was visible to the west and many big North Cascades mountains in Washington State were visible.
The afternoon was now becoming the evening and we still wanted to bag the west peak. Down we went, boot skiing on patchy snow. I was quite surprised by the lack of snow in this area as all the other places I've been this past month (quite a few
) had lots still. From the col it's an easy scramble up to the 2205m high west peak and more good views. We found some goat hair too on the way, though we didn't see any even though the whole area is riddled with their trails.
Justin heading down Tulameen with our next stop at right.
Good aspects here of where we just were and the sun is making more of an appearance too, and there's no wind.
West Peak summit shot with Tulameen Mountain behind.
Snazzy and Snass, Davis and Dewdney. You can just see Frosty and Castle in the distance.
We built a small cairn (seen in the shot above) as there wasn't one. Could this be a first human ascent? Yeah, right
A zoom on the north side of Outram. Pretty dramatic from this angle. Silvertip visible at rear.
The lowering sun makes for some nice lighting on the forested ridges. Outram, Manson and Hatfield with Silvertip, Rideout and Payne behind.
Ptarmigan, Dot, Lago, Carru and Osceola in Wastington State to the southeast. The prominent peak in front of Carru is a subpeak south of Snass.
I decide to head west a little more before going south to where we came up whilst Justin spent a bit more time on the summit before dropping south off it. I found I'd have to go a fair distance before I could get both the west and main summits in view. No time for that as time was really getting on. There were a few cornices on the north side of the ridge to watch out for.
A cornice and a view over to Mount Snider.
I drop downwards enjoying the view to the south and meet up with Justin. Still many opportunities for photos and with dwindling camera battery power (the one thing I'm not impressed with on my camera) we grab some more pictures.
Snags, Outram, Manson, Hatfield and MacLeod.
The northwest ridge of Davis with upper Sowaqua Valley below with Mount Dewdney, Outram and Manson at rear.
Retracing our steps, we grab some sweet tasting water at one of the many creeks that drain the south side and then drop down to regain the ridge we came up on.
An idea of the terrain on the ridge. Route finding easy enough here, but a little more difficult in the dense forest further down.
The days last rays of sun shine on MacLeod.
The forest closes in and we try and keep ourselves on track. There was some flagging that we stuck with for a while, a few guesses and a spot of ninja scree (as described by Mick) to deal with. The sun had also set by now. My GPS has a bit of trouble with the "go to" feature - it's 8 years old now and a bit beat up. It said go left, whilst we preferred right. We split the difference and emerged in the cutblock close to where we entered it and still had to go more right to get back to the vehicle.
We cracked a couple of Cherry Cokes, chilled out for a while and talked about what an enjoyable time we'd had. 9.5 hours round trip with a cumulative elevation gain of around 1800m and once again the weather co-operated. Thanks for the company Justin, the peak IDing and I enjoyed that last donut for lunch today
Map of route.
Coquihalla Traverse TR.