Spreading Peak


Trip Details
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Trip Date: 
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Summit Elevation (m): 
Summit Elevation (ft): 
Elevation Gain (m): 
Round Trip Time: 
Total Distance (km): 
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: 

Easy / moderate scrambling when dry via a scree gully on the NE end of South Totem Peak.


Trip Report

From the summit of South Totem Peak, Spreading Peak looked pretty darn sweet. I remembered looking up at Spreading Peak from our long traverse towards Marmota Peak in 2015 and thinking the same thing. A beautiful line of snow highlights the ridge to the summit cap and it looked pretty easy to boot. The issue - as with any peaks in this part of the Siffleur Wilderness - is access. There is no quick or easy way to access the gorgeous summits in this area. Or is there? As with Bison Peak to the north, South Totem and Spreading are surprisingly easy to access from Hwy 93 and as Phil Richards and I were quickly discovering, not even a long day is required to ascend them. Only around 4 hours after leaving the highway, we found ourselves descending a well-placed and remarkably easy scree gully down the south face of South Totem towards the Spreading Peak col. The gully led to a delightfully soft and fast scree slope which resulted in wide smiles and huge leaps and bounds all the way down to the col.


[Looking down the remarkably easy scree gully leading down from the east end of South Totem Peak to the Spreading Peak col.]

[Tarns on the flats between Marmota and Spreading / South Totem.]

[Phil on the easy descent of South Totem's south face - Spreading Peak at right and Marmota at center distance.]

[Exiting the gully and ready for a delightful scree run the rest of the way down to the col.]

[A gorgeous and very easy looking Spreading Peak awaits.]


We were encouraged and energized by the easy, fun escape from South Totem and this translated to an energy boost up the easy NW ridge of Spreading Peak. The most remarkable thing about the ascent was the intimidating view back towards the south face of South Totem which looked much harder than we'd experienced only a few minutes earlier. It was easy to see how the descent could be complicated without traversing the true summit to its far eastern end like we had. Sometimes the mountains bear rewards for persistence, I suppose.


[Impressive views of South Totem's south face from near the col with Totem Tower at right. ++]

[Looking back again - this time Corona Ridge sneaks into the shot at far right. ++]

[Another impressive view of South Totem. It's hard to believe our escape gully at far right was so easy!]

[Phil takes the final few steps to the summit ridge.]


The views from Spreading Peak were obviously very similar to the ones from South Totem, although the changing weather and different perspective was interesting enough to validate the add-on summit. After spending another 15-20 minutes at the top of our second peak of the day, we turned our attention on the descent.


[The skies clear for our summit views from Spreading Peak. South Totem and many of Murchison's towers at far left, Corona Ridge at left of center and Marmota right of center. ++]

[The north face of Mount Noyes belies it's relatively easy scramble route from the west.]

[Very impressive mountain views towards Quill Peak (C).]

[Views towards distant giants include (L to R), Abstruse, Osgood, Recondite, Augusta and Quill Peak.]

[Corona Ridge (L) and the Spreading Creek Valley - which gets most of its water from Spreading Peak's north glacier.]

[Views towards Breaker, Ebon and Aries (L) with Aiguille, Mummery and Howse at right.]

[Howse and Chephren (R) loom over Chephren Lake.]

[To the NW lie Sarbach, The Lyells, Erasmus and Bison Peak (L to R).]

[A great pano to the west from Noyes (L) to Bison (R) includes lakes from Peyto (L) to Mistaya, Cirque, Chephren and Epaulette (R). ++]

[South Totem's notch is easy to spot - complete with the snow arete that never seems to completely melt from the base of it.]

[Mount Forbes rises over Epaulette Mountain.]

[Stairway and Aries rise above Cirque Lake with Breaker just showing up beyond them at left.]

[Quill Peak.]

[Detailed landscapes in the gorgeous alpine cirque east of Mount Noyes.]

[Marmota Peak is obscure enough to see very few ascents.]

[Another view into the sublime cirque to the east of Mount Noyes. Mount Hector in the far distance right of center.]

[From just off the summit to the south looking east (L) and south (R). ++]


For descent we had options to consider. Part of us wanted to explore the gorgeous hanging valley between some of Spreading Peak's outliers and the two summits we'd just scrambled, but part of us was a bit apprehensive about the bushwhack this might lead to. In the end we decided that since there was no hugely compelling reason to descend into the hanging valley (i.e. no tarns or waterfalls), we would instead descend an obvious orange-colored scree slope to a lower bench on South Totem before following that bench back to our ascent line and then back to Totem Creek and our exit trail. This idea worked beautifully. The side-hill traversing got old, as always, but was fairly short-lived.


[Descending Spreading. We would follow the orange scree run down to the left from the col at right before traversing back around the west slopes of South Totem to our ascent line. Click for approximate descent routes from South Totem (green) and back to Totem Creek (red).]

[Totem Tower is impressive.]

[Phil descends the scree slope between Spreading and South Totem.]

[It was easy for the most part with some slab thrown in for fun.]

[Interesting rock buttresses emerge from the lower broken cliff bands on South Totem.]

[Traversing under the lower cliffs.]

[Huge, and fairly solid, blocks are ready to come crashing down!]

[Back on our ascent line, heading down to treeline.]


The exit from treeline was quick and easy. I really enjoyed this trip. We had great conditions and got lucky with several route choices. We managed to round trip over 1700 vertical meters and 14km in less than 8 hours too! This should be considered fairly quick - I would think 10 hours would be more of an average for most people to enjoy this great outing.


[Re-crossing the drainage that leads to Totem Creek. Click to see how Phil's crossing went...]

[Descending a lush carpet of moss to Totem Creek.]

[Phil doesn't even bother changing his footwear for the Totem Creek crossing. Likely because he's already dunked one of his feet.]

[Looking back at South Totem peak's scree field to the false summit from a scree garden along the return track.]

[A quick, warm exit via the Totem Creek Trail.]

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Enter the characters shown in the image.