Ever since scrambling Nub Peak, Wonder Peak, Og Mountain and Cave Mountain back in 2008, I've wanted to go back to the Mount Assiniboine area and bag a few other scrambles. It took way longer than expected, but finally in 2016 I managed to get another trip into the area. After a long and tiring approach the day before via Sunshine Meadows and a morning ascent of the lowly Chucks Ridge, I was ready for Sunburst Peak in the afternoon.
Sunburst Peak has always interested me since first laying eyes on it in 2008, simply because it doesn't look nearly as easy as its reputation implies. There isn't a ton of trip reports available, but whatever is out there certainly doesn't make this objective sound very difficult - despite the appearance of impenetrable cliffs leading up to it's summit.
Thankfully, Sunburst Peak is located right near the Lake Magog Campground, so I only had to walk about 500m to the SW before heading up to its lower treed and rubble slopes. It's impossible to describe the exact route I took on ascent because I stumbled around a bit before finding the boulder field, but on descent I found one that was a bit less of a bushwhack. If you walk about 200m past the sign warning non-climbers about routes to the Hind Hut you should see a narrow drainage or slight opening in the treed slope up on your right (to the NW). A short stint in the bush should have you on or near a boulder field which can be followed up to the NW until topping out on a wide bench to the east of the upper bowl beneath the cliff bands.
[Overview of the scramble and approach on Sunburst Peak. ++]
[On ascent I went up this first, obvious valley / drainage but should have been more patient. I ended up bushwhacking a short distance to the left before hitting the boulder fields.]
[The boulder field is quite large but as long as it's dry, it's rather fun.]
[Incredible views over Lake Magog from near the upper bench above the boulder field. ++]
Once I was on the upper bench above the boulder field, I started following a faint trail into the upper bowl beneath the summit cliffs. At first I ascended steeply up a shallow ridge but soon noticed a break in the cliff band far to my left and wandered across the slopes to this break. Scrambling up the break was easy and I followed an obvious grassy ledge under the cliff bands, back towards the north until the slopes above me looked reasonable to ascend. It was here that I first noticed a magnificent white Mountain Goat high above me in the cliffs. I guess there's a reason for the alternate name of this peak. When I started up the next series of small ledges and steep terrain below the narrow upper gully that I also realized I shouldn't have left my helmet at the campground.
As I scrambled up the slopes I heard a low buzzing sound rip past my head! I knew that sound. I've heard it before and it's never a good thing. It turns out that thanks to the snowfall the week previous and the warm temperatures the day I was scrambling, icicles high up on the southeast cliffs above me were breaking off and hurtling down the mountain, directly down the fall line that I was climbing up! By the time I realized what was happening it was just as quick to get out of the way than retreat, so I did that. My heart rate was pretty high as I started up a rocky, icy, snowy gully towards the summit ridge. After the steep, narrow gully there was another series of snow ledges that were marked with cairns before I was finally on the bouldery summit plateau.
[I ended up traversing left here, out of the photo to a break in the cliff bands, but there was a trail leading straight up here too. I think there's a moderate direct route into the obvious grassy bands above me here, but I didn't go that way.]
[Great views towards Mount Cautley from the grassy ledge traverse under the cliffs on my left. My approach is on scree slopes below at center. ++]
[Despite appearances, the terrain up the cliffs is pretty mellow. Other than ice chunks trying to take me out!]
[Some of the nicest views of my trip, looking over Lake Magog towards Naiset Point, Terrapin, Magog and Assiniboine (L to R). ++]
[Easy scrambling on steep, blocky terrain but with ice chunks whizzing past my head...]
[Looking back down a steeper section on ascent.]
[Nearing the bottom of the gully that leads to the upper summit area.]
[Looking back down the snow-filled gully.]
[Note the icicles? This is the slope above the gully, leading to the summit boulder plateau.]
[The route is well marked where it needs to be - note the cairn.]
[Fun scrambling up ledges just under the summit.]
[A snowy, surprisingly expansive summit plateau. ++]
As expected for this ideally situated summit, the views in every direction were fantastic! I didn't know it at the time, but they would be my best summit views of the trip thanks to yet another confused weather forecast. I enjoyed the views for almost an hour before heading back down my ascent route.
[Looking over Cerulean Lake towards the other Sunburst Peaks, Mount Watson, Wedgwood Lake, Indian Peak, Moose Bath Pond, Ferro Pass, Nestor Peak, Simpson Ridge, Chucks Ridge, Elizabeth Lake, Nub Peak and the Nublet (L to R). ++]
[Wedgwood Lake sits under Mount Watson.]
[Looking over Wedgwood Lake towards Octopus Mountain over the Mitchell River. This isn't a very well known access route anymore, but apparently, it used to be the main access to the Lake Magog and Mount Assiniboine area when horse caravans would follow the Mitchell River up past Cerulean and Sunburst Lakes.]
[Looking over Nub Peak towards Golden Mountain.]
[Nasswald Peak rises over Og Lake, which isn't visible here.]
[I've often regretted not bagging Windy Point Ridge (L) while I was right there anyway. At the time I wasn't sure if it was named or not. Instead I traversed all of Og's lower summits to the fourth and highest one on the far right.]
[Nestor Peak doesn't sound very hard - Rick Collier did it on skies in the winter.]
[Indian Peak lies to the west of Sunburst and looms over Ferro Pass. Rick also skied it, but it sounds slightly more difficult than Nestor, especially in winter.]
[The strangely named Octopus Mountain with Split Peak in the distance to the left.]
[I think the foreground peak is probably Mount Sam, the one in the background just left of center is likely Mount Selkirk.]
[Looking over Ferro Pass towards the Ball Range.]
[The mighty Mount Assiniboine. Her NE ridge looking very fierce!]
[Beautiful views over Cautley Meadows to the Cautley Traverse including Cascade Rock, Gibraltar Rock, Mount Cautley, Ely's Dome and Wonder Peak (L to R). ++]
[Looking over Windy Point Ridge to Nasswald Peak.]
[Lizzie Rummel's cabin sits comfortably on Sunburst Lake.]
[Brilliant colors of Cerulean Lake. Elizabeth Lake just visible at top.]
[Incredible views over Cerulean Lake (L) and Sunburst Lake (R) towards Nub Peak and the Og Meadows. ++]
[More views over Cerulean Lake with Moose Bath Pond and Wedgwood Lake to the left. ++]
[Wonderful panoramic views over Lake Magog, including the Cautley Traverse at left and Mount Assiniboine at right. ++]
[Views of Cerulean, Sunburst and Magog Lakes. ++]
[Looking towards Mount Assiniboine with Mount Magog to the left of it and Wedgwood and Sunburst Peaks to the right. ++]
Descent was quick, and thankfully most of the ice chunks were now melted off so I didn't have to worry as much about getting bombarded by those projectiles while downclimbing. I found a slightly easier exit than my bushwhack approach and made my way back to the Lake Magog Campground and picnic "shelter". It was neat to chat with some other folks from all over the place at the shelter. I was surprised how many people were only staying in the area to take photographs of Mount Assiniboine, thanks especially to social media such as 500px and Instagram. Apparently the Assiniboine area has featured prominently around the world on these platforms and everyone is now determined to get their own share of likes and shares with one or two good shots of their own.
[More great views on descent. ++]
[Nice views of Mount Assiniboine through larch trees as I descend along the boulder field.]
[She is a majestic peak!]
[Once again, I found myself all alone once off the main tourist hotspots. I exited the boulder field to the trail at lower right. ++]
[Looking back at the big "A" as I walk back to the Lake Magog Campground.]
[The Lake Magog picnic "shelter" with Sunburst Peak rising beyond. This was by far the nicest weather I got while staying in the area.]