I'd been saving Mount Whymper for a solo outing when I didn't have a whole bunch of time. On Wednesday, September 30 2009 I found myself dropping the kids off at school at 08:00 with a full day ahead of me and nothing much to do (still looking for a job in a very soft market after taking the summer off...). I hastily decided on Mount Whymper as an objective worthy of the day and 'sped' off towards Kootenay National Park.
As I tend to do with all mountains that have a short amount of time rating, I underestimate that they're still a mountain! :-) I parked at the Stanley Glacier trailhead and walked back up the highway a short distance before cutting through the bushes on the west side and starting up the giant avalanche slope to the base of the scrambling. I'd heard from several sources that the scrambling on Mount Whymper can get difficult if one goes off route and I was looking forward to the challenge.
The avalanche slope was a great way to warm up in the 2 degree temps and soon I was in just a t-shirt and still sweating! Once I got onto the rock, the breeze got a bit chilly and prompted me to climb a bit faster since that was easier than putting my jacket back on. The rock steps were a blast. Soon I was through the first cliff band and trying to make sense of Kane's description. He basically says that the scrambling should never get steeper than the first cliff band on his route. He also says that once you're above this band and you're "tired of the scree" you should traverse climber's left onto Southeast slopes to the summit.
[My route is obvious. Follow the major gully on the right until above the first two cliff bands. Then traverse left onto the southeast ridge and follow it to the summit. Come down and around the left side of the photo.]
[A beautiful fall day - definitely better than sitting in a stuffy office tower.]
[Looking up my ascent gully.]
[Great views already, back over hwy 93 towards Ball, Beatrice and Stanley (L to R).]
[It's loose, but fairly quick terrain as I approach the first cliff band.]
[Looking down the drainage to the highway.]
[Great scrambling through these lower cliff bands!]
[Looking back again, getting much higher now.]
[Starting to get a wee bit nervous about cliffing out.]
I started thinking that maybe people climb too high before traversing out of the cliffy terrain so I decided I was tired of the scree already and headed left. Well, I was probably a wee bit hasty in this decision, but I got to explore some new terrain and even did a short, difficult section of climbing in the process! The rock was solid and the sun was warm and since I knew I was going down an easier way I wasn't worried about climbing some difficult stuff. I was a bit concerned that I may get into a cliff or something and have to back down but I kept traversing left until I crossed 2 gullies and came onto the easy south ridge of Whymper and the slopes to the spacious summit.
[I could have started my traverse off the east face onto the south ridge here, but I kept ascending instead.]
[Looking down at the top of the first few cliff bands.]
[This was a fun section of scrambling.]
[Obviously I needed to find a way around this set of cliffs! Climber's left, or behind me in this photo, is the way to go.]
[Looking down my route.]
[Here is where I started trending climber's left. I still ran into some difficult terrain, but not too bad.]
[Nearing the summit ridge, looking south down Hwy 93. ++]
[Looking back over the east face of Whymper from the south ridge.]
[An easy plod to the summit up the south ridge.]
The summit presented a glorious view of many familiar peaks including Storm, Ball and Stanley. I also had a great view of the Southeast faces of Quadra and Bident - not seen this way by me before. I could see how Bident is a scramble from that side (according to Rick Collier - which means it's still low 5th class).
[Looking over Chickadee Valley towards Chickadee Peak and Boom Mountain in the fg. The so-called "Chick-a-boom" ski traverse goes up this valley from right to left before crossing the high col visible just left of center and descending around to Boom Lake and back out to hwy 93.]
[Vern on the summit with unnamed peaks running from left to right in the fg (except for Chimney Peak at right) and distant peaks of the Lake Louise group in the far distance.]
[Excellent view of Storm Mountain - which I would summit the next day in a snow storm. Arnica Lake far below at left. Click to view both the scramble (green) and ski (red) routes. ++]
[Part of the Rockwall to the south - including the Washmawapta Icefield and Mount Drysdale on the left with Limestone Peak on the right.]
[Amazing view of Storm, Ball, Beatrice and Stanley across hwy 93. (L to R)]
[Summit panorama looking west, north and east includes (L to R), Zinc, Goodsir Towers, Chimney, Deltaform, Fay, Chickadee, Quadra, Bident, Hector, Panorama Ridge, Bell, Boom, Protection, Castle and Ishbel at far right. ++]
[Looking over Chimney Peak to Hungabee and Deltaform in the far distance.]
[Another shot over Chimney at Deltaform, Allen and Perren on the left.]
[Quadra (L) and Bident (R) with Fay just visible behind Quadra on the left with a glaciated summit.]
[Another shot towards Quadra and Bident showing the entire upper route of Chickadee Peak (click photo for route line). ++]
[Lovely Mount Bell at right with Panorama Ridge at center and Hector in the far distance at left.]
[Looking over an outlier of Boom Mountain towards the recognizable form of Castle Mountain.]
[Looking over Boom Mountain towards Protection Mountain and Armor Peak (L).]
[The Goodsir Towers always look dark and foreboding.]
After enjoying the summit views, I descended a loose drainage on the south side of the mountain and contoured back around to skier's left around the mountain and back to my car. I encountered far more bushwhacking than I was prepared for - it wasn't terrible but it was annoying, especially with the burn. Now I know what to expect on Mount Ball anyway! I should have traversed skier's left till I found another gully but I didn't go quite far enough left and ended up pretty much bushwhacking to the road.
[Looking down my descent route via the easy south ridge.]
[Looking down the route, which descends to tree line and then doglegs to the left.]
[Gorgeous fall views towards Stanley Peak as I round the south ridge and head back to the highway.]
[The slopes to hwy 93 were bushier than I was expecting but easily navigated.]
[Looking over the burn towards Storm Mountain.]
[Beautiful colors in the burn but my clothes / skin got pretty dirty from the ashes!]
My round trip time of 4 hours was quick but this peak was definitely fun and is highly recommended. I'm still not sure where the 'moderate' route goes but there's obviously a myriad of routes possible on this mountain and if you're careful they should all lead you to summit safely.