Elliot Peak


August 26, 2011
Mountain height:    2880 m
Elevation gain:       1540 m
Ascent time:           7:30

Descent time:        3:35
Scrambling/climbing with Raff.
The last day of our two week scrambling trip and Raff and I wanted to try something in a totally different area. After packing up our tent from the bivy site below Mount Alcantara, at the western edge of the Rockies, we drove all the way over to the east side and parked at the trailhead for Elliot Peak, along the David Thompson Highway. Route information for Elliot is sparse, but we did find a trip report on Bivouac by Markus Kellerhals, describing a 35 degree snow gully to the summit. Without snow we expected the route to be a grunt, but relatively easy. Still, two pairs of rock shoes managed to make their way into our respective packs and later in the day we were both extremely relieved they did.
After biking about 2 km to an unnamed drainage, we started a tedious and tiresome, bushwhacking slog alongside the creek. Thankfully the drainage eventually cleared and the remainder of the trek, into the bowl below the north side of Elliot, amounted to an enjoyable and easy boulder hop.
More tedious slogging preceded an interesting search for the correct gully up the face – interesting in that there were so many potential gullies going towards the summit, it was next to impossible to ascertain the one outlined in the route description we had. Perhaps this was because Mr. Kellerhals and company had completed the ascent in spring, when the gully was snow filled and therefore more obvious.
In the interests of time, we just picked a line and started up. The slabby terrain on the lower slopes was gently angled and tons of fun to ascend. However, it soon steepened to the point where rock shoes were a far better option to boots. As well, route-finding became very important, some gullies leading to seriously steep terrain. We did have a rope and some gear, but opportunities for placing protection were for the most part non-existent on the down-sloping slabs and so we scrambled up without a rope.
Throughout the increasingly difficult ascent we could plainly see a wide, down-sloping scree ramp that appeared to offer an easy route up. However, attempts to traverse over to the ramp were futile and so we continued up a promising gully. This was generally a good route, but soon became more serious when we reached a particularly steep step. We pulled out the rope here, though in retrospect it was unnecessary. Above the step the angle eased up. More slogging followed, and then a couple of tricky moves up another short but steep step and we were on the ridge.
Time was definitely becoming a concern at this point. Descending our ascent route would have been extremely slow and unnerving in multiple places. Getting stuck on the face in the dark was most unappealing and therefore we decided we would attempt the aforementioned wide scree ramp. Most of that route was clearly visible, though a cliffband lined the face below the ramp. Hopefully we would be able to find a weakness down the cliffband near the far end of the ramp.  
The remainder of the ascent amounted to a tedious rubble ascent as described by Kellerhals. I was already a little worried about getting down. Unfortunately that always takes away from enjoying the present moment and our short summit was not as gratifying as it should have been. Still, the summit view was excellent. The sun setting in the west detracted from views in that direction, however the peaks to the south and east looked great.
As luck would have it the alternate descent route turned out to be remarkably easy (and remarkably ankle-jarring!). The cliffband that had caused us some concern eventually petered out to almost nothing. Descending it was little more than steep hiking – huge relief, as darkness arrived shortly after. Had we descended our ascent route, getting benighted on the mountain would have been a forgone conclusion.
The boulder hop down the creek was a little more interesting by headlamp, as was the GPS guided bush-bash back to the bikes. A slow, cautious bike ride completed the day. Now at 11 in evening, we decided to camp for the night and drive home in the morning.
The pleasant colours over Abraham Lake in the morning seemed to denote a fitting end to our very productive and breath-takingly scenic 11 day scrambling romp. Statistics for those 11 days were 10 summits, involving 13 355 m of elevation gain (43 804 feet), and 71 hours 35, minutes of hiking/scrambling. With summits in several distant quadrants of the Rockies, the southern-most being Mount Jackson in GNP, Montana, and the northern-most Elliot Peak along the David Thompson Highway, I can’t even begin to calculate the kilometres we put on Raff’s vehicle. A big thank-you to Raff not only for doing most of the driving, but more importantly for being a totally awesome scrambling partner.  
Next up – a well-deserved and extended rest!     

The first look at Elliot Peak

Cool slabs on the side of Sentinel Mountain

The north ridge of Elliot

The tedious slog to the ascent gullies

Same as above

Raff approaches one of the numerous gullies that offers a potential way up

Typical slabby terrain on the lower slopes

Raff scrambles up the slabs

Same as above

Same as above; the wide scree ramp is visible behind; ascending this ramp
would make the whole ascent an easy, but somewhat grueling scramble

Abraham Lake

The view to the south; Mount Murchison is just visible at the distant right

A colourful col on the south ridge of Elliot

Raff enjoys the last Tangerine Fanta of our trip

Looking down the descent route

Raff looks back up the descent route and the ascent route, basically up the centre of the face

Mount Wilson gets some early morning sun 

Sunrise on Abraham Lake