Heinz's Report - June 03, 2003

Mt. Hosmer Hike

This is the fifth installment of this summer�s �Elk Valley Amazing Summer Adventures�. The fourth trek � our 45 km bike ride on May 30 � is being reported by Bernie, but he is having technical troubles. The Mt. Hosmer climb took place on June 1.

The hardest part of doing today�s report was trying to choose my set of pictures for the site. The ten pictures shown here today are about a tenth of what were actually taken and most of them turned out quite well. As usual, I made quite a few panoramas, but because of their size I have only posted a couple of the best ones.

The Mt. Hosmer hike starts out off Hartley Pass Road, which is the first turn right off Dicken Rd. Make sure you take the east/north entrance of Dicken Rd. off Highway 3. If you take Dicken Rd. from the west/south side right after the Chamber of Commerce, Hartley Rd. is the last turn left before you hit Highway 3. Confused now? The trail head is about 10 km on the right side of Hartley Pass Rd, just before you hit Hartley Lake. It is marked with a small sign. The sign says the hike up to Mt. Hosmer is 900 m up, but Steve tells me that this is only to the lookout on the saddle, not to the very top. As usual we had asked Steve �how long�. This time he called his lawyer to check on his liability and he actually gave us his estimate for the time UP only. We are slowly training him, Anita!

The hike up from Hartley Pass Road is a steady climb and took about two hours and 45 minutes. At the saddle there is a tremendous view south down Hartley Pass to the Elk valley, to the west - the back of the Three Sisters and to the north - over the top of the Hartley Pass into the Bull River valley. We had lunch at the lookout and were treated to a wonderful show of climbing skill by three mountain sheep as they clambered up the near vertical face of Mt. Hosmer in front of us. I tried to zoom in with the camera but all you can see is three small specs on the rock face. After that we heard a noise that we thought was a jet overhead, but was actually a good sized avalanche on the back of the Three Sisters. It was at that point that Steve decided that next week�s hike on Heiko�s new trail would only be to the caves and the waterfall!

After lunch some of the group decided to head back while Steve, Dave and I felt we could tackle the snow covered ridge to the very top. We contemplated bringing snowshoes, but Bernie told us that the snow on Polar (his report of May 28) was firm enough for hiking boots, but gaiters and a change of socks were a must. Good call! The final ridge is around 200 to 300 m. up from the lookout. We weren�t sure about this vertical, so I tried to do some research later with some topographical maps, but the lines on the map were too close for my feeble eyes. I have to get one those toys that gives you elevation, gps location, vertical gained, whether you�re going to die, etc.! We did a fair bit of four point scrambling, alternating between the exposed ridge, the wind-blown snow ridge and through the scrub trees before reaching a very narrow flat spot, just below another higher peak east of where we stood. On the north side of us was a straight drop about 1500 ft. down into the largest sink-hole (1500 ft deep and another 2000 ft across) I have seen, and another 2500 ft. straight drop down into the Elk Valley on the south side. Since our stomachs were in our throats by now, we decided on NOT taking on this very technical climb up to the higher peak. In my research, I think I found out that neither of these two peaks are the actual Mt. Hosmer (2505 m.). It looks like it was the snow covered peak that was just across the sink hole.

After taking some pictures quickly, settling our stomachs back down to their usual place and taking note of some weather coming in, we decided to head back down. On the way down, Steve taught us the fine art of boot skiing on the snow ridge. After getting the hang of it, we started to hoot and holler. Hey, it was winter all over again! We came back to the car about 6 hours after we started out. Time up was 4 hours with a lunch break at the lookout on the saddle. Time down about 2 hours with the boot skiing and robo-Steve running down the mountain thrown in. I think the total vertical is around 1100 to 1200 m. The difficulty varies. To the saddle is moderately difficult, but it is up ALL the way. From the saddle to the top looks difficult, but it was hard to tell as we were on snow most of the way, and I found my footing better on it, as opposed to slipping on the scree and wet mud of the trail. On top is the best view I have seen so far. I was truly amazed at the wildness of the terrain behind the Three Sisters. Best adventure so far!

Heinz - heinzr@far.redtree.com

Mt Hosmer from Hartley Pass Road. We made it to the peak just to the left of the main peak. I think the real Mt Hosmer is hidden behind these peaks. The Ghostrider shadow is not visible at this time of the day.

Dave and Bernie at the lookout.

Avalanche Lilies. Clematis, Forget-me-nots, wild onions, strawberries and other flowers were starting to bloom.

Requisite arsty shot.

The view down to the Elk Valley from the lookout. The back of the Three Sisters on the right. Iron Creek Pass on the far right. Heiko�s trail to Island Lake crosses the ridge there.

The hike up to the top on the final ridge. We boot skied down this ridge on the way down. What a blast!

Kaz and Steve on the last part of the ridge to the top. Steve being careful not to fall down into the big sink hole 1500 ft straight down.

Looking back down the ridge from the top. The big sink hole on the right and what I believe is the real Mt. Hosmer in the background.

The real Mt. Hosmer? Crowsnest Mtn. in the Crowsnest Pass in the far background on the right.

The troupe on this adventure.