Kiwetinok Peak is the most challenging scramble objective along a massive continuous skyline located on the opposing side of Little Yoho Valley from the common alpine mountain objectives known as the President and Vice President, Yoho National Park. Staging area for the scrambles and alpine objectives in this valley is centered around one of the nicer Alpine Club of Canada huts, the Stanley Mitchell. Typically hiking tourists/groups can take down the hut almost as exclusively as they do the Elizabeth Parker hut in the Lake O’Hara region and thus I have never actually stayed there. The camp site, just a bit up-stream from the hut, is one of the more pristine campsites in Yoho and would be preferable for the true outdoor enthusiast in most cases.
The Little Yoho Valley collection of scrambles offers one of the better opportunities in the Canadian Rockies for multiple peak bagging via a two day trip. Mount Kerr and Kiwetinok Peak split a col at the end of the valley where Little Yoho River is fed by the pristine Kiwetinok Lake. Kiwetinok Peak starts the north sky line (Kiwetinok is a native term interpreted to mean “on the north side”) of the valley to the west. At the east end of Little Yoho Valley is a neat looking geological feature known as Whaleback Mountain which drops back down to the main Yoho Valley itself. Along this continuous ridge on the north side of Little Yoho Valley are a multitude of scrambles and one glacier: Kiwetinok Peak, Mount Pollinger, Mount McArthur, Des Poilus Glacier, Isolated Peak and Whaleback Mountain. A complete traverse of this skyline was done in 1901 by James Outram and is the route I recommend (Outram Traverse) to bag these objectives, but it does require glacier gear/travel. Unfortunately I had not studied this skyline on the map much prior to going for these objectives or I for sure would have attempted this traverse in one day car to car with the appropriate gear and start time.
With no map, we simply followed Kane’s scramble guide suggestions and climbed Kiwetinok Peak, Mount Pollinger and Mount McArthur one day, descended back to camp from the Pollinger-McArthur col and re-ascended the next day to summit Isolated Peak and continue back to Yoho Valley up and over Whaleback Mountain. Therefore, the only part of the Outram Traverse we missed was the quick and short glacier stretch between Mount McArthur and Isolated Peak. It would have been much better on the body and spirit (in my opinion) to have completed the Outram Traverse in one long day, in reverse, traversing the glacier from Mount McArthur to ascend Isolated Peak, descend via the glacier and finish out Whaleback Mountain into Yoho Valley or bivy at the upper west shoulder of Isolated Peak if one wanted to plan for a bivy and thus a more casual two day trip. The complete descent back to the camp ground from the Pollinger and McArthur col was the worst section of the trip, and only necessary to avoid the glacier travel.
Mount Kiwetinok was the only peak of the five we climbed in two days in 2011 to have zero summit register entries for the year. Its permanent snow patch, which we had to cross several small sections of in September, no doubt was larger than normal for most of the 2011 summer and kept potential ascents at bay. Mount McArthur in contrast had tons of visitors in 2011. Isolated Peak only had one entry in 2011 prior to ours.
Getting ThereThe Trans-Canada Highway runs from Calgary through Banff and Yoho National Parks on its way to Vancouver. Pass through Lake Louise heading westbound and continue on the Trans-Canada entering British Columbia. Take a right on the Yoho Valley Road right before Field. Drive to the end of the road and park at Takakkaw Falls (1247’), the second tallest waterfall in western Canada. The visitor center for Yoho National Park is located in Field another kilometer or two west on the TransCanada.
Red TapeYou will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter Banff National Park coming from the east on the Trans-Canada. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Yoho National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Yoho National Park headquarters are located in Field, BC and you will drive through the manned national park kiosks as you enter Banff National Park on the Trans-Canada.
This is active grizzly country, therefore I advise checking with Parks Canada for any area and/or trail closures.
When to ClimbAs with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. We scrambled Kiwetinok Peak in September in good condition.
CampingThe closest conventional camp sites would be the Kicking Horse and/or Monarch campground(s) back east at the turnoff for Yoho Valley Road. The closest backcountry site is Yoho #6 just west of the Stanley Mitchell Hut. This is a great camp site for this scramble and many others in Little Yoho. It is below the headwall to Kiwetinok Lake at about 6650’. Of course you can make reservations at the Stanley Mitchell Hut as well.
You can go on line at Yoho National Park's website to pick a camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously if you plan on camping at a backcountry site like Yoho #6.
trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices/closures, weather conditions, camping permits, etc.