I'm planning a trip to southeastern BC in the second half of August, and am very intrigued by what I've learned so far about the mountains of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy. Details of the final composition (and hence experience level) of the group are still hazy, but most likely we'd be looking for idea of easy off-trail scrambles with minimal glacier travel. For starters, I've looked at some of the mountains south of Earl Gray Pass, such as the Catherine-Toby group. These do appear to require at least some glacier travel, but I was wondering if anyone has been there and has any info to share, i.e. what those glaciers might be like in late August, whether other similar option exist in the region, etc. Basically, any suggestions and experiences are welcome. Thanks in advance!
Alexey; We summited Mount Toby via the glacier a few years ago. The glacier was easily gained on the West side and was easily followed to just below the summit whence loose blocks of talus led to the top. There were one or two moderately steep snow pitches leading from the main glacier to the upper glacier below the summit. No crevasse problems when we were there, in fact few crevasses evident though we did rope up both going up and down.
We camped on the glacial outwash not far off the Earl Grey pass trail. This involves a short bushwack across a side hill to get from the trail to the campsite. The campsite was quite windy when we were there. The ridgewalk on the East side of the glacier is a good activity for a part day as is the hike from the campsite up to Earl Grey pass and the ridges north of the pass.
Smerxx: Thank you very much for that info - very useful! Do you remember what month it was when you made your ascent? Also, for those moderately-steep pitches on the upper glacier, did you use pickets, or feel you should have?
Alexey; I think we were there in late July or early August. No we did not carry nor need pickets. If a belay is needed a buried axe T-slot will do and no extra gear is required. We self-belayed by keeping our axes planted as we moved our feet. It is an easy climb or at least was at that time. Glaciers are receeding around here and quickly so sometimes new slots develope and different routes are required.