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Sharp Mountain, Kootenay NP, BC
Trip Report

Sharp Mountain, Kootenay NP, BC

 
Sharp Mountain, Kootenay NP, BC

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: British Columbia, Canada, North America

Lat/Lon: 32.84000°N / 113.91°W

Object Title: Sharp Mountain, Kootenay NP, BC

Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 3, 2006

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Fall

 

Page By: Felsberg

Created/Edited: Jan 11, 2007 / Feb 8, 2007

Object ID: 259118

Hits: 1719 

Page Score: 76.66%  - 7 Votes 

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Sharp Mountain, British Columbia (3049 m) - Kootenay National Park


In late August 2006 I set off for a month in the Canadian Rockies to be part of a glaciology research campaign. The field site was a small glacier at the base of Helmet Mountain, in the Vermilion Range of British Columbia. Already at the site were a few friends, camp was set up, and research work underway.

 
Sharp Mountain
Sharp Mountain from camp

Working for a month at the West Washmawapta glacier we looked wistfully at a few nearby peaks; notably Helmet Mountain, Limestone Peak, and Sharp Mountain. The Goodsirs were nearby but we couldn’t see them from our camp. A group had already attempted Limestone Peak and reported that the climb required ascending a horribly loose and steep gully – we decided to pass. Turning our attention to Sharp Mountain we plotted a route over the course of many days and nights.

Our summer field season is nearing its end, Luke splits open his scalp sledding on the glacier, we still have not climbed any peak in the area purely for ‘fun’, and I will leave having climbed no mountain in the Canadian Rockies. We are finishing up the season’s work and call for the weather forecast, a few nice days up ahead – now or never.


 
Helmet Mountain
Looking back towards camp and Helmet Mountain

Leaving camp early we descend north to the small valley separating us from the Sharp glacier basin. Near here the outlet stream from our glacier meets that from the Sharp glacier mid-air while cascading over the 1200 ft high Helmet Falls.

We head for the ridge east of the Sharp glacier, first through the soft alpine tundra then over loose talus. I haven’t seen a tree in a few weeks. On the gentle ridge we find a vein of royal blue sodalite and spend a while admiring the brightly colored mineral.

 
The Goodsirs
The Goodsirs

We have been chasing a group of about 10 mountain goats for an hour or so. They come to a point where they must cross the glacier and sprint over the icy section one by one, its comical. A few minutes later they are far away to the east, working their way down a steep cliff.

It’s the easiest crossing onto a glacier we could have imagined, just a flat walk right out on to it. We have done a lot of scouting and chosen a route fairly free of crevasses, so we don’t rope up though we carry the proper equipment should something go wrong. The glacier is flat here and we don’t need crampons.

 
Sharp Mountain above the Sharp glacier
Crossing Sharp glacier

Crossing the glacier we aim for a nose-like ridge jutting out towards the east from the summit ridge. Arriving, we are disheartened to realize just how terribly loose the rock is, I am nervous. Up the rock slope, loose class 3 - Luke is using his hands feet and knees, I can’t move because I will dislodge rocks that will fall on him. Johnny is waiting above. Finally we gain the ridge leading to the Sharp Mountain summit.

 
Luke ascending the summit ridge
Ascending the summit ridge

The ridge is loose but class 2, and we stay to the more gentle eastern aspect. We constantly dislodge cascades of talus that crash down to the glacier below. Rock types change and we are now on more solid limestone with limonite inclusions. Nearing the summit the ridge gets gentler, but the rock remains loose.

 
Hero shot
Hero shot and the Goodsirs

On the summit there is a large cairn indicating the presence of those that came before us, but no register to reveal just how many there had been. We suspect the peak does not get climbed often. We pose for a few hero shots with the Goodsir group as our backdrop. We can see Mt. Temple in the distance and a host of dramatic peaks I don’t know.

 
Descending
Descending the ridge

We descend the ridge towards the south, agreeing that under no circumstances will we descend the same route we used to ascend. We stay on the ridge proper enjoying the exposure. Eventually the ridge steepens considerably and we decide to bail. After plunging down a sandy slope, Luke arrives at the glacier edge and steps out onto the ice without crampons and slips immediately. He is sliding on a steepening slope, but arrests his fall successfully. Johnny is pissed; we all fight and yell at each other, I stomp off.

We cross back over the glacier to the east retracing our steps from earlier in the day. We decide to be friends again. Soon we are enjoying the soft feel of the alpine tundra in the adjacent valley, and then grunting up the short climb back to camp.

Descending
Descending the summit ridge
Helmet Mountain and our camp home
Our camp and Helmet Mtn
Route Map
Route Map

Images

The GoodsirsHelmet MountainSharp Mountain above the Sharp glacierDescendingDescendingSharp MountainSharp Mountain Summit
Helmet Mountain and our camp homeLuke ascending the summit ridgeMount Goodsir, Sharp Mtn, Helmet Falls From the SouthHero shotRoute Map

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