Commentary on South West Face of Mount Assiniboine and Lunette Peak MassifThe overview, getting there and essential gear sections provide some great preparatory information for an ascent of the South West Face of Lunette Peak. I wanted to qualify my route description for the South-West Face of Lunette Peak by clearing stating we only descended this route, so I think our perspective is not complete to provide a comprehensive account of an ascent of the route. On our trip, after spending the night at the R.C. Hind Hut, we solo’ed the North Ridge of Mt. Assiniboine with no wind, little snow or ice and dry rock. I found our descent down the SW Face of Assiniboine horrid. The near vertical cliffs are comprised of some of the worst rock I have encountered in the Canadian Rockies.
From the Assiniboine/Lunette Col to the summit of Lunette Peak, and down to tree line, the rock quality is still very poor, but not as steep and loose as above the col. I wouldn’t recommend ascending the SW Face of Mt. Assiniboine, but would recommend a traverse of Assiniboine to Lunette Peak for avid peak baggers. In my opinion, the photograph with the route marked in Bill Corbett’s book (see reference below) is the best description. The SW Face is vast and complex, but in dry conditions, it is a Class 4 scramble to the summit of Lunette Peak.
OverviewLunette Peak is an obscure outlier on the South Ridge of Mount Assiniboine. Although only really a bump on the South Ridge, it is an officially designated separate peak and on the list of Canadian Rockies 11,000 foot summits. Lunette Peak has a summit elevation of 3400 metres (11,155 feet). The prominence from the Mt. Assiniboine/Lunette Peak col to the summit of Lunette Peak is only 40 metres (130 feet) with an approximately isolation between the summits of Assiniboine and Lunette of 600 metres (1970 feet).
Getting ThereSince Lunette Peak is essentially the south summit of Mt. Assiniboine, the approach is the same as Assiniboine. If only ascending Lunette Peak, the approach via Assiniboine Creek is the only realistic approach. If combining a climb of Mt. Assiniboine and Lunette Peak (highly recommended) either the Lake Magog or the Assiniboine Creek approach is viable. Mt. Assiniboine/Lunette Peak is located on the continental divide, so partly in Alberta (Banff National Park) and British Columbia (Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park). The standard and most used approach for Mt. Assiniboine is from the shores of Lake Magog, and for less energetic parties, via helicopter to the Assiniboine Lodge helipad.
Assiniboine Creek Approach
Dow’s description for the approach up Assiniboine Creek provides excellent information for both the drive to the parking area near Aurora Creek and the hike to the R.C. Hind Hut. If traversing Mt. Assiniboine to Lunette Peak, a night stay at the R.C. Hind Hut is recommended. Hike to the hut from the Aurora Creek parking area takes 5 to 6 hours and is approximately 11 km. If only ascending Lunette Peak, at the obvious and cairned Y intersection, about 4.5 kilometres from the parking area, turn right (east) to follow Lunette Creek to Lunette Lake. Once at Lunette Lake, continue North East towards the South Slopes of Lunette Peak. Great bivy locations at tree line with lots of water available, approximately GR943345.
Magog Lake approach
Red Tape / Camping BivouacsMt. Assiniboine/Lunette Peak is located on the continental divide, so partly in Alberta (Banff National Park) and British Columbia (Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park). No permit is required to park or climb in either park. Bivying in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, above Lunette Lake, does not require a pass or fee. Camping in designated backcountry campgrounds and cabins in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park does require prepayment. See link for more information.
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
Reservations for the R.C. Hind Hut must be made through the Assiniboine Lodge.
Route Description- South West Face, Alpine II
Essential GearIf the South-West Face is dry and snow free, then only a helmet is required. The SW Face is vast and complex, but in dry conditions, it is a Class 4 scramble to the summit of Lunette Peak. If there is snow and ice, then crampons, axe or even a rope (and protection) may be required. Most years will have snow and ice lingering into August or September. Early season climbs will likely require the additional gear, more time and roped climbing. The rock is loose, but protection from pitons would be possible. We did see several rappel anchors on our descent, below the orange band, but these sections are possible to downclimb (Class 4).
If approaching via Sturdee Glacier, then bring standard glacier travel and crevasse rescue gear; depending on snow coverage, pickets or ice screws, pulleys, locking carabiners and carabiners, slings and prussiks. Probe is useful for detecting crevasses.
We had summit temperatures of 20 C (70 F) in late September, but this is not the norm. High quality clothes are required. Rain/snow storm shell, down jacket, waterproof climbing boots and good food.
ReferenceBill Corbett’s book, The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies, provides a comprehensive climber’s guide and history to the 54 11,000-foot peaks in the Canadian Rockies.
11,000'ers of the Canadian Rockies