This is a 3000’+/- day. As with all Highwood pass scrambles, Mount Storelk is an easy ascent from the approach perspective, although rated a technically difficult scramble, because you start at a high elevation to begin with. In Mount Storelk’s case, you do have to start somewhat lower than most of the Highwood scrambles as it is several kilometers south of the pass itself, but it is still a relatively short day compared to most climbs in the Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies guidebook.
Drive 6.4kms+/- south of Highwood pass. I basically drove just a tad beyond an active creek with high stone walls on the right and beyond the Mount Lipsett day use area on the left. Park along the side of the road. There was no trail or cairn marking where to enter the forest in 2006. You could start earlier from the pass than this, say around 6 kilometers, but not much later due to a treed hill that stands between the road and the pass you need to attain in order to work your way around the south side of Mount Storelk’s east ridge. You do not want to have to ascend this hill. One option is to follow the creek from the road all the way to the col. But I believe the most direct route is to contour around the hill on the north through thick forest until you reach a significant drainage and then ascend the left hand bank of this drainage intermittently through thick forest via different game trails until you finally break out of tree line below the Col, which could be seen from the road as you were descending from Highwood Pass. You will pass through several lush meadows. In the fall of 2005 a grizzly and two cubs were spotted in this area. If you manage to park exactly where I and Alan Kane did, via his guidebook, you will need to circumvent a marshy pond to the left and then descend to cross a well flowing creek. You want to be on the south side of this creek when you start your ascent. Any trails you find are animal trails, despite how nice they might appear in places. You cannot stay to any particular trail for long.
The col was approximately a 1200’ gain from the road and finally buys you relief from the local mosquito population. The guidebook as well as other beta sources can be confusing regarding what to do next. However, I think I can make it clear. Ascend Mount Storelk’s east ridge from the col just half way to the start and then circumvent to the left onto a lush wildflower meadow and continue for the east face of the south-north ridge of Mount Storelk. You will not use the east ridge to obtain the summit ridge, except for the final few meters. The reason for this is that if you hopped on the east ridge early, you would be stopped eventually by some obvious blank slab sections that would force you back to the left. (photo) Continue up the grassy slopes. I believe if you stay on the north edge of the large scree slope, you will find the footing the most ideal. Eventually you will start ascending some rock cropping slopes that lead to several gullies that ascend the face just left of the east ridge. There is no doubt several options here. I chose a rib to the left of these gullies that gave me some fun scrambling. I would be forced into a gully to the right a time or two, but usually stuck to the rib for better rock. You will be paralleling the east ridge to the north. There are several “dark” hole features that are visible on approach, you should use these are targets and either bypass them on the left or right. I found some evidence, small cairns, of others who chose a similar route as mine. You come to a problem or two that can be better negotiated on either side versus tackling them straight up. The rib I chose angled closer to the east ridge the more I ascended.
Eventually, once I knew I had passed those blank slabs on the east ridge itself, there were several easy ledges that offer a traverse back to the east ridge. There is a decent cairn (2006) on the east ridge to mark this traverse. Move over right to the east ridge and finish attaining the summit ridge which puts you over 9000’ and gives you direct views of Mount Joffre to the west.
Turn right and follow the summit ridge direct (photo), losing some elevation at one point. For the most part the ridge offers the best ground to finish off the route. There is some evidence scramblers bypass some of the ridge via the scree on the west side. I stuck to the ridge and was pleased with how it went.
The summit had a register in 2006. I was the first sign in for 2006 on July 12. This is a fairly remote scramble. The view of the connecting ridge to Mount Tyrwhitt was awesome (photo) and the views into Mount Joffre were good. You also had good perspectives to objectives across the valley to the east, i.e. Mount Rae and Storm Mountain.
Descend the same. Once I got through the difficult sections on the east side of the summit ridge, I moved over south in an attempt to find a fast scree descent that was not to be had. The scree remained firm in most places. I advise descending back to the grassy footing along the scree field to skiers left for a more pleasant descent back to the col. Finding your way out might be a bit of a challenge. I would take a compass reading before you descend the col and not worry about staying on the same ascent path as much as making sure you do cross the creek again and then move immediately to the east. Once you get back to the road, you will not be far from your vehicle in any regard.
Essential GearHelmet, hiking boots are adequate, poles are helpful to the start of the climb. Mosquito deterrent. Bear Spray should be mandatory on this one.
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