Mount Bell Scramble

Page Type
Alberta, Canada, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day

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Mount Bell Scramble
Created On: Jun 16, 2005
Last Edited On: Oct 9, 2006


This is a 4900’+/- ascent day. Hike 6.3 km on Taylor Lake trail and before you actually arrive at the lake, you will intersect a marked trail heading southeast towards O’Brien Lake. Follow this rudimentary trail for 1.6 km to another marked intersection. Take a right for .4 km to O’Brien Lake. This will put you on the left side of O’Brien’s outlet. Cross the outlet to the right hand side of the lake and proceed to the inlet falls on the west end. This is where any evidence of a trail ends.

Route Description

Follow the falls on steep ascent up to a small tarn. Circumvent the immediate hill to your left by staying as close as you can to the left hand side of the tarn. Now make a bee line for due south bypassing another tarn on its left side. This is you first real snow ascent on the route (early June). I actually went up and over the first hill on your left and found steep firm snow to ascend through some rockbands. Closer to the second tarn will be softer snow, more useful for descent. Basically just pick an ascent that works for you and continue due south for a notch in Mount Bell’s southeast ridge. Once to the base of this notch, you will have to ascend a 700’ steep snow couloir that might or might not have a cornice on top (must know self arrest technique). I stayed right of the intersecting rock bulges on ascent and the opposite side on descent.

Once you gain the col at about 8200’, turn right and ascend the southeast ridge of Mount Bell. Stay left of any problems blocking the ridge until you near 9000’ and an obvious summit looking blocky piece. Venture right of this obstacle and ascend steep snow to the corniced final south ridge. I chose to traverse this steep exposed snow slope below the cornice to the final several hundred feet to the summit. This was significantly exposed solo climbing on unstable snow this particular June in a near blizzard and I probably would not do it again. Of course I did have to do it again on return. I contemplated camping out on the summit for a few weeks until the snow dissipated, but would miss my post climb beer.

Return the route complete. On descent, the blizzard that raged at the summit completely blew over and left me with grand views to the west including, but not limited to the Continental Divide, Boom Lake, Bident and end of Quadra’s glacier, Boom Mountain, Boom Glacier, the Rockwall in Kootenay Park and Chimney Peak. Enjoy the glissade back down the snow couloir as well as smaller ones below.

Essential Gear

Helmet, gaiters, bear spray, alpine axe, crampons (if early start), and I wish I had taken my damn goggles for the intermittent snow storm.