Indian Head Mountain (Chisel Peak)

elevation: 2,688 m. height gain: 1,310 m.
area: Windermere,BC map 82 J/5

Ref: Aaron Cameron and Matt Gunn's Hikes around Invermere & the Columbia River Valley.

Access Notes: From Invermere on highway 93/95, turn left (east) towards Kootenay Road #3 (not right); there's a sign. I don't recall a four way intersection before the T-junction at Kootenay Road #3 nor did I notice a cattle guard before turning on the Madias-Tatley FSR. The service road is deeply rutted in some sections due to this year's spring runoff, a 4X4 or high-clearance vehicle is recommended.

first washout

Leaving the truck at the first washout.
Scramble: RT 7.75; 3.5 up (south summit); 20 minutes (traverse to north summit). Finally, some stellar weather came our way. Fabrice invited his cousin Charles who just moved to Calgary and his friend Benoit, visiting from back east. Both these young lads are climbers, so we chose an exciting scramble in the Columbia valley with a usual truck approach. We left early and made our way to the trailhead despite some discrepancies in the guidebook. We parked at the first washout. After crossing the drainage, we followed the road all the way to its end to another washout. We noticed an ATV trail across the creek and continued that way. At the end of the ATV trail, we found a good hiking trail on the left. The trail is pleasant and soon leads to a slide path. We kept to the trail and followed it to the ascent ridge, no bushwhacking... none! Above treeline the ridge is rockier, we enjoyed some easy scrambling along the way. The terrain is steeper near the summit, we aimed for the notch. Both summits come into view following a couple of carefully placed steps on the summit ridge. We wanted to try the difficult traverse to the north summit, I left my pack behind and off we went. There is only two short sections of exposed scrambling. None too difficult. The last section of the ridge preceding the north summit looks daunting. After a butt-shuffle down a steep slab, we continued towards the crux. Part of the ridge crest gets narrow and requires caution; the rock is solid with good holds, thrilling! Soon after that, we reached the top. We snapped some pictures and returned to the south summit where we had lunch. There was no wind at the top, it was hot. We stayed almost an hour before heading down. Returning was fast, we reached the truck at 4:30 PM allowing Charles and Benoit lots of time to head back to Calgary through Kootenay Park. We really liked this outing; I recommend it to anyone with a truck.
obvious road

The road is obvious and followed to its end, passing through several smaller washouts.

another washout

At this major washout, the road turns into an ATV trail (center).

hiking trail to the left

At the end of the ATV trail, a well-defined trail continues climber's left.

skirting below the bluffs

The trail skirts left below the bluffs.

slide path

Ascending the slide path, still on a good trail.

traversing towards chisel

The trail traverses left (east) towards Chisel Peak, Fab points out an old blaze on a tree.

ascent ridge

The ascent ridge ahead.

typical terrain

Typical terrain higher up.

aiming for the notch

The route ascends to the notch (center right).

climbing to the notch

Charles climbs to the notch.

on the summit ridge

The notch leads to the summit ridge, Benoit opts for another line of ascent.

nearing the south summit

Minutes away from the south (official) summit.

heading to the north summit

Heading to the north summit.

connecting ridge looks intimidating

The connecting ridge looks intimidating!

easier section

There's a good trail on the flatter sections.


This is probably the crux of the traverse, it can be avoided on the east side.

almost there

The top is just ahead.

north summit

At the north summit with Mount Tegart and the Columbia Valley in the background.

mount assiniboine

Mount Assiniboine in the distance.

connecting ridge

The exciting connecting ridge.

returning to the south summit

Leaving the north summit after signing the register.

keeping on the ridge crest

Keeping on the ridge crest for most part.

another scrambly bit

Another scrambly bit, ascending climber's right of the snowpatches.

on the ridge crest

On the ridge crest again.

south summit

Back at the official summit for a nice break in the sun.

heading down

Heading down with Fairmont Mountain in the backdrop.

down to the notch

Down to the notch.

descending loose rubble

Descending loose rubble back to the west ridge.

west ridge

I liked the rocky terrain on the west ridge.

looking back

Looking back.

nearing treeline

Nearing treeline.

short-cut to the trail

Taking a short-cut back to the hiking trail.

small waterfall

The trail crosses the drainage at this small waterfall.

indian head mountain

Indian Head Mountain.
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