Harrison, Mount

elevation: 3,359 m. height gain: 1,330 m.
area: Kootenay Rockies,BC map 82 J/3
2012-Aug-19


Ref: Bill Corbett's 11000ers of the Canadian Rockies looking for the trail
Looking for the trail from the road.
Scramble: RT 12.0; 6.0 up (from Harrison Creek FSR). Mount Harrison had been on our wish list for quite some time; I remember noticing a trip report on Dave Stephen's site. The outing has a BC backcountry feel, ascending logging roads to some remote, high place. A moderate scramble leads atop a very beautiful 11000er. Mount Harrison is well known for its North Couloir snow/ice ascent.

Approach: With a truck approach, we brought a bunch of stuff and just threw it in the box. Fab managed to finish work early; with everything prepared already, we loaded the hounds and brought them to Aunty Lisa's B&B. We're very lucky, the weather is cooperating with our prebookings so far. We figured we would reach our destination in the dark; we were stoked about just driving to our bivi site! We picked up supper as we went, wasting no time along the way. We drove past busy WhiteSwan Lake and continued along the White River on a good gravel road. At the 44-kilometer marker, we crossed a bridge and noticed several nice camping areas, complete with picnic tables. We kept to the main road until the 66-kilometer marker, where we turned right on Harrison Creek FSR. To our delight, the road was graded and in excellent shape; there's active logging at the moment. We proceeded as darkness fell upon us, following the road with the markers. We couldn't believe how lucky we were with this road, several major washouts were fixed for the logging operation; we're not sure we could have driven very far if the road was left as is... They are logging to about the 73 marker, the rest of the road is untouched and drivable to the bivy site. We encountered a washout 300 meters short of the bivy site, turned around and parked.

The next morning, after inspecting the washout in daylight, we realized we could have crossed it with the truck but for 300 meters, we didn't fuss and decided to walk it! The air was crisp and the sky was clear. We got a quick start up the road. After crossing a small creek (on the road), we looked for flagging and the hand-cut trail. There's flagging everywhere at this point, but as we hiked towards the creek, we found a faint trail and tons of flagging indicating the way. We were thrilled to have found the trail right away. Although it is faint, the multitude of flags kept us on the right path and hiking wasn't bad. We basically kept next to or within earshot of the creek, climber's left. We soon reached treeline and continued towards the Harrison/Folk Col. Travelling was very pleasant and the scenery got better as we neared the col. From there, we ascended the ridge all the way up to some bluffs; that's where we started to traverse the three basins on the west face. The first basin is short and easy; we aimed for a cairn. The traverse of the second basin is long and travelling is more tedious. We aimed for what appeared to be some big cairns but as we neared them, we realized they weren't and we were too low on the rib separating the basins. Cliffs impede the way and necessitated to climb higher on the rib and find a skinny ramp leading in the third basin. I think this section is the crux of the whole trip. The third basin is the smallest but crossing it is challenging. Once across the west face, we travelled on loose terrain towards the ascent gully. It's hard to pick out a line of ascent, but as you start climbing, the way becomes clear. The scrambling isn't difficult but the terrain is very loose and crumbly, not a trip for a large group! After trudging up the south-west face, we topped out on the summit ridge. Finally, some firm ground for the last meters! The view is spectacular; this summit is much higher than all surrounding peaks, except Mount Mike. With no wind, we were able to have an excellent summit stay, enjoying the unfamiliar mountains. I felt elated and didn't want to come down. Fab read the register and signed it, we stayed at the top for an hour. Clouds rolled in from the west, all around us the sky started to darken but we remained in the sun. The descent in the gully went well, we were very careful not to dislodge rocks onto each other. As we neared the third basin, I got nervous again; I didn't like the ramp leading to the second basin... Fab led us across, I sucked up my fear, didn't look down and grabbed on to some rock. After that, I felt good; the hard stuff was behind us. As we traversed and returned to the col, we heard occasional thunder but we still enjoyed some sunshine above us; how cool is that! We casually backtracked to our truck. At the truck, we decided to drive down to the camping sites we had seen yesterday, at the 44-marker. We suspected the loggers would be up and running really early on monday and it's not a good idea to be on any roads where they operate. We avoided the stressful situation by leaving and enjoyed the drive down on the quiet road. Looking at the machinery is very impressive; I would have liked to see the feller-buncher in operation on the steep terrain!

We stood by a nice bonfire and slept well by the river. The following morning, we stopped by Lussier Hot Springs on the way out; we had the whole place to ourselves! We had a nice dip in the very warm mineral water. That was an awesome way to finish a great outing!
near the creek
The faint trail along a bluff forces us to travel in the creek!
terrain opens up
After about half an hour, the terrain opens up.
col ahead
Heading to the col ahead.
waterfalls
Nice waterfalls along the way.
north couloir
Mount Harrison and its North Couloir.
ascending from the col
We ascend the ridge up to some bluffs.
first basin
Traverse of the first basin.
second basin
At the second basin, we aimed too low and had to climb a bit to find the traverse into the third basin.
cliffs impede the way
Too low on the rib, cliffs impede the way.
ramp in third basin
Higher up, we find a ramp accessing the third basin.
crux
This bit is moderately exposed, could be the crux.
south-west face
The crumbly south-west face, we went towards the prominent gully (right of center).
ascent gully
We followed the gully with the snowpatches.
straighforward but loose
Straightforward but loose in places.
further up
Further up, we travelled past the snowpatch.
we veered right
We veered climber's right up ahead.
nearing the summit ridge
Nearing the summit ridge.
almost there
Yippee, we can see the top!
mount folk
Mount Folk.
bull river to the south-east
The Bull River south-east of us.
at the top
At the top with Mount Mike in the background.
heading back down
Heading back down.
building a cairn
Building a cairn as we veer towards the ascent gully.
careful not to dislodge rocks
Caution is required not to dislodge rocks!!!
nice cairn
Fab mastered the art of building cairns.
avoiding steep snow
Avoiding the steep firm snow.
bottom of the gully
Bottom of the gully.
third basin
Crossing the third basin, the ramp is visible (left of center).
crux
The crux.
tedious second basin
The long and tedious second basin.
first basin
Traversing the first basin to the bluffs, where we'll take another good break.
continuing down
Resuming our descent with Mount Folk in front of us.
bad weather around us
Some nasty weather over Smith Peak.
almost at treeline
Almost back at treeline, still in the sun.
rejoining the trail
Rejoining with the flagged trail.
easy going
Easy going, following the flags.
truck in sight
Truck in sight!
lussier hot springs
Lussier Hot Springs all to ourselves.
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