Heather Mountain

elevation: 2,498 m. height gain: 710 m. (from the landing)
area: Donald,BC map 82 N/6
2011-Oct-24


Park at Quartz Creek parking lot on the south side of highway 1, 768035. Drive, quad or bike the Quartz Creek FSR to the "Branch 6.6" intersection, 755979 and turn right. The road climbs steadily. At 746987, avoid a road continuing straight and follow the switchback heading south. After another switchback, the road skirts the mountainside and ends close to an avalanche path, 737986. We bushwhacked our way down to the creek and followed it well into the draw, 717972, where we started to ascend the south-east facing slopes. From treeline, the summit ridge is a short distance away and easily leads to Heather Mountain's highpoint, 703983. The official summit (90 m. lower) is a little over 2 kilometers to the north. Other route possibilities exist. at the landing
After 11.2 kilometers, we reach the landing at 1,785 meters.
down to the creek
Straight down choked terrain to the creek.
Scramble: RT 11.5; 6.0 up (including ATV). After last weekend's pleasant fall scramble on Bicarbonate Peak, Fab and I wanted a repeat. We were quite aware of the fresh snow but we chose to leave our snowshoes behind. We were surprised how much snow fell; although the snowshoes may have helped higher up, the advantage with this amount of snow can be minimal. The weather was poor but tolerable; we left on an ATV by daybreak. Snow depth increased as we climbed to the landing, the quad started to slip a little. I was glad to see the end of the road where we park. All dressed up with our winter jackets, we booted down some nasty terrain to the creek below. We didn't want to sidehill across alders, we gambled the valley bottom would be better. Travelling by the creek, at the bottom of an avalanche run out zone choked with alder and deadfall, was tedious at first. The snow from tree limbs was falling between our packs, causing us to stop often to shake it off. We knew the conditions would have to improve to grant us success; we continued wondering... Eventually the terrain opened up, we plodded alongside the creek most of the way up the draw. As we started to climb the south-east facing slopes towards the ridge, the snow deepened; this trip became an exercise in determination. Progress was slow but we were getting closer. We noticed stumps along the ascent line, we were plowing our way up a gladed heli-ski run! As we neared treeline, the wind picked up and visibility was next to nil; the summit ridge was hard to distinguish. Fab planned to wait at treeline, his recently re-injured knee was bothersome. Promising not to linger, I headed towards the ridge while Fab chose a tight tree island offering decent shelter. Travelling higher up was reasonable with variable snow depths and soft slabs; I enjoyed the scoured sections along the ridge. Visibility was greatly reduced, upon reaching a park boundary sign situated on a rise, I though this could be the top. The ridge dipped down again and I couldn't discern whether it rose up to a higher point; I pulled out the GPS. The GPS reading coaxed me to continue along the ridge; only about 300 meters to go! Indeed, after the short dip, I started climbing again; as I got closer, the top revealed itself. In little time I stood on the summit, right on! The only view available came from the western quadrant but it was spectacular, complete with mountains framed by multi-layered clouds and a tad of sun. I took some pictures and started to head down. The weather seemed to be improving, the sun poking through more frequently. As I backtracked, I would suddenly stop and grab my camera to snap pictures when the clouds momentarily lifted. This trip was getting better by the minute! Near treeline, I was excited, the sun was out and it felt like a different day. Suddenly, I heard Fab yell out and I saw smoke; he had a fire going. Fantastic, just when you think it can't get any better! I huddled by the fire and ate lots of food. The feeling of well-being was rejuvenating. We stayed over an hour before resuming our descent down the great heli-ski run; I wish we had skis for that! After catching the last sunrays at valley bottom, we hurried back to the quad. It started getting dark as we entered the aldery terrain, Fab led the way up the nasty slope with a hasty pace and we reached the quad just before nightfall. Yet another fine outing just before winter sets in! choked terrain
At first, there is lots of alder in the valley bottom.
it opens up
An opening offers respite.
nice creek
A nice section of the creek.
gladed heli-ski run
Going up a gladed heli-ski run.
nearing treeline
Nearing treeline, the snow is at least knee deep.
where's the summit ridge
The summit ridge is difficult to distinguish.
summit ridge
Approaching the southern end of the summit ridge.
marked helicopter landing
A marked landing for helicopters.
along the summit ridge
Continuing along the ridge towards the obscured summit.
park boundary
A park boundary sign on a rise, a GPS reading confirms I must keep going for another 300 meters.
summit ahead
Clouds lift momentarily, I catch sight of the top.
at the top
Another park sign and a small buried cairn at the top.
beautiful scenery
Beautiful scenery to the north-west.
numerous cloud layers
South-west view with the highway below.
looking back at the top
Looking back at the summit as the wind clears the clouds away.
back at the boundary sign
Back at the park boundary sign.
more multi-layered clouds
The multi-layered clouds with the sun poking through add interest.
visibility improves
Better visibility while returning to the southern end of the summit ridge.
last glimpse at the top
Another glimpse back at the summit since I could not see it on the way up.
the sun is out
Almost at treeline, the sun is making a huge difference.
rejoining fab at treeline
Following my trench and rejoining with Fab at a tree isle.
looking back again
A clear view of the summit ridge.
fab has a fire going
Fab stayed busy and warm while I was gone.
hummmm
Hummmm, this is sweet, thanks Hon!
wishing we had skis
Wishing we had skis...
better return trip
Our return trip is better by far.
steeper section
A steeper section.
snow plot
Snow study plot or helicopter landing site.
valley bottom
Back down to valley bottom.
last sunrays
Looking up the draw, enjoying the last sunrays.
no time to waste
No more time to waste...
increasingly dense terrain
The terrain becomes increasingly dense as we near the climb back up to the quad.
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