Sultana Peak

elevation: 3,220 m. height gain: 1,900 m.
area: Invermere,BC map 82 K/8
2016-Aug-01


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


On the good "grade road".
Scramble: RT 13.5; 7.0 up. We tried to ascend this peak about 10 years ago but we were unsuccessful, mainly due to the very vague route description in Matt Gunn's scrambling book and inexperience. This time, we came prepared after studying Google Earth properly and some pictures I took from Black Diamond Mountain. We set off to attempt the peak using the described descent route in the book with our own interpretation and strategy. Instead of hiking to the small mine site in the basin, we left the trail and ascended the small gully, 446874, that follows two main avalanche paths. We travelled steep open forest climber's left of the avalanche path until we reached some bluffs. We climbed the bluffs, trending climber's left towards a prominent rock fin; that brought us on a rib east of Sultana's main southern draw. This prominent rib is easily followed and offers delightful moderate scrambling. Higher up, the terrain becomes a bit more complex but further investigation revealed a way through the "gray rockband" and onto the upper mountain. From there, we were still unsure which of the highpoints was the true summit so we just continued upward onto the summit ridge. We were disappointed to realize the true summit was at the other end of the broken ridge, north-west of us; connecting to it would prove to be our biggest challenge yet. We carried on the somewhat exposed ridge while trying to scope out a way down to the connecting saddle. After finding a way down, the challenge was now to find a route up the true summit, that was a daunting task. We climbed the summit ridge ridge towards the main peak with the intent of checking out the north-east side for a possible way up; we ended up on very steep slabs with a very unfavorable runout, it was a "no go"... Hence we backtracked and tried scrambling the difficult looking south-west face to the top. Fab was able to find a route directly below the overhanging summit ridge. The scramble was moderate but quite exposed is some places, it led us right close to the official summit. We were both flabbergasted to have found a route to the top from the south-east end of the broken summit ridge, we were also very proud of the ascent rib we had chosen to reach the upper mountain. This rib proved to be straightforward and a fine access to the summit ridge; it also provides an option of bypassing the false summit and its broken ridge as it's possible to traverse towards the saddle between the false and true summits. After enjoying a good stay at the top, we carefully backtracked to the saddle and dipped down to explore a traverse back to our ascent rib; we avoided scrambling back onto the broken ridge to the false summit. Once on the rib, we descended familiar terrain back to the trail below. I really recommend using our ascent rib to reach the upper mountain. This is a worthwhile objective that offers great scrambling and exceptional views from a lofty summit. The nice approach trail is a definite bonus!




access gully

We've reached our access avalanche path.

at treeline

Climbing out of the drainage to the open forest on the west bank.

aiming for the rock fin

At treeline, we aimed to gain the rib above the rock fin on the left.

prominent rib

On the prominent rib situated east of Sultana's main southern draw.

looking back


Looking back on the rock fin below.


the rib is easily followed


The rib is easily followed, it divides two major draws.


blocky terrain


The blocky terrain is far better than scree.


fabrice scrambles up


Looking back, Fabrice scrambles up an outcrop.


several outcrops


Several outcrops along the rib offers pleasant scrambling.


travel on the rib


Travel on the rib is interesting and never too hard.


fairly straightforward


Route finding is fairly straightforward.


looking back again


Looking back again.


terrain gets more complex


As we near the gray rockband (midline, below the large buttress on the right), the terrain is a bit more complex.


narrow part


Traversing to a narrow part of the rib next to a gap.


beyond the gap


Beyond the gap, we scrutinize the gray rockband and look for a weakness.


gray rockband


A narrow gully gives way past the gray rockband.


short crux


Fab rounds up a short crux move to the narrow gully.


narrow gully


The narrow gully.


gully leads to the upper mountain


The gully naturally leads to the upper mountain.


negotiating ledges


Negotiating ledges beyond the gully, cairns can be useful here.


upper mountain


The upper mountain and continuation of the rib climber's left.


back on the rib


Back on the rib with the summit ridge ahead.


on the summit ridge


On the summit ridge.


making our way to the highpoint


Making our way to the highpoint.


this isn't the true summit


Shoot, this isn't the summit; the cairn is on the other highpoint north-west of us....


descending from the false summit


Descending from the false summit.


traverse to the true summit


The traverse to the true summit looks daunting.


north-east aspect is a no go


The north-east aspect of the summit ridge has steep slabs and an unfavorable runout on the glacier below.


trying the south-west aspect


Investigating the south-west aspect.


exposed moderate scrambling


Exposed moderate scrambling below the overhanging ridge.


plotting a high route


Plotting a high route across the south-west face.


gaining the ridge


A little further, we find a way to gain the ridge near the summit.


fab gains the ridge


Looking south-east as Fab gains the broken ridge, Panorama Ski Resort is visible on the left.


summit cairn ahead


The summit cairn is a skip and a hop away!


right on right on


Right on, right on!!!!!


mount nelson


Front seat view onto majestic Mount Nelson, 3315m.


500 by 50


Someone else shares my goal of 500 peaks by 50!!


mounts delphine and farhnam


Mount Delphine (left) and Mount Farhnam with its distinctive tower in the distance (center).


jumbo and commander mountains


Jumbo and Commander Mountains (center) and Mount Catherine in the foreground (far right).


jojo power


Jojo power!!


going back down


Heading back down.


exposed bit


Crossing an exposed bit.


nearing the saddle


Nearing the saddle between the true and false summits.


down the gully from the saddle


Going down the gully from the saddle to explore a possible traverse back to our access rib.


down the gully


Following down the gully.


entrance of the gully


What the entrance of the gully looks like from below.


traversing to the rib


Traversing to the rib.


looking back at the gully


Looking back at the gully that leads to the saddle.


rib in sight


The access rib is in sight.


last glimpse


Last glimpse.


down the upper mountain


Down the upper mountain.


down the ledges


Down the ledges above the gray rockband.


back at the gap


Back at the gap.


retracing our way down


Retracing our way down the rib.
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