Sultana Peak

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

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 reveals a way through the "gray rockband" and onto the upper mountain. From there, we still were 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 (center) with its distinctive tower.

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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