Purple Mound GR:637980

elevation: 2,635 m. height gain: 960 m.
area: Lake Louise,AB map 82 N/8

Ref: Chic Scott's Summits and Icefields.

Note: The book describes The Pumpkin Traverse which includes ascending Lipalian Mountain, Purple Mound and Unity Peak respectively. To bypass Lipalian Mountain, head to Purple Mound via Wolverine Basin.

on the ski-out

On the ski-out early morning.
Ski touring: RT 8.5; 4.0 up. Outings on skis have been few and far between this season, this was only our second time getting out. While poor snowpack stability persists in the Purcells, conditions seem to be improving east of the Continental Divide. We decided to ascend Purple Mound via Wolverine Basin; this tour is fairly straightforward and conservative. We left Fish Creek parking lot early, it took an hour and a half to reach Temple Lodge. From there, we followed the Skoki trail and veered towards Wolverine Basin soon thereafter. We met up with a recent up-track, it pays to go to a busy place! Travelling was easy, we made good progress gaining Purple Mound's wind scoured north ridge. By 11 AM, we were at the top contemplating our second objective of the day, Unity Peak. The traverse looks daunting from here; a subpeak on the connecting ridge needs to be circumvented on the south side. In the summer, this would not pose any problems but in the winter, the route crosses sun-exposed, wind-loaded slopes. We decided to continue despite feeling uneasy about the terrain ahead. Instead of skiing down 200 meters on the hazardous slope to execute a traverse below, we hugged the rocks, staying as high as possible. About midway around the subpeak, the recent new snow (40 cm) avalanched. The avalanche wasn't big, maybe 40 meters wide running about 20 meters, but we were worried about February's deeply buried weak layer... Hence, we hurried across the hard bed surface and nervously gained the saddle south of Unity Peak. With diminished enthusiasm, we discussed whether it was worth risking ascending Unity, which requires crossing more slopes of the same aspect to reach its east ridge. We opted to return. On the way up, Fab had scoped out a couple of lines from this saddle. With little hesitation, we skied down in boot top powder. It was very nice to enjoy some good turns back to the up-track. After a pleasant break, we glided back to the truck.
near temple lodge

Near Temple Lodge, we head for the Skoki trail.

heading to wolverine basin

Shortly after reaching the trail, we veer right towards Wolverine Basin.

wolverine basin

Meeting up with a recent up-track in Wolverine Basin.

climbing to treeline

Gaining treeline climber's left then heading south-west.

purple mound

Gentle terrain towards Purple Mound.

unity peak

Unity Peak behind Fab.

getting closer

Getting closer.

looking back

Looking at an outlier of Redoubt Mountain.

straightforward ascent

Straightforward ascent on wind-pressed snow.

lipalian mountain

Lipalian Mountain.

where's the purple

Not much purple at this time of the year.

at the top

At the top with the view south.

connecting ridge

Connecting ridge to Unity Peak.

looking back

Looking back towards Purple Mound.

subpeak to circumvent

A  subpeak needs to be circumvented on suspicious terrain.


No surprise, the recent snow slid on the sun affected slope.

debris and run-out zone

Debris and run-out zone.

unity peak

Ascending Unity Peak will be for another day!

down the saddle

Down the scree from the saddle to reach a good descent line.

good skiing

Fab conservatively skis the steep slope.

our tracks

Really fine skiing conditions.

back in the trees

Quickly back down in the trees.

skoki highway

The Skoki highway brings us back on the ski-out.
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