Vertical Mountain & GR:090059

elevation: 2,364 m. and 2,455 m. height gain: 815 m. (traverse)
area: Fort Steele,BC map 82 G/11-12

Just north of Fort Steele, from highway 93/95, proceed east onto Wardner-Fort Steele road. Follow this road for 2.2 km to Mause Creek FSR, turn left. Drive for another 2 km to Boulder Creek FSR (Mause Creek FSR goes right), 018975. Continue straight and drive for about 9 kilometers to an intersection, 036043, head north-east towards Boulder Creek (if you reach the Nip & Tuck Gold Mine, you've gone too far). Follow the service road well in to the draw, along Boulder Creek. Keep to the main road, which is not well indicated on the topo map; it switchbacks at 079025 and heads north. Continue towards Vertical Mountain and park at a switchback in a large cutblock, 083046. High-clearance or 4X4 recommended. From the switchback, walk up 10 meters and find an old road that heads up alongside the cutblock. Hike or bike the old road to an open avalanche path on the south-east aspect of Vertical Mountain, 079056. Checking Google Earth is helpful! From there, ascend the swath to the ridge and east (taller) summit. The official summit lies west, 1 kilometer away. The connecting ridge is straightforward but sometimes requires sidehilling on the south side to avoid bluffs. At the summit block, we veered climber's left to ascend the steep slope that leads to the top.

After a long truck access, we park at the switchback.

old road

We followed the old road that skirts the cutblock, leaving the main road just up from the switchback.
Scramble: RT: 6.75; 3.5 up. Our radical dogs joined us on Vertical Mountain to celebrate 20 years since my first scramble! With a dismal forecast (again) and a long truck access on a forestry service road, we were not sure if this trip would be successful. We figured this outing was more for the hounds, it had been a while since their last camping trip. The drive to Fort Steele was pleasant. Once on the gravel road, the dogs started to get excited, moving from one window to another. After a lengthy approach on a reasonably good road, we reached our destination. We were quite amazed to have made it this far; there was no washout and only one section with avalanche debris on the road. All antsy to get going and stretch the legs, we gathered our stuff and promptly started hiking. We used the old road at first then we headed towards a highpoint, bushwhacking in light timber for a short bit. The hounds were happy and bouncy, we think they like to visit new areas. Soon thereafter, we were plodding on shale above treeline. We quickly got to the highpoint; the weather was still somewhat OK so we continued along the ridge towards Vertical's east summit. The terrain was rocky for the dogs but not difficult, we stopped to put on their booties. As we began the traverse to the open slope, we heard loud thunder. Oh no! Although we were prepared for some rain, a thunderstorm would be a deal breaker... Yet, we continued, thinking "let's wait and see if it passes". The sky was dark west of us but there were some blue holes to the east, and so it remained all day; we didn't hear any more thunder and stayed dry. From Vertical's east summit, we decided to proceed to the official summit. For most part, we travelled slightly below the ridge crest; it was easier to manage the hounds and avoid bluffs. The dogs demonstrated prowess, following game trails through the rocky terrain. In short time, we all stood on the official summit of Vertical Mountain. I was thrilled, we expected rain and we didn't think the dogs would venture to the true summit. We placed all extra clothing on the ground for the hounds and they had a good nappy after some treats. We didn't feel hurried, the weather was holding, our return was short and easy and we didn't have to drive back. We enjoyed a good summit stay and returned casually, throwing many sticks. Following the old road was mindless and very pleasant. We reached the truck at 6 PM and drove to a landing nearby to camp for the night. This outing with the dogs was surprisingly good. Thank you doggies... good boys, good girl!
heading for a highpoint

We left the old road to do a loop which includes a higher summit; we'll benefit from the road when we return.

above treeline

Above treeline.

highpoint ahead

GR:090059, our hightpoint is just ahead. 

mounts lum and fisher

Mount Lum (right center) and Mount Fisher (right).

connecting ridge to vertical

Connecting ridge to Vertical Mountain from GR:090056.

a nice ridge walk is possible

It's possible to continue north to another higher unnamed peak.

heading to vertical

Aiming for an avalanche path just past the open slope; notice the sliver of snow (left) indicating the end of the old road.

up a grassy avalanche swath

Ascending the grassy avalanche swath, the old road is below.

rockier terrain

The terrain gets rockier nearing the east summit.

east summit

On the taller summit of Vertical Mountain.

connecting ridge to true summit

The connecting ridge to the official summit.

just below the ridge crest

Never too far from the ridge crest, we traversed above the red outcrop ahead.

climbing the summit block

While climbing the summit block, we veer left to avoid bluffs.

at the top

At the top.

lakit and bill nye

Lakit Mountain (left margin) and Mount Bill Nye (left).

vertical's south-west summit

Vertical Mountain's south-west summit is more than scrambling from here!

looking back

Looking back along the connecting ridge.

ready to leave

Getting ready to go down before the rain hits us...

on our way

Leaving the top.

steep but straightforward

Steep but straightforward.


Traversing above the red outcrop again.

down the avalanche swath

The avalanche swath runs all the way to the old road.

on the old road

It's still not raining, we take another good break at the road.

lincoln and rupert

Lincoln announces his presence and Rupert's just waiting for a stick!

the end of the old road

This is what the end of the road looks like.

very pleasant

The road is mostly dry, it's a very pleasant way to finish this loop.

back at the truck

Back at the switchback where our truck is parked.


Camping on a landing, now it's raining... just a little...
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