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Mount Harrison and Mount Folk

Difficulty: 
Moderate Scramble
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
20.0
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1330
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
2400
Ascent Time: 
~5:30 Car to Harrisons Summit, 2:15 Camp to Folks Summit
Bushwhackyness: 
Not much
Tripdate: 
Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mount Harrison is the further south of the (documented) 11000ers in the Rockies. It is also one of the few 11000ers with a well defined scrambling route to the summit. As the forecast wasn't too optimistic for most of the Rockies Eric, Steven, Vern and I decided to head south, planning on spending three days in the areas to be certain of at least one favourable weather window.

To reach Mount Harrison there are two ways, either from the Kooteny Highway and through Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park (as described in the 11000er book) or from the south up the Bull River Forest Service Road to the west of Fernie. We had heard that a critical bridge was out on the northern approach so decided to head south (my first time passing through Fernie). The Bull River road is actually in quite excellent condition until the west turnoff (~95 km north of the highway) for the last ~10km. The last section of the road is almost certainly 4x4 high clearance terrain and might even be impassible to drive in very wet conditions.

Once at the parking area we came across a large pile of flagging point off into the bush a quickly set out. This proved to be a poor choice as the flagging marked the way to an older trail that has been packed with deadfall and avi debris after a recent avalanche. Picking through the deadfall was a little bit tedious but shortly after we started gaining some elevation up beside the creek, the bush got less intense, and our moods improved. Once by the creek we regained the trail and were greeted by a steady line of orange flagging marking a good way onwards minimizing extra elevation loss. At this point we were making good progress towards the col and the weather was starting to improve so we decided to quickly set up our camp at a flat section near the creek and make a dash towards Harrison before the weather turned.

The scramble route up Mount Harrison is fairly straightforward, first head up to the Harrison/Folk col, then contour around on the SW face side-hilling across several gullies before making a beeline up a prominent gully leading right to the summit. For our trip, conditions were quite dry and sidehilling was actually quite decent. The ascent gully was predictably loose but with sticking together close we managed to avoid any perilous rockfall.

Summit views from Mount Harrison were pretty neat with lots of interesting peaks (apparently many of which are unnamed!) to gaze upon. There was much discussion in our group about nearby Mount Mike, which looks very very similar in height to Mount Harrison (perhaps it could it be an 11000er?). It looked like the weather was getting cloudier so we swiftly made our way back down to camp retracing our steps, pleased that we had bagged our main peak on the first day!

The next morning we decided to head back up to the Harrison/Folk col to wander up Mount Folk (rolling the dice at maybe having some further reaching views). The route up Mount Folk is just an easy scramble, pretty much aim for the face and then head upwards. I stayed on the face for the whole ascent while a couple of the boys moved upwards more along the ridge. Views looking back towards Harrison were decent when the clouds parted. On descent we slowly retreated our steps taking in the views and enjoying a nice morning stroll.

Descending back to the car from the bivy we stuck on the skiers right of the creek and came across a trail that was decent in places, and horrible in others. That big avalanche which mangled the old trail on the climbers right of the creek was large enough to sweep deadfall up the other side of the valley and damage this trail too! Thankfully the bush wasn't too long and shortly later we popped out back by the car and were off to our next part of the trip, heading up nearby Smith Peak at the head of the valley.

 

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