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Smith Peak

Difficulty: 
Moderate Scramble
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
14.7
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1230
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1560
Ascent Time: 
~5:00 to the bivy from the road, ~2:00 bivy to summit
Bushwhackyness: 
A little dense from the hanging valley to the bivy
Tripdate: 
Monday, September 1, 2014

After having climbed Mount Harrison the day prior (and Mount Folk earlier that morning!), Eric, Steven, Vern, and I had to decide what to do in day three of our southern-Rockies adventure. In the end we decided to head up Smith Peak, the other officially named peak along the rough access road to Mount Harrison (so we wound't have to drive back up there in the future!). Vern had dug up some beta on Smith Peak from Rick Colliers previous trip, that confirmed the route was a scramble if gaining the ridge 'closest to the Bull River road and following it up to the summit'. Armed with this information, we set off from an old overgrown logging road on the north side of the creek flowing from Mount Harrison, and followed logging roads upwards.

For the ascent, we decided to stick to logging roads as much as possible (they turned out to be very wide and made for good travel). On a related note to this it turns out you don't even have to drive up the Harrison road to access Smith Peak but can go directly from the Bull River Forest Service Road crossing the Bull River a short distance south of the Harrison turnoff. Following our beta we stayed as high as possible on logging roads ascending towards the western-most hanging valley at the far end of Smith Peak's ridge. Once reaching the valley there was some steep bushwhacking to gain the ridgecrest, once on the crest we came across a well formed elk trail which made the rest of travel swift and enjoyable. We followed the ridge to the low point above the next hanging valley and set up our camp at about 2300m in the midst of a light rainstorm.

The next morning we only had 700m to ascend to reach the summit of Smith Peak. When we woke up the weather looked kind of questionable, with numerous low-lying clouds which often blocked out the upper reaches of Smith Peak. There was a downside of this, we were pretty certain summit views were going to be quite limited, but also an upside, views lower down were far more interesting with the valley bottom shrouded in mist. Our route to the summit, involved sidehiling to bypass the false summit (sticking fairly close to the obvious cliff on the climbers right) on loose scree, after regaining the ridge the rest of the route followed the crest up less loose scree which eventually moved into more solid rock higher up. By the time we reached the summit the clouds had rolled in and it was hard to see much (even nearby Mount Harrison was blocked off). After waiting for a few minutes and not seeing any change in the cloud cover we started back down to camp retracing our steps. We decided to go directly down the valley beneath our camp which proved to be quite nice for about 80% of the route (following beside a creek) walking on springy moss/grass. Things got considerably more dense further down for about 100 vertical meters before reaching a wide clear-cut that lead back down to the wide forest road.

Smith Peak is quite a pleasant route in a new area, and would probably have good views on a clear day. If you are already down the road for Harrison its worth sticking around an extra day for.

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