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Stargazer Peak

Difficulty: 
Moderate Snowshoeing
Elevation [m]: 
2398
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
14.4
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1105
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1160
YDS Difficulty: 
2
Ascent Time: 
5:15 From Our Parking Spot at 1250m
Bushwhackyness: 
Not Bad
Tripdate: 
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On a very frosty early winter day, Steven and I decided to head to Valemount for cold temperatures and clear skies.  For our objective we chose Stargazer Peak, an unofficial name for a peak on the western shore of Kinbasket Lake with an excellent vantage point for superb views.  From satellite views it was obvious that a wide logging road stretched from the highway all the way to a cabin near Clemina Creek (a popular snowmobiling area in winter) so we were pretty confident we could drive some fraction of the approach road making for a not excessively long day.  Our original plan to access the logging road turned out to be via a CN rail access so we had to find an alternate route which turned out to be the official FSR access several km to the north (around N52.604 W119.111).  We managed to drive around 10km up the road (saving 10k up and 10k down!) which was more than we were planning on!

Steven from the clearing where we parked, the snow wasn't too deep at this point.

Looking West down our approach road.

Still a fair bit of road to go before we even see the peak.

 

After leaving the car, snowshoes were put on swiftly and we headed up the road (which had some fairly recent tire tracks showing that someone was adventurous enough to drive the road recently).  The first few km of road were pretty sloggy but thankfully soon we reached a clearing giving us good views of our objective and the rest of our route started to take shape.  Pretty much we wanted to reach the SE ridge (which seemed much more gentle than the SW ridge) and decided to keep following the road until it started to turn away from the ridge.  Shortly after we came across a signed snowmobile trail labelled "Morning Glory".  Knowing that snowmobilers like views as well (and the open powder above treeline) we assumed that this might lead up the ridge, or at the very least, would reduce the amount of bush to get to the ridge.  Eventually it became obvious that the trail wasn't heading to the ridge, but at that point we were only a couple km to the crest so decided to keep slogging up in pretty much a beeline.

 

Our first glimpse of Stargazer on the right.  Photo by Steven Song.

A zoomed in look of the Western side of Stargazer.

Turning off onto the "Morning Glory" snowmobile trail.

A fair bit of post-holing in places!

Excellent views once we reach treeline.

 

After reaching treeline views really opened up, especially Mount Albreda towering behind us.  The ridge up Stargazer was steeper than we anticipated but thankfully even with the stiff winds around here, there was still enough snow to keep the 'shoes on.  Temperatures quickly got quite frosty (air temps of -20 ish) as we approached the summit plateau but the views (and down parkas) more than made up for it.  The summit panos below speak for themselves, this is a great viewpoint!

 

Me leading the way up to the peak.  Photo by Steven Song.

Great views looking towards the summit tower.

A wider pano looking northwestish.

Steven approaches the summit tower, not so green this time of year!

A wide summit pano, great viewpoint here!

Looking in more detail towards the western shore of Kinbasket Lake.

Looking southeast into the Rockies.

The summit of stargazer casts a very interesting shadow!

Me hanging out on the very windy summit.  Photo by Steven Song.

Back down near treeline.

Very easy to follow a snowshoe trail back to the car.

Our last bit of views before we head back to the car.

In the summer you can probably drive almost all the way to the peak!

Great choice of objective for a frosty clear day.

 

After snapping many many pictures (7 exposure HDR zoomed in summit panos take up a ridiculous amount of memory!) we were starting to get a little but chilly and headed back down to treeline retracing our steps.  Once back down on the trail we came across two fresh sets of snowmobile tracks, apparently it isn't too early for sledding after all.  The last bit of unexpectedness came about five minutes from the car where a guy in a truck was driving up supplies to the end of the road, all kinds of traffic around here despite the snow!  All in all this was a pretty great choice of objective, a bit of extra clothing made up for the cold temps and the far reaching views made it more than worthwhile.  Have to come back in the spring for Albreda itself!

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