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Keystone Peak and "Voussoir Peak"

Difficulty: 
Easy/Moderate Snowshoeing
Elevation [m]: 
2386
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
31.3
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
850
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1800
YDS Difficulty: 
2
Ascent Time: 
7:40 from Car to Keystone + 1:00 Keystone to "Voussoir"
Bushwhackyness: 
None
Tripdate: 
Monday, November 17, 2014

 

As far as I can remember I had never been to Revelstoke (which I guess is understandable as it is quite the drive from Edmonton!), but since last winter when Eric, Steven, and I were contemplating a ski trip to the area I knew eventually we would get around to it.  It turns out this would be that trip, with less ideal forecasts for most of the Rockies we decided to make the long drive out, and chose an objective which google earth predicted would have outstanding sunrise/sunset views up Keystone Peak above Keystone Basin, north of Revelstoke on the Big Bend Highway.
 
Like many trips, the approach was half the battle, and getting to the trailhead took about 9 and a half hours from Edmonton, the last hour of which on a (progressively snowier the higher we got) logging road.  Eric did an admirable job driving the Volvo up the logging road saving us a good 13 km distance and ~1000 m of elevation than if we had started at the highway.  After going as far as we could in the car we got a few hours sleep, and already being ahead of schedule planned to wake up near sunrise to start the on foot approach.
 

Eric and Steven doing the last bit of packing before heading out from the mighty Volvo.

Frenchman's Cap peaking out from the approach road.

 

After a quick breakfast we were out of the car and into our 'shoes heading up the rest of the approach road on snowmobile tracks.  At the summer trailhead the snowmobile tracks stopped at it was time to start post-holing, thankfully we didn't sink too far in most places and the trail was pretty easy to spot which lessened bushwhacking.  For the rest of the approach we pretty much followed the same route as the trail gradually making our way closer to Keystone with excellent views all around.  There are a great number of peaks in this area without official names that certainly deserve them!

 

Surprisingly frosty on the approach road.

Up above the trees the views started to get good (and stayed that way all day!).

Looking from the trail towards Keysone Peak (left).

A wider view of the peaks to the south of Keystone Basin, most are unnamed!

Eric and Steven slogging through powder.

Getting closer to Keystone.

 

Checking our gps we could tell that the trail was starting to curve away from Keystone (and below a very prominent avalanche slope) so we set off in a beeline for the peak through rolling hills in the valley beneath the peak.  All of us commented that given the snow conditions having skis would have been awesome around here!  Gaining the ridge below Keystone was actually quite a steep slope (good thing conditions wern't avalanchey) and the heel lifts on the 'shoes were critical.  Once on the ridge the views improved by an order of magnitude with innumerable peaks in all directions.  At this point we decided it was probably worthwhile to drop out packs head up Keystone, snap some pictures and then head up the higher unnamed peak (which I later termed "Voussoir Peak" voussoir being the term for a stone beside the keystone in an arch) for sunset.

 

The slopes below Keystone would be a pretty decent place for a ski camp.

Me trudging up steep powder.  Photo by Steven Song.

Steven gaining the ridge, not far to go now.

 

There were no challenges to reach the summit of Keystone, but later in the season the final slope could slide given the right (or wrong?) conditions.  Views from the summit were pretty ridiculously good.  Nearby peaks like Downie Peak were very impressive and more distant giants like Mount Sir Sanford, The Adamants, Sorcerer Mountain, and Iconoclast Mountain were even more so.  It was hard to tear ourselves away from the views but after a while we descended back to our packs and headed up "Voussoir".

 

Partial summit panorama from Keystone Peak looking south and west.

Partial summit panorama from Keystone Peak looking north and east.

Steven enjoying the views of Downie Peak (right).

Onwards down from the summit of Keystone to "Voussoir" for sunset.

Steven and Eric heading up the steep slope below the summit of "Voussoir".

 

Views from "Voussoir" had two things going for them, firstly it is higher than Keystone (by about 20 m according to my gps) and secondly evening-glow colors.  Combined both of these factors made for excellent views indeed!  I must have taken 300 pictures from the start of glow till sunset, be sure to check out some of the zoomed in panos below.  After we were done taking pictures we decided that so long as we are already up here we might as well just bivy on the summit of Keystone to get guaranteed sunrise summit views, this was an awesome plan.  Overnight a temperature inversion moved in above Lake Revelstoke making our high bivy warmer (and clearer for star pictures) than what we would have had at the cabin below!

 

As the sun starts to set groovy colors start showing up.

Excellent visibility of the peaks to the west.

Sunset giving glow to peaks to the north.

Steven snapping a flurry of sunset shots.

Same view with Steven and Eric loving the views.

Me doing the same!  Photo by Steven Song.

There are layers of loveliness in this image.

A wider view to the south nearing sunset.

Time to head back to our bivy on Keystone Peak.

Some days I would really like to have a flash on my camera.

Stars above our bivy on the summit.

A distant shimmer of aurora to the northwest.

 

The next morning sunrise views were even more awesome than expected due to the cloud inversion in our valley.  We leisurely took pictures, ate some breakfast, and packed up our bivy gear for the trek back to the car.  After alpineglow was finished and our gear ready to go it was a straightforward plod back to the car following our tracks from the day before.  The inversion made for more interesting views and warm temperatures making for a very pleasant day in the hills.  Once back at the car there was still a long drive to go but thankfully we had good clear views in Rogers Pass to look forward to!

 

The inversion moved one valley over giving us awesome morning views.

Me taking far too many pictures.  Photo by Steven Song.

Eric and Steven near our bivy pit.

Frenchman's Cap in morning light.

A wide view sunrise pano.

Eric with Downie Peak on his left.

Astounding lighting conditions.

A sea of cloud to the north.

Eric and Steven looking to the south.

With alpineglow ending we made our way back down our tracks.

Another view of the meadows below Keystone. 

The temperature inversion made for very tropical temps in the alpine.

Eric and Steven making their way down the approach road.

Good views from the approach road too!

A bit of Lake Revelstoke from the road, looks like summer!

A very well spent two days in the hills, fabulous viewpoint!

 

All in all an excellent trip and a great introduction to the Revelstoke area.  Nearby peaks like Downie and Frenchman's Cap will certainly make it worthwhile to come back in the future!

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