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Ascent of Mont de la Tour du Nord on 2013-05-04

Climber: Gabriel C

Others in Party:JP Lavoie
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, May 4, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mont de la Tour du Nord
    Location:Canada-Québec
    Elevation:3353 ft / 1021 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is the second summit Jean-Philippe and I planned to ascend while he was in town. I had only limited time as I worked at noon that day, so we decided on the earliest start possible and the closest 1000m peak to the city.

Jean-Philippe had to pick up his father from the airport and he showed up at my place around 07:05. We quickly left along HWY 73 heading north. It took roughly 40 minutes to reach the fauna gate on the side road that would lead us in the mountains. After closing it behind us, we drove a little bit further until we reached the powerline trench. There, we saw we could not go much further as snow still covered the trail ahead. We parked the car and put our hiking gear on.

We left the car at 07:55 and headed southeast on the trail. The snow was still crisp and firm so the going was easy. Temperatures weren't low though and the sun was starting to make things a little bit harder. After just over a kilometer, we reached the second powerline trench and on the other side reached the gate that blocks access to the Séminaire de Québec grounds. It is a sturdy locked gate, followed by massive boulders and a ditch. No motor vehicle will get past that. But we were on foot, so no biggie. There we decided to take out insulating layers off as we were warming up.

From there the trail kept going for about 200m before we reached an intersection. We took the branch leading northeast, following ruisseau Bureau which was swollen by the melt. The going was easy as the trail went through recent logging patches. On that stretch, we got nice views of mont Pierre-Deffontaines, which sports a neat rocky outcrop near the top and a slabby gully to halfway down the east face.

1.5km past the intersection, we reached the terminus on the road and faced a jumbled mess of logging debris in a wide field ahead of us. We didn't know exactly where to head but we aimed for the other side where we thought we would rejoin the trail. After reaching the other side, there was no trail. We decided to go straight through the woods as there was definitely something over there. It wasn't easy and we postholed through the deep snow but eventually, we got close to the river. I saw on the GPS that there was supposed to be a bridge and after advancing a bit further I spotted it ahead at the lake's outlet. It's only a foot/snowmobile bridge and on the other side we reached a large camp with several buildings. This is most probably a private club that leases the land from Séminaire de Québec. We spotted the road and headed back southwest in order to reach the junction that would put us on the right track.

The roads looked nothing like what the maps were showing and we kept going after we passed a regrown trail that the GPS said we should follow. Soon after we reached a junction that looked like it wasn't going in the right direction at all. We decided to turn back and take the bad trail. We put our snowshoes on as the snow was deeper here and it was so badly regrown we almost immediately started fighting against vegetation. The way became a bit easier as we gained some altitude and we finally saw some openings to our right. After heading in that direction for a few meters, we stumbled on the good trail. The road surface was mostly free of snow so we removed them. It turned out to be a mistake as the snow reappeared later on and the dirt was so soaked with melt water that we sank as much in it than in the snow, even with the snowshoes on.

We kept a good speed, still, and gained some altitude steadily. We now had nice views of the valley behind us and mont Pierre-Deffontaines thanks to the recent logging. This part of the trail was straightforward and it was mostly a straight line up to the crest of this road from where we could see mont de la Tour-du-Nord's wooded rump on our right. We abandoned the idea of removing the snowshoes after a while and just stomped through mud and snow.

Our choice was to continue to the end of the road and see what options we had to get up to the summit. Jean-Philippe spotted a treeline on the right and sure thing, a logging patch went uphill for a while in the right direction. This made things much easier before we had to start bushwhacking.

When we reached the trees, it became clear my poles were going to be more of a hindrance than anything, as usual. I dumped mine right there and Jean-Philippe did the same. We kept going, stabilizing ourselves on the surrounding branches and stumps. This wasn't a particularly hard bushwhack, but the spring snow made things more difficult. The first part was steeper, but it gradually rounded to a flatter and sparsely covered section before a slight final pitch through thicker trees to the summit area.

We made it there around 09:50. Surprisingly, the summit had partial views. On the way up in the logging patch, we could see the northern slopes on mont Sainte-Anne, and from the summit we had nice views of the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my camera so we quickly started back towards the trailhead. I was thinking now that I would definitely be late at work so I tried to hasten the pace. The bushwhack down was easier, as usual. When we reached open ground, we picked up speed and reached the road in no time. From there it was straightforward until we reached the point where we had originally joined the road.

We decided to follow it further as it must have led to where we were going. After some twisting and turning, it reached the intersection where we had turned back on our way in. Only with satellite images would we have seen the right way. I'll think about this option next time, printing photos of critical areas.

From there, we had to take a decision. Either trace our steps back through known terrain, or take our chances and see if the bridge over the river that was shown on the map further west really existed. Our choice was the second option and in no time we reached a side trail that angled off towards the river. Not 100 meters later we saw the small foot bridge. On the other side, we rejoined with the road on which we came in. Looking back at the trail, we saw why we had dismissed it at first. It is frankly unimpressive even though it is the right way.

We kept going under the rising heat and it was only a matter of hiking out to the car on the jeep trail. I was still unsure I would make it to work in time, but didn't think it was hopeless, as before. We got to Jean-Philippe's car, changed hastily, and headed south towards Québec. I ultimately made it a few minutes before my shift, just in time to take a shower and change.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1450 ft / 441 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1450 ft / 441 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.3 mi / 13.3 km
    Grade/Class:1
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1417 ft / 431 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1368 ft / 416 m; Extra: 49 ft / 14m
    Loss on way in:49 ft / 14 m
    Distance:4.2 mi / 6.8 km
    Route:Road hike, bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Powerline trench near Hwy 175  1985 ft / 605 m
    Time:1 Hours 56 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1401 ft / 427 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1368 ft / 416 m; Extra: 33 ft / 10m
    Gain on way out:33 ft / 10 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.5 km
    Route:Bushwhack, then road hike
    End Trailhead:Powerline trench near Hwy 175  1985 ft / 605 m
    Time:1 Hours 16 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Gabriel C
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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