Ascent of Big Horn on 2014-08-08

Climber: Jared Jackman

Others in Party:Brad & Brady
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, August 8, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Big Horn
    Elevation:10877 ft / 3315 m

Ascent Trip Report

Backpacked up from the Boulders trailhead (5120') to Upper Bells reservoir (9400') with two other people, set up camp, then continued on up to the peak with day packs. This was the first time any of us had been higher than the falls in BC, and despite reading up on the hike we were surprised by how steep and rugged the terrain is up there.

From the West side of the lake there is a trail that goes South up the main draw to about 9800' where it ends at a big cairn. From there you can head left for the saddle to South Thunder, or right/straight to the saddle for Big Horn. Today we headed right, saving S. Thunder for tomorrow. On the way up we stayed pretty low (right) dropping down to the edge of the giant boulder field that fills the entire bowl below Lone and Big Horn. Once the saddle to the East of Big Horn is in view it's simply a matter of picking your route up to it. The East ridge looked quite daunting from the saddle, and having seen a picture that appeared to show a route around the South side of the peak below the ridge we headed that way. DON'T go that way. It is crumbly granite sand (slick), very steep and treacherous. After 30 minutes or so of wasted time we made our way back down and over to the ridge line. And although steep and rocky with some exposure it is doable at a YDS3 level. We had considered traversing the ridge up to Lone Peak, but after the long hike up with packs, our initially poor route finding, and the length and apparent difficulty of the traverse we decided to call it a day and head back down to the lake for some dinner.

The views from Big Horn were excellent, and we were able to make a plan for tomorrow's ascent of S. Thunder. We stayed a little higher on the way back to the lake instead of dropping all the way back to the edge of the boulder field. Both ways were fine, and I don't know that one was any easier or harder than the other.

I don't know exact mileage, but estimate it at around 6-7 miles from the trailhead to the peak, and 1.5-2.5 miles from the peak back to the lake. At nearly 6000' vertical gain on some really rough terrain it's not easy that's for sure.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5757 ft / 1754 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1477 ft / 450 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
    Weather:Weather was great, visibility lacking due to smoke in the air.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5757 ft / 1754 m
    Route:Bells canyon to East ridge
    Start Trailhead:Boulders trailhead  5120 ft / 1560 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1477 ft / 450 m
    Route:East ridge
    End Trailhead:Upper Bells Reservoir  9400 ft / 2865 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Upper Bells Canyon (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Big Horn2014-08-085757 ft / 1755 m
2South Thunder Mountain2014-08-091754 ft / 535 m
Total Trip Gain: 7511 ft / 2290 m    Total Trip Loss: 4781 ft / 1457 m

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