Ascent of Upper Saddle Mountain on 2017-08-20

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Greg Slayden -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Sunday, August 20, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Upper Saddle Mountain
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:7644 ft / 2329 m

Ascent Trip Report

A fine multi summitted ridge, with a little scrambling and some traversing of loose steep terrain. 8h30 day hike for the two main peaks, including copious rest time. Access to trailhead needs 4wd.

After my Pinnacles climb, Greg and I meet in the queue for the Needles ferry - thanks to a nice piece of telepathy on Greg's part!

The Needles ferry operates from 5:15 am to 9:45 pm and is free of charge. The ferry to the north, Arrow Ferry, operates similarly early /late (5 am til 9:20 pm) but doesn't run at lunchtime between 12:15 and 2:15. We drive via highway 6 and the Arrow ferry to the steep rough dirt road leading to the Upper Saddle trailhead. Our AWDs make it but it would be pretty much impossible in normal clearance 2wd. The worst road I've driven yet on this trip (Birkenhead much steeper but smoother). We cook dinner and are in our sleeping bags by 10 pm

We start hiking at 0615: easy trail up thru woodland; we find Edward's gully as per previous reports: pretty easy descent with trees for additional handholds, then the traverse L below cliffs is straightforward (best not to stay too high), cross a minor top, descend on rough steep ground to a low saddle (I tumble on a loose rock and sprain a thumb - actually a fracture as I discover 10 days later) then make an ascending traverse R to a stony saddle, then a steep grassy climb L to another top (cairn), make a short steep descent (YDS2+) then cross a nice sharp arete (moderate exposure) and finally make an easy ascent to the summit (no marker) which has the remains of a structure (bases of 6 reinforced concrete pillars) a few metres away.

NW of the summit is a lookout tower. BC Topo map shows a zigzag track coming up from the SW suggesting a possibly more direct route to the summit. We glimpse a trace of a very rough looking track in the trees; OpenStreetMap shows a road which ends at 950m elevation. Assuming this is a driveable forest road, it appears there may be an alternative, less complex route, albeit with possibly an extra 500m ascent (offset by avoiding the ups and downs of Edward's route).

We head back along the ridge, back up Edward's gully and follow the tourist trail (cairned across a talus slope) to Saddle Mountain topped by the freshly white painted lookout perched in a superb situation. Half a dozen local hikers are there; we sit inside the beautifully refurbished lookout and chat awhile. They report having seen a grizzly bear among the huckleberry bushes on the way up.

Our round trip time is 8h15 with 3h45 to the main peak and about 40mins break at each of the two summits.

We take a motel in Nelson for a couple of nights with a draft plan for Cond and Kootenay for the next two days.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2886 ft / 879 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2886 ft / 879 m
    Distance:9.6 mi / 15.5 km
    Start Trailhead:4758 ft / 1450 m
    Time:3 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes

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