Ascent of Mount Harrison on 2017-08-25

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Friday, August 25, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Harrison
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:11024 ft / 3360 m

Ascent Trip Report

11 hour dayhike with traversing and scrambling on steep loose ground with significant exposure. A little bushwhacking near start of trail. A long dirt road access 100km+), mostly good for 2WD but the last 9km are more challenging, and at least the last 2.5km need high clearance.

Weds eve we attempt the western access but it is blocked at km 32 ie just after the White River campground bridge, due to wildfire. Thurs we climb Mt Fisher (a more suitable target as the morning proves cold and rainy). In the afternoon we find food and WiFi in Cranbrook, establishing that the southern access is still open, and spend about 3hrs on the Bull River Rd approach, good gravel road until the Harrison Creek turnoff (about at 99km, see GPS track), after which there are some rough sections, with 1 or 2 fairly deep drainage channels to cross. We park 2.5 km before the trailhead, just short of a deep bouldery drainage channel, which the RAV4 is unable to cross. Arriving at dusk we spend the night here ready for an early start.

Next morning we start at 0630, hiking the remaining 2.5km /0.5hr up the road, which is mostly good but with some serious obstacles as per Denise Mclellan TR - we find their description and GPS track very useful throughout the ascent. Fine views of Harrison ahead to our L, as the sun starts to rise and catches its top slopes.

The trail starts just before the main creek crossing, with red tape and a small cairn on RHS of road. It initially passes through a recent avalanche zone with all the trees flattened, fortunately in the direction of the trail, so progress isn't too hard, and much of the trail and red tape markers have survived. If in doubt, keep to the L (true R) bank of the creek where you can. Trail leads up thru woodland then more open terrain, eventually passing beneath tall blocky cliffs and reaching a small waterfall. We make a short scramble up L of the fall but the normal route crosses R under the waterfall then is mostly unmarked to the col directly above. It's possible to angle up to R and cut a corner (see GPS tracks) but probably easier, and better footing, to hit the col then turn L up crest for a short way. Great views. A lot of smoke rising from fire to N which impeded our road access, and we can smell smoke faintly on early part of ascent.

As per Mclellan TR, faint but distinct trail traverses R across a small basin, crosses a rib then a larger basin to a second rib. Here are cairns, with a short ascent along rib to continuation of traverse. There's not much marking, but a trail of sorts, crossing ground which at best is steep scree, but sometimes hardpan with little or no footing, and with sometimes serious exposure below. Crossing next rib, 4th basin is smaller but again some difficult exposed traversing. The scramble up to the last rib however we found quite easy, with a rubbly ledge climbing L to R with a little easy YDS3 at top.

Then rising traverse R across quite loose scree (no exposure) - the alternative, probably easier, is to head straight uphill until reaching a faint but useful trail (see GPS track) then heading R. Passing under a buttress the route turns L up steep gully: best footing is on series of easy scrambly ribs just to R with mostly good rock. Near top is a rappell sling for the return journey (if you've got this far you likely can find your way down without rappelling!). Above here we angle R, up scree and loose talus; just before summit ridge we encounter the cornice, icy but very short and we easily walk around it and up to the summit, which appears to be at the cairn, although the topo map favours the far end of the ridge, 20m further on. 5h50 ascent.

40mins on top enjoying views (distance a bit restricted by smoke of wildfires to N and S) and studying summit registers (8 ascents in 2016, about 6 so far this year with most recent a month ago).

We head down, initially navigating carefully to the top of the correct gully. Gully has some usable scree but mostly we find it best to downclimb the ribs, with a few obstacles to get around, a little tricky but the crux is clearly the traversing, which I don't like any better on the way back. The GPS tracks are a real help. To the north the White River wildfire seems to have really got going in today's strong breeze: big plumes of smoke rising.

Back at the ridge above the col, we take a direct line down on fairly stable scree, drop down L of the waterfall then follow the creek /trail back to the trailhead then the road to our vehicle, 4h30 descent. About 3hrs drive south along the Bull River route back to paved road just before dark; into Cranbrook for a motel.

Very pleased to get this peak, especially after the access issues. Not one I'll be returning to I think! Next is looking like an attempt on Mt Farnham, as the Assiniboine hut isn't contactable at the weekend and it seems camping outside the hut isn't allowed.

Harrison photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4659 ft / 1420 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4659 ft / 1420 m
    Distance:11.6 mi / 18.6 km
    Start Trailhead:6365 ft / 1940 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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