Thursday, 1 October 2015

Sept 30: A nameless place (with the name Nameless)

It was a spectacular summer day, except it's fall. We decided to visit the oxymoronically named Nameless Col, and climb Nameless Ridge. For the record, it has a name so is not nameless, but its name is Nameless. If that makes sense.

The hike starts with a fairly steep 3 km grunt up through a pretty and mossy forest, in which we saw a pine martin (running too fast to photograph) and a spruce grouse.
Trying to be invisible
After climbing 200 m through the forest, you break out into a wide open meadow and spend the rest of the day above treeline or out of trees.
South flanks of Mist Mountain 
Nameless Ridge. We'll be up there later
from this point, it's still a steady slog for another 2 km and another 275 m up through the meadow to Nameless Col.
About halfway through the meadow 
Nearing the top. Odlum Ridge in the background
We were startled on the way up when we surprised a Blue Grouse, and it fluttered out of its hiding hole. Spruce Grouse we see a lot; Blue Grouse are kind of rare.
Statue imitations
Once you make the col, the views of Mist Mountain show up, as do views to the north and east. You also get killer views south towards Plateau and Mt. Burke. Other mountains I could pick out included Banded Peak, Gibralter and others.
Mist in all its glory 
Plateau with Mt. Burke on the left 
Northeast over Mist Ridge
Mist has a hot spring on its side. The water's 33° and most people have no idea that K-Country has a hot spring, much less where it is. Well, this is the spring as seen from the col.
Colourful algae lead the way
I was hoping to get to the spring. There are two ways across; you can descend down 180 m into the valley, then climb 160 m back up (repeating that feat to get back), or you can traverse across losing all of 60 m. Neither way is long (800 m to 1.1 km) We opted to try the traverse.

We had trouble finding the traverse route's start; when we did, we were 10 m below the weak trail. We climbed up to it (you can see it in the photo below), crossed a draw that still had snow in it, then had to cross a scree slope. I was in the lead, with Karen behind. About 20 m into the scree, the whole slope started moving, taking me with it. I moved downhill about 2-3 m, while trying to move out of the flowing rocks. The sliding scree at my level loosed much larger rocks from above, and suddenly I was being passed by rolling and sliding rocks the size of microwaves. I moved fast enough to get out of the moving rock, but every pole plant started more sliding.

I finally got to more stable scree, and looked back at Karen 20 m away.
Most everything between me and her slid
Karen wasn't willing to cross it. I didn't blame her. So I went back across and the same thing happened. I would plant a pole which would start a rockslide, which would release larger rocks from above, and they would bounce past me. I finally just basically ran across the sliding rocks, as they slid and clattered around me. Try running across a 35° unstable scree slope. Tons of fun.

Being as close to the hot spring as I was going to get, I got one more picture.
The spring is obvious. People have built two pools at the top
Here's how far we didn't get into that scree.
To the middle of the first rockfall
Ah well, it was time to climb. We wanted to walk Nameless Ridge, so climbed 225 m from the sliding scree straight up the ridge. It wasn't a hard climb, just tedious. And the views from the top were amazing.
Looking south down the ridge 
Karen makes the last rocks. Mist sticks up 
Looking north. Banded Peak in the middle 
Looking southwest towards the Divide & Mt. Odlum 
Looking straight up the range. Mt. Rae is up there
The next 2.5 km was just walking south down the ridge on its top, undulating over a few high points along the way.
South from Peak 1. Peak 2 on left. Odlum Ridge across the valley 
North from Peak 2. Nameless Col on left 
South from Peak 2 
South from Peak 3 
Mist Ridge from Peak 3. The larches are almost spent 
Approaching Peak 4
We saw 2 horses and their riders on the top of Mist Ridge. I pity that the horses have to come down from there.

On Nameless Ridge, you just follow the ridge crest, so there's no trail. A trail was supposed to show up near Peak 4 but we never found it. And the trouble is the slope just keeps on getting steeper and steeper. The guidebook suggested to just keep following the ridge crest down. At Peak 4, though, the ridge crest sort of splits (it doesn't, actually; what look like ridges are just the tops of gullies on the southwest face). We were supposed to keep following the left ridge crest.
The left crest 
The middle gully top crest 
Across the slope looking east to show you the grade
From the 4th peak, we could see straight below us on the gully crest a really good game trail traversing down the gully of the right crest. It looked FAR easier than staying on the left crest, which farther down was getting very steep indeed.
The left crest. Notice it just rolls over.
In addition, following the left crest would have put us 2.5 km from our car. Staying right struck us as being smart.

So we ignored the guidebook and headed down the right gully crest. The going was steep but with good footing. We had to get through a rock band or two, but they were easy to sort out. We got to an obvious flat that was a bedroom for either deer, elk or sheep. Poop all over, bedding down spots in the grass, and the game trail that's hundred of years old heads down from it.
The trail cutting down to the left
The trail traversed a big draw and was really easy to follow until it petered out on the next ridge.
At the start of the game trail. You can see it on the other side of the draw
Once on the other side, we were only about 300 m from the start of the forest, and only about 50 m above it. It was easy to take a bee-line to the road, picking up game trails from time to time. Here's some Google Earth images of the descent route.
The "correct" route stays on the ridge on the right 
The traverse we used to cross the gully is obvious
We popped out of the forest not 2.5 km from our car, but only 600 m from it.

We stopped at the Mt. Lipset parking lot for a good view back of the ridge descent.
Peak 3, Peak 4, and the last bump
Zoomed in from the bump down 
Zoomed even more for the lower section 
Same picture but with the route annotated
I would have liked to have made the hot spring, but as it was we were out for 5 ½ hrs, covering 13 km with 720 m of climbing. Getting to the hot spring by the down/up route would have added 360 m of climbing and another couple of kilometres, meaning a MUCH longer day. If the traverse was viable, we could have done it, but I just found it way too dangerous to attempt.

By the way, I would never ascend the route we descended. For starters, it would be nigh on impossible to find. For second, from treeline, it looks like this:
Go straight up this to the knob in the centre, then traverse

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