Panorama from our turn-around point

Whirlpool Ridge (partway)
David Thompson Highway, Alberta
July 19, 2008

Looking for new scenery Dinah and I headed to the David Thompson Highway area. Whirlpool Ridge looked like an attractive trip: after gaining the crest the book, David Thompson Highway: A Hiking Guide, suggests scramblers can continue the "ridge walk" to the north peak.

Information was sorely lacking, however. No GR was given for the high point that the hike reached nor could I find a GR for the summit. The NTS map didn't show a name for this ridge, or most other features in the area for that matter. Also the book indicates a maximum elevation of 2600 m for the hike, and this is clearly wrong (either that or the elevation gain is wrong). It looks to be around 2400 m.

We had a little trouble in finding the trailhead. We parked at a pullout on the south side of HWY 11 where a sign read “Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve.” From the west end of the pullout, we walked about 100 m west where we spied a small cairn. Behind it was a trail hidden in trees.

The trail quickly leads to a road. As per instructions, we followed the road to its end before setting off up the ridge where there were smatterings of a trail. After hiking along the semi-forested ridge we reached the rocky base of the south end of the ridge. We ascended rock mixed with scree until rock slabs forced us left. We then scrambled up scree and slabs to gain the ridge.

We hiked along the crest but a few scrambling sections slowed us down and required care. This was not the “ridge walk” that the book mentions! When we reached steep rock slabs before the centre peak, we decided to turn back. Going by the map, it appeared we were several hundred metres from the centre peak and over two kilometers from the north peak.

We retraced our steps back to the road where we noticed a faint trail. It appeared to be heading directly to our car so we decided to try it. The trail wasn't always easy to follow since it wasn't well-trodden, but we made it to our car in good time. It knocked off nearly a kilometre than if we had followed the road.

Although we didn't reach a summit and were frustrated by the poor information in the book, we had an enjoyable outing. We especially appreciated the scenery, all new to us. But I question whether there is a worthwhile scramble route to the north peak that can be done in reasonable time, if at all.

KLM Track

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)


Hiking up the road, Mount Wilson in the background (mouse over for a close up)


Mount Erasmus


Probably Mount Murchison in the background


We get a glimpse of Whirlpool Ridge


Unnamed peak


It takes time to reach the base of the mountain.


Taking a break


There were several small, localized burn areas like this one.


Close look at the south end of the ridge


Starting up the south end


Strong winds have deformed the trees.


Looking back along the ridge


Higher up, we hit slabs. I avoid the scree by taking to solid rock.


We hike along a ledge before resuming our ascent (mouse over for the reverse view).


We continue skirting around solid rock.


Siffleur Mountain centre left


I assume the summit, or North Peak, is on the left.


Mount William Booth


At times we had to leave the crest and ascend the slabs on our left.


But most of the ridge was a walk.


Regaining the ridge (mouse over for the reverse view)


The double peaks of Ernest Ross (left) and Kinglet Lake (mouse over for a closer look of the lake).


The colorful ridge in front of Ernest Ross is Tuff Puff.


The rock changes to orange.


As far as we got. The ridge immediately in front is exposed on both sides. It would be a walk but
I couldn't even crawl across it without losing my balance because of strong winds.


We dropped down but we decided not to waste time route-finding the section ahead.


Whirlpool Ridge from the road: we turned back just before orange high point in the centre.


83 C/1 White Rabbit


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