Hector, South Peak (attempt)
Judging by the widely spaced contour lines on the map, I thought this peak might be possible to ascend on snowshoes, but without a vantage point to observe it we didn't know what to expect. This unnamed peak is only two kilometres south of Mount Hector. It's probably overlooked since it cannot be seen easily from the highway and since Mount Hector overshadows all else in the area, but the South Peak is nearly 3000 m high!
I selected a likely place to start and set a waypoint where we would park. We set off up a wooded slope. The grade was gentler than I expected. The terrain varied so it wasn't a mindless slog and the trees weren't so thick you had to fight your way up. After about an hour and 15 minutes, the trees thinned and we could take in the views.
At this point we heard voices behind us. We were baffled. We were in a remote area far from any trail and we couldn't understand why anyone would follow someone's snowshoe tracks without knowing where they were going. Eventually five people came into view far below us. They were carrying snowboards! We never ran into them, however. After snowshoeing about 300 m in our tracks they rode down the gully and climbed up the other side where they did some more boarding.
We continued on and ascended above the treeline. Here it became too steep to snowshoe straight up, so we angled right. The grade eventually eased and the slopes became rolling hills. Our destination became obvious: a rocky prominence thrusting straight up from the slope.
The rock was steep and snow-covered but we managed to scramble up a short way before turning back, about 150 m short of the summit. Without helmets, ice axes and crampons it was imprudent to go on.
Postscript: Three years later, Andrew Nugara ascended Hector South (as he calls it) via the west ridge.
The South Peak seen from the highway. We turned back on the rock outcropping in the centre.
As the trees thinned we took in the views
We left the forest behind
Behind Dinah is the slope that the snowboarders would later climb up and ride down
We'll soon be above the treeline
Looking south at the lower south ridge
Much of the ridge here is broad
A solitary boulder provides a rest spot
After ascending 800 m we removed our snowshoes and climbed another 200 m on foot.
We headed to the point on the right to take a panorama before climbing the rock in the middle.
Mount Hector is far left.
Here the ridge narrows
We headed for the rocky ridge
False summit of the South Peak
The left side looked plausible to climb
After postholing in the snow on the lower slopes, we're among the rocks.
Hector Lake came into view
The rock became steeper as we climbed
It wasn't safe to continue without helmets and crampons so we turned back
On the lower slopes of the false summit after turning around
Heading back down
Dinah uses binoculars to look at the snowboarders (mouse over to see them). We returned
the following week and used their ascent tracks to start us up the South Ridge.
82 N/9 Hector Lake