Distance: 13 km
Elevation gain: 1150 m View map Download GPS track
With a bit of flexibility in my summer work schedule I was planning to get out on Thursday, the best-weather day of the week, to do a somewhat boring solo scramble up a popular peak, most likely the Rimwall. I was thus thrilled when Matt Hobbs
contacted me to see if I'd be interested in joining him on a scramble up the far more interesting and scenic Boom Mountain. He was a bit surprised that I was so eager to commit to a peak whose trailless approach involves nearly 5 km of bushwhacking, but to me that's just classic Type II fun
. To make the most of the day and avoid any afternoon showers we left the city at 5:30 am, arriving at the base of Boom Mountain at 7:30.
On the way out we were a bit unsure about where to park, but it turned out that the Continental Divide rest stop, complete with more than ample parking, was directly across the highway (93 south) from the ascent drainage. From here we headed into the forest on the right (east) side of the raging creek, making our way along vegetated gravel flats and through moderately open forest. After a few hundred meters of easy travel the forest thickened, deadfall increased, and the true bushwhack began. We followed the path of least resistance, but avoided moving too far from the creek knowing that heading up the slopes of Boom Mountain too early was of no benefit. While we did take a rather circuitous route around deadfall and a few boggy areas, the bushwhack wasn't all that bad and we arrived at the base of our ascent avalanche slope after just 2 hours at a leisurely pace.
There are several avalanche slopes and gullies near the southwestern break in the cliffs that guard the summit. We chose to ascend one a bit further east than other parties simply because it was grassy and open, but knew that we'd need to do a bit of sidehilling higher up to get to the point where an ascent onto the summit plateau was possible. While steep, the ascent up the avalanche slope was without difficulty, and the sidehill traverse across 2 gullies and a few minor treed ribs wasn't much of an issue either. At the top of the westernmost gully we were faced with picking our way through the crumbled cliff band guarding the summit plateau. I'd been a bit worried about the level of scrambling skill required here, but it turned out to be no more difficult, and perhaps even a tad easier, than the final ascent of EEOR
Once through this final obstacle we found ourselves on the enormous summit plateau. A minor false summit gently rose nearly a kilometer to the east, hiding the true summit an easy 100 m further. The hiking was now wonderfully pleasant and the spectacular views erased any trace of annoyance with the bushwhack and rubble slog. After taking hundreds of summit photos we explored a bit further east along the plateau, then headed back down the way we came, stopping frequently for photos as the rapidly moving clouds changed the lighting. Boom Lake, 800 m below, was particularly stunning, as were the huge cornices hanging off the north side. It was a bit windy, but we managed a 90 minute summit stay.
Descending through the rubble and gullies the way we came up was easier than expected, but instead of randomly bushwhacking down the valley we stuck close to the stream at its center. While a bit boggy and bushy this worked remarkably well and it took us just 80 minutes to get from the base of the avalanche slope to the car, giving us a round trip time of under 9 hours. Great views and great company made for a great day!