Distance: 21.5 km
Elevation gain: 1360 m (1200 without detour) View map Download GPS track
This past week Matt Hobbs of on-top.ca
contacted me to see if I'd be interested in doing a Friday scramble together. I certainly was interested, and after tossing around a few ideas we decided Morrowmount seemed like a reasonable objective. This is the unofficial name for the peak at the head of Jura Creek and as the highest in the general area it provides outstanding views in all directions. In addition to the summit views, we also figured the approach through Jura Creek canyon would add a bit of scenic variety to the trip and that the scree ascent slopes would be safe to ascend in the fresh wet snow.
We parked in the same spot (a ditch) as I had for Loder Peak
, then followed a dirt road to Jura Creek where we entered the narrow canyon of the creek. With no water in it today the going was easy, but had the creek been flowing I believe we could’ve used a bypass trail to the left, although with fancy footwork we might have be able to rock and log-hop our way through the canyon too. After a few hundred meters of narrow canyon the riverbed widened. We continued to follow the (typically dry) creekbed for a few more kilometers before we reached a series of pools in another narrow canyon, about 4 km from the car, then continued a further 5 km up the much wider upper creekbed to the point at which our ascent began.
What we didn't fully realize beforehand was what terrible shape the creek bed would be in as a result of the 2013 floods. It is, of course, one huge mess of rocky rubble from edge to edge! That's ankle-twisting, stumble-causing, river rock of all different sizes. We chatted a lot to pass the time over the 18 km
we walked on this, but it was still 18 km
of walking on rubble. While most of the length of the creek was dry, it was running near its source and with the fresh snow melting it was running much higher in the afternoon. This added to the "adventure", but there was an ample supply of good boulders (ha!) to use to hop across the creek when necessary.
Near the head of the creek we got a bit confused about where to ascend, even being a bit unsure which peak was actually Morrowmount, but after one short exploratory detour realized that the correct point to start the ascent was at the confluence of two creeks. See the photos for more detail, but the easiest way to recognize this point is from the huge slabby mountain the righthand creek flows down from and from the orange, dinner-plate shale scree between the two creeks. We ascended this orange scree, experiencing difficultly due only to the slippery covering of snow that hid the larger scree pieces and caused a few slips, and easily broke through a small cliff band poorly guarding the upper portion of the ascent. From here it was an easy, albeit tiring, slog to the summit.
Views from the summit were fantastic and the weather was great, but our 6 hour ascent time limited the amount of time we could spend up top, and so after a short refueling break we starting back down. This turned out to be far easier and more fun than I'd anticipated, for the upper slopes had enough snow that some limited plunge-stepping was possible while the lower steep slopes had lost nearly all their snow to reveal a fantastic 200 m scree ski run. All that remained was the 9 km rubble slog. Thankfully the snow had fully melted from the rocks and for a few short sections we were able to detour into the forest, and after 2.5 hours of rock hopping on tired legs we made it back to the car.