Distance: 13 km
Elevation gain: 1390 m View map Download GPS track
We awoke this morning to a sunny and smoky sky. It wasn’t bad enough that I was worried about breathing – it was likely no worse than normal city air, and probably better – and so we decided to hike up Mount Andromache, a large mountain looming above the Mosquito Creek campground where we were staying.
Our day started at a creek a short distance south of the campground and at the base of Mount Andromache. We geared up, crossed the creek, and briefly started hiking up alongside it. Something felt off, however, and a quick check of the map on my GPS revealed that we were in fact hiking along Noseeum Creek, not Hector Creek as we should have been! Noseeum Creek could’ve lead to the summit of Andromache too, but the route that way is more difficult and not one we wanted to try.
We returned to the truck and drove a bit further south along the parkway to reach Hector Creek and started hiking up its south shore on excellent and obvious trail. At the crux upper waterfall we took the hiker’s route as we did when we scrambled up Little Hector
in 2015, then continued onward towards the hazy environs of Hector Pass.
We followed the trail to the top of the second headwall, after which we wandered along easy terrain to a point just below the pass where the cliff bands of Andromache had crumbled away. We turned and started up the steep slope at this point, moving towards a small gully with a bit of snow as we gained elevation. Other than some annoyingly loose rubble, the going was easy to a small plateau about 250 m higher than where we’d left the pass.
A large family of young ptarmigan greeted us on this rocky plateau and their chirping kept us company as we made our way over rubble to a second steep slog, this one being about 150 m high. The rubble was larger and hence a bit more stable here, but we still had to be careful as some big rocks would unexpectedly shift as we hopped onto them.
At the top of this second scramble we reached a much larger plateau from which the eastern summit of Andromache rose. Gaining this summit was the crux of the trip as the rubble was terribly unstable, but it was technically nothing more than an easy scramble. We were, however, greatly relieved to reach the top, and after breaking for lunch we continued to the western summit of Andromache, about 1.4 km distant.
The traverse between the two summits was easy and the snow had sufficiently melted from the western summit that we were able to ascend it without getting uncomfortably close to the cliffs on the southwestern side or doing something silly like walking on the glacier on the northeastern side. While the distant views from the top were marred by smoke, the best sights – namely Mounts Hector and Balfour, Hector and Bow Lakes, and the Noseeum basin – were all sufficiently close that the smoke wasn’t really an issue. We spent a lot of time on the summit relaxing and reading through the register. I’d thought this was a popular mountain, but only a few parties per month seem to sign the register.
Which of the two summits – east or west – is the “real” summit seems to be a bit of a mystery. Several reports identify the eastern summit as being the higher of the two and call it “Unnamed Peak”, yet label the lower western summit as the true summit, but my GPS clearly indicated the western summit was higher than the eastern. As we returned over the eastern summit I was able to verify its elevation too, so I’m not sure whose GPS is correct. I suppose it’s a silly question anyway, given that the mountain is unofficially named, but I am curious nonetheless.
On descent we retraced our steps with the exception of utilizing snow wherever possible. A few weeks earlier I imagine there would’ve been a few spectacular glissades (and a corresponding covering of loads of nasty rubble), but today all we got was a short bum slide and a few sections of easy plunge-stepping.