Distance: 6 km
Elevation gain: 550 m View map Download GPS track
The ridge extending to the north from Mount Buller is a less popular snowshoe trip from Andrew Nugara's Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies
, largely due to the superior views offered from nearby Read's Tower
and Red Ridge
. We've done those, however, and so were looking for something new today. Being less popular than most trips we assumed we'd need to break a trail up the ridge, but the snowpack is currently uncharacteristically supportive and so we figured it wouldn't be too bad.
Nugara recommends starting the ascent about 2 km south of the Spray Lakes parking area, but we saw an old snowshoe track heading into the woods at a stream much closer to the parking lot. Despite being almost 2 km from the recommended starting point I realized that this track would intersect the new High Rockies Trail
after a few hundred meters and that we could follow that trail south, watching along the way for any track heading up. This plan worked perfectly and about a kilometer along the trail we came across just such a track, transforming our day from strenuous to easy!
The track led us up along the crest of a minor rib, contouring to the south closer to the top. The forest along here was fairly open and bushwhacking was light. The track ended about a kilometer from the summit and perhaps 150 m lower, but conditions were excellent for snowshoeing and we never found ourselves sinking too deep. The bush did get thicker, but we always found a way through.
The initial "summit" of the ridge was a small open bump that granted limited views in most directions. We'd planned to continue up the rocky ridge extending to Mount Buller, but it was clear from our vantage point that this would shortly involve ascending potentially dangerous avalanche areas. Coupled with a windchill of -30 C it was an easy decision to turn around and head back down instead. It wasn't exactly the most scenic of trips, but it was still a nice trip on a so-so weather day.