Distance: 9 km
Elevation gain: 1115 m View map Download GPS track
The second hike of our trip to the David Thompson corridor would also be the most technically difficult: An ascent of Mount Ernest Ross that involved a steep section of moderate scrambling near the top. Before we’d left for the trip I’d done a lot of research and was pretty sure I’d be fine with the scramble section, but the hit my confidence had taken after falling yesterday
had me doubting myself as we set out today.
We parked by the road on the north side of Bridge Creek, the unsigned small creek at the end of the southeast ridge of Mount Ernest Ross. There is a good place to park in the ditch, but use quite a bit of caution exiting the road as the drop from pavement to gravel is very high; the bottom of our truck scraped the pavement, so a more careful exit is certainly necessary with a car.
We picked up a good trail along the north bank of the creek before following a branch of the trail that headed steeply up the southeast ridge. I’d expected the trail to immediately gain the crest of the ridge and follow it to the top, but instead it clung to the northeast side for an unusually long time. In a few areas the trail came precariously close to some steep cliffs; hikers will find this exposed, but scramblers will likely not even perceive the exposure.
Eventually we reached the crest of the ridge, 300 m higher than where we’d started. The remainder of the ascent looked exceptionally steep from this vantage point, but in reality it was technically no more than a steep hike to a point about 100 m below the summit. Long sections were, however, very exposed to the sheer northeast face. Again, these sections would likely go unnoticed to experienced scramblers as it really was technically an easy hike, but Sandra and I chose an easy bushwhack well back from the edge rather than chance a fatal stumble.
After a couple hours of vigorous hiking we reached a beautiful plateau a short distance from the summit. The summit looked impossible from here and Sandra decided to wait while I gave it a go. As with most peaks, as I got closer the terrain started to look easier and I just followed the path of least resistance as I gained the final bit of elevation. About halfway up I had to do a tiny bit of easy scrambling on solid blocky bedrock, then just below the summit encountered the moderate scramble referenced in other reports. Thankfully it wasn’t exposed and had tons of excellent foot and/or hand holds on solid bedrock, and by going slowly and continuously looking back to be sure I could get down I managed to make it to the top relatively unafraid.
Upon cresting the summit the view exploded with Elliot Peak and Abraham Lake stealing the show to the north. The colorful rock of Two O’Clock Ridge
and other ridges and peaks surrounding it were similarly spectacular, and I spent a fair bit of time wandering around the spacious summit plateau taking it all in. I didn’t bother heading to the twin summit of Ernest Ross. It’s a loose upper-moderate scramble and the only reason to head to it would have been to say I did it, and that isn’t motivation for me.
The summit was perfect for lounging, but with Sandra waiting for me below I didn’t hang around long and instead made my way back to her. Descending the moderate section just below the summit was thankfully a non-issue, and after rejoining Sandra and having a leisurely lunch, picking up two ticks in the process, we made our way slowly back down. Despite a breeze the descent was absolutely sweltering, a theme that would hold for the remainder of the trip.