Distance: 13 km
Elevation gain: 1250 mView mapDownload GPS track
Noseeum Peak is an infrequently ascended peak near Mosquito Creek along the Icefields Parkway. It is a challenging ascent for a hiker that requires good routefinding skills, but the views from the top and the rocky environs around Noseeum Lake en route are more than sufficient reward for the effort.
The route begins at the pullout where Noseeum Creek (unsigned) crosses the Parkway. A decent trail ascends along the right (south) bank of the creek. Where it fades in places, stay close to the creek to find it again as it is never more than 10 m from the creek. After about 30 minutes the headwall guarding Noseeum Lake appears and the trail fades as the valley opens up into a large scree and boulder field. The route is obvious, but travel is annoyingly slow on the rounded river rocks.
The headwall has two cascades flowing down its face and looks exceedingly difficult to ascend, but a trail exists just to the left of the rightmost cascade. It is accessed via a very steep 3 m gully, but there are good hand and footholds to help you up. When the trail levels on a forested bench, turn left into the forest and head for another cascade just barely visible about 100 m away. Ascend through trees to the left of this cascade, following a noticeable trail. If you lose the trail, continue contouring to the left around the cliffy headwall and you'll pick it up again or the route will become obvious. At no point should you find yourself ascending rocky cliffs (unless you want to). My routefinding skills were not particularly good today and I led us up through the cliff via a series of ledges, which while obviously possible was not the safest nor most logical route (Keep this in mind if you download the GPS track. The more westerly route is the correct one).
After passing through a beautifully green and level meadow (look behind you for an awesome view of Molar glacier!), enter the western end of the basin. Noseeum Peak and its bumpy ridge loom before you to the north, Noseeum Lake, if not visible yet, lies to the right (east), and Molar glacier, sliding off Mt. Andromache, lies to the south. The environment here is absolutely stunning and is one of the most beautiful I've seen in the Rockies. It is worth the effort to visit here even if you're not planning on continuing to the peak.
To continue to Noseeum Peak, look for a narrow C-shaped scree chute northwest of the lake that continues to the summit ridge. The ascent is as simple as slogging up this slope and heading right to the summit. However, the scree on the upper slope is extremely unstable; we found better traction along the cliff to the left for the ascent and slid down the center scree for the descent. If you don't like loose scree, this is not an ascent for you. From the top of the scree chute turn right and head for the summit. It's about 200 m higher and 1 km distant, but it is a mess of loose, large rubble nearly the entire way. It took us over 45 minutes to cover the distance and it's somewhat miraculous neither of us sprained an ankle or fell (although my poles must've caught near 50 stumbles as rocks shifted under me). Picture walking on giant randomly piled Lego pieces for an idea of this part of the ascent.
Regardless, the views from the top are spectacular and a surprising number of glaciers can be seen in all directions, including some that I suspect are rarely seen. A summit register is located at the base of the large summit cairn and while it appears the annual number of ascents in increasing, this is still a rarely ascended peak.