Zenfolio | Matthew Clay | Drywood Mountain, July 4, 2018
Visitors 22
74 photos

Distance: 24 km
Elevation gain: 1450 m
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Drywood Mountain has been on my radar for many years, but none of the published routes to its summit seemed right for Sandra and I. The standard Nugara route from the south appeared a bit too scrambly, the steep scree and final scramble to the summit of his/Spirko’s northern route looked pretty terrible too, and another route from the north by Calvin Damen involved a ton of nasty bushwhacking.

Recently, however, Alison scrambled up the standard southern route and gave me a ton of beta that made it sound possible for us, especially since we wouldn’t be descending the same way. Re-reading her report before we left I also noted that she believed a gully a bit further west of the standard route might provide an easy route to the summit. Her photo of the gully and photos I had of it from Loaf Mountain made it look quite straightforward, and so as we were leaving I was leaning in favor of trying this experimental route rather than the scramble route.

We arrived at the trailhead quite late in the morning and were frustrated to find that the approach road was closed due to “industrial activity”. Of course there was no activity other than the omnipresent oil and gas installations that litter the area so I’m not sure of the real reason for the road closure, but it meant our trip began and ended with a 4 km hike along a hot and dusty road. Travel was easy though and eventually we caught up to two girls who were on the “Drywood Mountain hike” they’d found on their phone app. They didn’t know where to go so I pointed them up the standard ascent gully and hoped they were more prepared than their canvas shoes suggested. Regardless, I deemed the risk of rockfall in the standard gully too great with two parties in it and so we made the easy decision to head for our alternate ascent route.

From below the standard gully we continued on the main trail for another 850 m or so until we spied the gully Alison had identified as a possible easy route to the summit. The rocky drainage intersected the trail here and we started hiking up it, shortly migrating to the grassy and mildly bushy slope to its left. We soon intersected an intermittent animal trail that led us onto dirt and scree as the gully narrowed. Travel was remarkably easy and routefinding very straightforward as we made our way up the gully.

The gully eventually opened onto a scree slope, but sheep trails and areas of stable rock meant there was nearly no treadmilling involved. We could’ve stayed on this scree almost all the way to the summit, but instead contoured to the north and easily made our way over stable bedrock, vegetation, and rubble to the summit ridge. From trail to ridge was nothing more than an off-trail hike or easy scramble. Thanks Alison!

We’d intersected the ridge about a kilometer from the summit and it was easy going over gently-angled terrain to within 100 meters or so of the summit. Things got a bit scrambly at this point, but with careful route selection we never felt exposed and only required our hands for balance.

The view from the summit was very nice and rapidly forming and moving low clouds kept it interesting. We had a quick lunch, signed the register, hoped the two girls from earlier that day weren’t stuck somewhere below us, and set out for the western summit, dubbed Loafwood Mountain by others.

Travel along the ridge was easy and the colorful rock and wildflowers made it an exceedingly pleasant trek. Hiking is generally wonderful in this area and this was no exception. It was long though, requiring 350 m of elevation gain and loss along the 4 km between the east and west summits.

We continued about 1.5 km past the western summit along the ridge, then started our descent to Bovin Lake. We were a bit unsure about where to head down, especially since I knew there were some minor cliff bands above the lake, but in the end our route involved nothing more than soft scree and very minor bushwhacking just before the lake. The lake itself was very beautiful, and it is becoming very popular now that the noise of OHV’s is gone. There were already 10 people camping at the lake and we met another two groups totaling about 15 heading in! This was on a Wednesday too.

The trip back out along the former OHV trail and then the gated road was a bit too long, but a good breeze kept the heat manageable. The entire trip took 9 hours, and that was with several breaks. Our route up the mountain is likely the easiest from any side and allows a hiker to tag both the east and west summits in one trip. Kudos to Alison for proposing the route!

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory:Outdoors
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Castle Wildland Provincial Park, Drywood Mountain, Loafwood Mountain, hiking, scrambling