Distance: 24.5 km
Elevation gain: 905 m View map Download GPS track
With a touchy avalanche situation this weekend I decided to play it safe with an ascent of Mount Quirk in the foothills west of Millarville. After a bit of indecision, Alison agreed to join me.
I certainly didn’t expect Mount Quirk to be an interesting ascent in any way. The route I’d mapped out involved at least 5 km of travel one-way along an ATV/snowmobile road before a long plod through presumably deep snow to reach the summit, but at less than 20 km round trip I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. When we arrived at the Fisher Creek Recreation Area shortly after 8 am, however, I was dismayed to discover that the winter gate was 3 km from the Fisher Creek trail where I’d assumed we’d be starting! I’m not usually this terrible when planning trips, but this area has vexed me before and today was apparently no exception.
With little fanfare we set out along the plowed road, making good time despite the undulating road and reaching the presumed trail head in about 30 minutes. The Fisher Creek trail had thankfully been packed by OHV’s and we were able to hike in the tire ruts the entire way to our ascent route along the southwest ridge of Mount Quirk. The highlight of the trip up to this point were the cougar tracks that repeatedly crossed the trail, but as they were a few days old they were of little concern.
The OHV trail continued north along the ridge and the going remained easy for another kilometer or so. When the tracks ended we continued along a narrower trail, breaking trail through crusty snow of variable depth. A nice, but heavily logged, view to the west opened up as we gained elevation and provided a much needed motivational boost.
We soon reached a western sub-summit of Mount Quirk, then after a short photo break we turned to the east and began a gentle descent. The true summit soon came into view and a short, steep hike later we were standing on its unusually pointy summit. It almost seemed to be man-made, potentially a century ago to assist in surveying the area. The view from the summit was quite respectable for such a lowly peak, and despite a cool wind we managed to eat lunch on the summit.
After lunch we decided to follow a trail that initially headed east along the summit ridge before turning to the south and descending to the Fisher Creek trail. While it seemed straightforward on the map it ended up involving a ton of strenuous trail breaking through deep snow and several annoying ups and downs. The snow ruts along the Fisher Creek trail further exhausted us, and it was a relief to finally reach the plowed, yet closed, main road where walking was finally easy.
I can’t exactly say that Mount Quirk is a nice outing, at least at this time of year, but it did get me outdoors on a day with problematic avalanche conditions. It also starts with the letter Q, meaning my alphabetical list of summits is now only missing X. So in summary, the two best things about Mount Quirk are that it is outside and starts with a rare letter. Exciting!