PEAK BAGGING for INTERMEDIATES PART IV
by Steve Horvath
from The Karabiner ’96 Vol. 30, Autumn 1996
One can hardly ask for a better place to practice the art of peak bagging than our local mountains. The many ridges of Kokanee with their relative ease of access and egress are just the things. One of the better ones is the ridge on the north side of Enterprise Creek.
Access is easy via the (steepish) Blue Grouse Basin trail. Once in the basin, you take a right turn and head up the meadows next to small waterfalls, to the basin below Insect Peak and Hampshire Mountain. From there head straight up to the summit of Insect Peak which is an easy scramble. More ambitious types can head up the short north ridge. The view from the top is lovely, though it is a bit of a mystery why this viewpoint justifies the “peak” designation. It seems to be not much more than a sub-peak of Hampshire Mountain, as one can see from the summit of Insect Peak.
The way to the top of Hampshire Mountain is a bit more of a challenge. Its west ridge seems to offer enough technical climbing to slow one down to the point where doing a full traverse (all four peaks) would even take Konrad Kain a rather long day. The best course of action is to go, look, and see. The bottom part of the ridge can be passed through fairly easily by following ubiquitous goat trails. Once the ridge steepens, follow the goat trail to the right and make your way to the summit via the south face. This offers pleasant course finding challenges caused by certain differences between the anatomy and psychological approach to climbing between the two species.
Once on the summit the view is nothing short of spectacular. One can look straight into Kokanee Glacier, turning around, look into Mulvey Basin and The Devils Group. The amount of snow and ice one can see, especially earlier on in the season, is impressive. It can also be a bit confusing, especially when one contemplates the way ahead, which fortunately turns out straightforward.
Down the comfortable southeast ridge and up the west face of Mount Retallack, then down to Granite Knob (a knob indeed, Insect Peak and Granite Knob were probably named from the valley bottom). From Granite Knob, you traverse the alpine meadows on its south slopes angling southeast to Tanal Lake to intercept the Enterprise Pass trail. The trail can be tricky to find, previous trips to the pass are definitely an asset.
This is a very long and strenuous day in a remote place; aspiring peak-baggers should not make a mistake of underestimating the potential for costly screw ups. If one runs into route finding problems on Hampshire Mountain and its summit is reached after lunch, it may be prudent to turn back.
Ice axes are definitely an asset, especially earlier in the season (July). Still, four summits in just one day are a tempting proposition.