The Gates massif is very handsome when viewed from the north.
Drive: From Revelstoke, Hwy 23 goes south down the west side of the Columbia River to the Shelter Bay Ferry 50km (31mi). Ferry goes to Galena Bay 6am to 2am.
48.6km 30.2mi Turn west on a logging road that accesses the road systems on the west side of Upper Arrow Lake.
From Shelter Bay Ferry. Drive 1.4km north and turn left (west).
0.0 Start on road that terminates at Coursier Lake – Dry Creek Road.
2.4km 1.5mi Turn right (north) on Dry Creek Rd, 90 degrees from Shelter Bay FSR, the main road that goes south down the west side of Arrow Lake.
4.5km 2.8mi Go left on Dry Ck Rd, go left of shacks. Stay on this main road.
8.8km 5.5mi Go straight. (left goes up Longsworth Road for Odin Creek)
13.0km 8.1mi Go left (south) for Coursier Lake. (right connects to Cranberry FSR)
14.2km 8.8mi Go straight on main road.
19.0km 11.8mi Go right (left connects to Killeen Rd off Longsworth Road for Odin Creek; washed out? Note this possible alternate.)
19.5km 12.1mi Go straight on main road (left for Thor Creek; washed out)
25.6km 15.9mi Turn left (west) to Pingston Lake. (straight continues to Coursier Lake). Continue on Branch 58 to TH to Pingston Lake Trail. (5kms, easy 2 hours return hike)
Approach to Avalanche Lake (lies in a high valley southeast of Cranberry Mountain).
From a camp near the end of the logging road to Pingston Lake (water), walk up the road and then trail to Pingston Lake. Continue on a game trail 100 meters, then turn sharply right up the hillside; the beginning of the trail is not well marked. Traverse at the 30 meter level above the north side of Pingston Lake to the base of a cascade at a wooded headwall, then cross the stream; the trail is beside the stream.
Above, on level ground, keep to the south side of the valley. As the valley narrows the trail is at the water’s edge (rough, alder and rock) until the bottom of the cirque. In the cirque, climb up and right partly on snow to the east end of Avalanche Valley. Camp at Avalanche Lake (1920m) after about 5 hours with heavy packs.
The trail is now badly washed out above the headwall as of 2001, by an avalanche and then a flood.
Access to the Gates Massif
1. Thor Creek Trail to Loony Leon Lake. Accesses the north side of the Gates massif.
Three km (1.9 miles) up the road from the Pingston Creek bridge, a road descends right to the bridge across Thor Creek on north side (now overgrown). Ascends the north fork of Thor Creek to a point about one km beyond the confluence.
Bushwhack up the headwall below the large lower lake (Loony Leon Lake) and pass around its north side. More open terrain leads to a good campsite near the upper lake below the glacier, about 9 hours from the road.
2. The route via the trail to Avalanche Lake is better for the north summit of Gates.
3.To Three Island Lake (175-090), near Gates Peak. Difficult bushwhack up the slide alder from the Rock Garden (189-079) at the head of South Thor Creek. Leon Blumer and the author wanted to climb a summit above the lake, and the going was so laborious that we only made the lake. A trail has been cut through the left side of the slide alder, but this trail is certainly overgrown. From Three Island Lake, go through the pass west of Three Island Lake to camp at the lakes west of the divide, south of Gates Peak.
GATES PEAK (North Summit) 2760m 9055′
The north summit is of both snow and rock.
1. Northeast Glacier. Take the trail to Avalanche Lake and camp at its east end. Ascend snow and Class 3 slabs to a pass on the ridge west of the minor west peak (2550m) of the Hughes massif. (There is a small frozen lake to the southwest.) Climb the minor peak and then descend its southwest ridge directly toward the north summit of Gates. At the base of the peak, ascend easy rock and snow in a diagonal line to the edge of the glacier. Follow snow and then easy rocks to the summit from the east.
Round trip 10 hours. Glacier (III,4,s).
Leon Blumer, Dan Robertson, August 23, 1981. Climbed in 2006. (CAJ 90(2007):141)
GATES PEAK (Central Summit) 2760m 9055′
The central summit is almost completely covered in snow and ice when viewed from the north. All three summits are on the watershed.
1. South Ridge. See the introduction and the 1981 traverse for access.
From camp at the lakes at the foot of the mountain and at the head of the north fork of Vigue Creek, climb the glacier and the long south ridge. Glacier (II,4,s). 1928.
2. Northeast Glacier, East Face. Take the trail (overgrown) part way up the north side of the north fork of Thor Creek, and camp at the big lower lake (Loony Leon Lake) after some bushwhacking. See Access to Gates Massif (above).
Go around its north shore (bush not so bad) and continue around the north shores of the two upper lakes in open terrain. Climb the glacier to a prominent knoll on the west side and ascend, next to the knoll, to a broad terrace on the glacier. Traverse south and up to gain the east snow face, which can be gained from the col, 5.5 hours to the top. Glacier (III,4,s).
Robert Heslop, Dan Robertson, 1/8/982.
A better approach was from Pingston Creek (see North Summit), but the trail may make the direct approach up the north fork of Thor Creek more favourable, when available.
3. North Side. Go down the snow from the summit (some of it steep), over the bergschrund, and traverse to Gates North. Ice, Glacier.
Doug Brown, Rene’ LeBel, Marvin Lloyd, Sandra McGuinness, July 24, 2006.
GATES PEAK (Southeast Summit) 2730m
The southeast summit is a blunt rock tower, with a pass to the east. Its lower eastern summit was climbed from the pass by the Kamloops Outdoor Club in 1968.
East Gates Peak (Gates IV, 8250feet, 2510m; 166-097), east of the southeast summit, was climbed (south ridge) in 2006 by Jane Weller. The 2006 group climbed the southwest slopes the next day, Class 2-3.
One may also approach from Three Island Lake (175-090) after backpacking up South Thor Creek to the Rock Garden (189-079), if the trail through the slide alder is open. The trail up the north side of (north) Thor Creek is certainly overgrown.
1. East Ridge, Traverse. Ascend the glacier north of the east ridge to the lower ridge (bergschrund; loose rock and ice); the east ridge itself is about Class 5.6. There are two or three rappels to the snow above the col on the west side of the peak. Ice, Glacier (III,5.6,s). Robert Bauman, Ron Blaue, 7/1988.
2. West Ridge. The rappel route on the west ridge. Two ropes found two different lines; three pitches of Class 5.6 to 5.7 with some loose rock.
David Jack, Sacha Kalabis, Delia Roberts and Jane Weller, 24/7/2006.
Camp was at the lakes south of Gates Peak.
3. South Ridge. A cliff band separating the upper and lower snowfields was passed on the left (on a “vertical meadow”, ice axes used, front pointing). A line on the left side of the south face intersects the south ridge in one and a half pitches.
Pitch 1. Climb clean slabs to two vertical cracks. Climb the left one, somewhat awkward, to a broken, steep corner. 50m, Class 5.6.
Pitch 2. Climb the awkward corner, or the face to the right; turn left onto a ramp (loose blocks above) that leads to the south ridge. 25m, Class 5.6.
Pitch 3. Good climbing up the crest of the south ridge. 40m, Class 5.3. Then fourth class to the top. (II,5.6,s).
Doug Brown, Rene’ LeBel, 25/7/2006.
4. South Face. Approach as for Route 3. Start in an obvious gray corner at the top of the snow.
Pitch 1. Climb the gray corner, Class 4.
Pitch 2. Ascend a large chimney-crack, Class 5.6.
Pitch 3. Move right over a roof and up a slab to the east ridge, Class 5.4. (II,5.6,s).
Marvin Lloyd, Sandra McGuinness, 25/7/2006.
To Three Island Lake and the Gates Massif: One way to Three Island Lake (175-090), near Gates Peak, a hard way, is by bushwhacking up the slide alder from the Rock Garden (189-079) at the head of South Thor Creek. Leon Blumer and the author wanted to climb a summit above the lake, and the going was so laborious that we only made the lake. A trail has been cut through the left side of the slide alder blocking the way to ThreeIsland Lake, but this trail is certainly overgrown.
The 2006 KMC climbing camp in the Gates area came in by helicopter.
UNNAMED 2590m (8500′)
Located east of Gates Peak, at 174-101. It is southwest of Hughes Peak and west of Loony Leon Lake (204-103).
Climbed by Richard, last name and route unknown, September 11, 2015.