A triangular area containing the group is outlined by the Spillimacheen River on the northeast, Bobbie Burns Creek on the southeast and the Beaver and Duncan Rivers (Purcell Trench) on the west.
The most popular spot is the summits forming the southern rim of Spillimacheen Glacier on the west end of the group. From there, a long ridge extends northeast toward the Columbia River. In the north, another long ridge parallels Beaver River, ending east of the Dawson Group in the Selkirks. The rock is sedimentary and metamorphic, and the ascents are relatively short.
Maps – 82N/3 Mount Wheeler, 82N/2 McMurdo and 82K/14 Westfall River.
B. C. Forests brochure, Revelstoke and Golden Forest Districts
Start from the town of Parson on Highway 95, southeast of Golden. Zero odometer.
0.0 Start on Spillimacheen River FSR.
17.2km 10.7mi Go northwest on the Spillimacheen River and cross it at km (16.5 miles; marked) from Parson to its southwest bank (see below) and continue northwest to McMurdo Creek and to near Silent Pass. (left fork goes south to Bobbie Burns and Vowell Creeks.)
From a camp at the pass, the summits at Spillimacheen Glacier are easily accessible. They can also be reached by trail to a camp (or the cabin) by the mine above the south fork of McMurdo Creek. The McMurdo Creek-Silent Pass route has also been used to access the Sugarloaf Group and the Battle Range.
If one is approaching from the southeast on Highway 95, one can turn left (west) onto this road system at the towns of Brisco (see Vermont Group) or Spillimacheen, but the drive is longer over inferior roads.
Duncan FSR (high clearance, four wheel drive at its end) goes up the Duncan River valley from Kootenay Lake, ending at the Glacier National Park boundary at Beaver-Duncan Pass, which begins by crossing to the east side of Duncan River just south of the town of Cooper Creek. Its end is adjacent to the Melville, Sugarloaf and Spillimacheen Groups. The distance to the Spillimacheen Group is well over 100 km from the pavement. See the Crystalline Group, access.
Backpacking to the Carbonate Group to the south is easy. Ascend the glacier, go over the glacial pass just east of David Peak and contour southwest on high alpine meadows to the head of Bobbie Burns Creek, to International Basin in the Carbonates just south of the head of the creek. It is a modest day’s pack.
An old mining road (now a trail) goes along the north side of Bobbie Burns Creek, below Spillimacheen Mountain, and another branches from Bobbie Burns Creek up Carbonate Creek in the Carbonate Group (another old road). Consult the Vermont Group for the Bobbie Burns road.
To McMurdo Creek, Silent Pass
Proceed from Parson, as for the North Fork road (access, above, or Dogtooth Group; also see the Vermont Group). Instead of crossing Spillimacheen River, stay on its northeast bank on the North Fork road.
26.6km (16.5 miles) from Parson, cross to the southwest bank (marked).
46.4km 28.8mi McMurdo Creek, and
56.6km 35.1mi Road’s end at the head of McMurdo Creek (high clearance, four wheel drive) under Silent Pass. From end of road, go SE left, directly north of the glacier, a mine and cabin is 600m more on foot.
McMurdo Creek cabin is on the north slope of the Spillimacheen Group, map 82N/3 Mount Wheeler (896-554). It sleeps 6 people; bring all gear. It is not an ACC cabin (250-342-5005; fee). If the cabin is full, one must camp nearby.
The McMurdo cabin was used in a summer regional traverse from the Bugaboos to Glacier (Rogers Pass). Consult also the Vermont Group for part of this traverse, reverse direction, and the Index of Regional Traverses and Hiking.
Drive up Spillimacheen River to McMurdo Creek, then go along the creek to the end of the road, high clearance, four wheel drive. (A right fork near the end goes to the Silent Pass trailhead.) Follow the trail 0.6 km to the cabin.
There is also a tiny hut located at 948-509 (map 82N/3) on Carbonate Creek (Carbonate Group), just before the two branches of the creek join (where the road crosses Carbonate Creek for a second time on the way down).