Grouped here are all the peaks S of Horsethief Creek, E of its tributrary, Farnham Creek, and N and NW of Toby Creek and its N fork, Jumbo Creek. All peaks of this group lie E of the main Purcell watershed. In the limited watershed of Farnham Creek rises the greatest concentration of lofty summits in the Interior Ranges, Mt Farnham and its several 11,000′ satellites. Mt Nelson may be the peak so named by David Thompson in 1807, while Farnham Tower may be the “Thumb” seen from Mt Sugarloaf in the Selkirks by Forster, Huber and Topham in 1890. The rock in the area is very variable in quality, primarily friable sediments, but there are isolated outcrops of firmer material, as for example, the limestone cap of Mt Nelson.
ACCESS. Ascents in this area are facilitated by trunk roads in both the Horsethief and Toby valleys (above), the points of departure being Radium or Invermere in the Columbia Valley. The highest peaks of this group and much of the Commander Group are most readily accessible from Farnham Creek, where old cabins are situated at the junction of the stream from Commander Glacier (ACC camp site in 1971 and 1975).
A mining road exists on Farnham Creek, extending beyond the Commander junction, as far as the Phoenix Mine near the headwaters. Roads or trails have also existed from time to time in lower branches of Horsethief Creek, e.g., Bruce, Law, Gopher and MacDonald Creeks, all S tributaries. In particular, a good logging road on MacDonald Creek was passable in 1976 to the E base of Mt Farnham. The current status of all but the main- trunk roads in this area depends on the vagaries of logging and mining operations, so it is wise to check at the sawmill in Radium and/or the BC Forest Service in Invermere.
Access from the E and S is gained by major N tributaries of Toby Creek. The now abandoned Paradise Mine is located approximately 4 mi up Springs Creek at 7500′, the starting point for ascents of Mt Nelson. The upper valley of Bruce Creek is most easily reached also from the Paradise Mine by crossing the divide (8600) at the head of Springs Creek, one mi E of Mt Trafalgar.
About 16 mi along the Toby Creek road, a poor logging road diverges right just before the bridge over Delphine Creek and goes up that stream approximately 4 mi to where the N fork enters. Continue another mile toward the head of the valley, then bushwhack NW to reach a terrace above a large waterfall. Continue on to a broad alpine meadow in tamarack, offering numerous good campsites. Passenger cars may be taken sev eral miles up Jumbo Creek (N fork of Toby Creek), from which mining roads give access to summits in the vicinity of Monu ment Peak.
Maps: 82K/9W, 82K/8W, 82K/7E.
MT JOHNSTON 3094m 10150′
At N end of ridge extending N from Mt Farnham; 3 mi ENE of mouth of Farnham Creek.
From camp at 5600′ on MacDonald Creek follow the E ridge throughout, avoiding difficulties to the S. 9 hr up. Descend by a couloir on SE face; 4 hr.
FA B. Brownell, D. J. Forbes, A. Larson, 6/1973
MT MEDEN-AGAN 3295m 10810′
2 mi N of Mt Farnham.
From camp one mi up Farnham Creek, follow E tributary stream to high basin between objective and Mt Atlung. Contour E at 9000′ level and then scramble up easy talus of SW slopes. Ascent 6½ hr.
FA F. Knight, C. Wagner, M. Wilson, 8/1971
MT ATLUNG 3234m 10610′
One mi NW of Mt Farnham.
From camp on Farnham Creek, gain basin just S of peak and ascend easily along E side of S slopes.
FA Jul 1971, J. Christian, D. Jones, L. Gallagher.
FARNHAM TOWER 3353m 11002′
Striking molar-shaped tower at N end of Farnham massif.
1. S Face. Follow Route 1 for Mt Farnham (which see) to the notch in the main ridge S of the Tower, there turning N and reaching the foot of the S face of the Tower. Ascend a series of broken chimnevs trending W to the highest point. Ascent from camp at base ‘of NE shoulder, 7 hr.
FA A. H. & E. L. MacCarthy, C. Kain, 8/1914
2. E Face. Ascend NE shoulder of Farnham massif to E base of Tower, as in Route 1 for Mt Farnham (which see). The route then follows the obvi ous chimney sundering the face. The first two pitches involve direct aid, the difficulties thereafter lessening.
V. Germann, F. Stark, 8/1956
MT FARNAM 3468m 11378′
Highest peak in Purcell Range; 4½ mi S of Horsethief Creek.
1. NE/N Ridge. From valley of MacDonald Creek, ascend to base ofNE shoulder coming down from Farnham Tower, which forms the initial line of ascent (3 hr). Good campsite at timberline (7200) at base of shoulder. Climb the ridge directly to the E base of the Tower (10100; 4 hr). Traverse below the Tower along a band of treacherous red shale to a huge cave, then ascend an icy couloir to gain the main N ridge at the second notch S of the Tower (1 hr). Follow the ridge S toward the summit, passing a major step by an exposed traverse on the W to regain the crest beyond (10850). Climb two final cliffs to reach the summit (4½ hr). Ascent from base of NE shoulder, 9½ hr; from valley, 12½ hr. (CAJ 6-112, marked photos). A classic route.
FA A. H. & E. L. Maccarthy, C. Kain, 8/1914
2. West Face. This is the normal route, though not a very interesting one. From camp on Farnham Creek, gain the great SW cirque of the mountain. The route goes almost straight up the face, passing S of the small hanging glacier and reaching the broken summit crest S of the highest point. As cent 8½ hr, descent 5 hr.
R. Bibby, G. Gambs, H. S. Hall, Hoag, W. Maclaren, P. Prescott, M. Thompson, H. Ulrichs, Feuz, Jr., W. Feuz, 7/1928
3. S Ridge. From Farnham Creek, ascend into the great SW cirque and continue up bro ken rock to the end of the long S ridge. Follow the ridge to the first of three gendarmes (llOOO) which is climbed following a traverse onto its W face. Continue over the other two gen darmes to the top. More interesting and safer then Route 2. Ascent 8 hr.
A. Read, R. C. West, 8/1954
MT HAMMOND (Sir Charles) 3368m 11050′
Double summit (N higher) immediately W of Mt Farnham.
1. W slopes. From camp on Farnham Creek via W slopes. A nasty gap separates the S from the N summit. A dull and deadly slog.
FA C. D. Ellis, W. C. Phelps, 7/1913
2. S Ridge. Gain hanging valley between objective and Mt Peter (Farnham SW cirque) from Farnham Creek (2 hr). Then follow S ridge (rotten rock) except for a traverse to E face just below summit tower. Ascent 7½ hr (CAJ 38-68).
P. Luster, J. Noxon, A. Read, M. & R. C. West, 8/1954.
MT PETER 3338m 10950′
One mi S of Mt Farnham.
From Farnham Creek, ascend W slopes over shale and broken rock until a chimney (loose rock) gives access to a ridge above the W cliffs, which is subsequently taken to the top.
FA A.H. & E. L. MacCarthy, B. Schultz, W. E. Stone, C. Kain, 8/1915
DELPHINE MT 3399m 11150′
At head of MacDonald Creek; E buttress of Peter Pass (9400, Farnham to McDonald Creek); along with Mt Peter, Spearhead Peak and Mt McCoubrey encloses huge basin just E of forks of Farnham Creek.
1. NW ridge. Follow MacDonald Creek to its head below objective, working through headwall to left of the waterfall to reach N basin. Turn right, ascending W into glacial cirque between Mts Farnham and Peter and gaining Peter Pass over steep snow. Descend Sa few hundred feet and then climb snow slopes on W flank of NW ridge, which is briefly followed to the top. 7 hr from camp at 6200′ E of Mt Farnham.
FA A. A. McCoubrey, E. Feuz, Jr., 1914, perhaps by the NW ridge, as here described.
2. E Ridge. Take Route 1 into the Delphine N basin, then ascend steep snow below E bounding ridge to saddle on main E ridge (9800, 4 hr). Continue along the ridge: broad, nearly level sections of snow interspersed with short rock steps. Two tottering towers are passed on the S (troublesome), the final corniced ridge being regained shortly beyond. Ascent 8 hr; a good old-style route.
D. P. & I. A. Richards, 9/1944
(Note: The 1944 party approached from the valley of Bruce Creek over the 9100′ pass at its head and then over the SE glacier; not recommended because of its inordinate length. The SE glacier and thereby the E ridge may also be reached by way of the N fork of Delphine·Creek.)
3. S Ridge. From camp near forks of Farnham Creek, bushwhack into great basin W of objective. Cross to prominent buttress extending W at right angles to the main S ridge. Reach the crest of the buttress by a loose chimney, following it to a minor point (10650) on the ridge connecting Delphine and Spearhead (5½ hr). Climb N along ridge (clefts and gendarmes) to the peak in I½ hr more. Ascent 7 hr.
H. 0. Frind, A. H. & E. L. MacCar thy, W. E. Stone, C. Kain, 8/1915
(Note: The MacCarthy party subsequently traversed S over Spearhead Peak and Mt McCoubrey (which see). This circuit is one of the more interesting climbs in the district. RT 15 hr.)
SPEARHEAD PEAK 3126m 10550′
One mi S of Delphine Mtn; name displaced 1/5 mi N on 82K/8.
1. Traverse N-SW. Follow ridge connecting to Delphine Mtn. The final 100′ of this ridge is very narrow, with loose rock. From summit of Delphine, 2 hr. Continue traverse by
descending abrupt benches of SW ridge to Spearhead – McCoubrey col (9700). Descent 2½ hr.
FA MacCarthy party (see Delphine, Rte 3), 8/1915
2. SE Ridge.From col between Spearhead and Unnamed (10050), the long ridge is taken to the top in 2 hr.
F. DeRose, L. Meyers, A. Larson, 8/1974
UNNAMED 3063m 10050′
2 mi SSE of Mt Delphine; E of lake (Shamrock) at NW head of Delphine Creek.
From Shamrock Lake via easy NW slopes in 2½ hr.
FRA Larson party (see Spearhead, Rte 2), 8/1974
MT McCOUBREY (Peacock) 3216m 10550′
Attractive snow peak 2 mi S of Mt Peter across large basin enclosed also by Delphine Mtn and Spearhead Peak.
1. Traverse NE-SW. Via the NE ridge from the Spearhead McCoubrey col in 1½ hr. Halfuray up the ridge a narrow icy couloir must be crossed, above which an easy snow slope leads to the top. Complete traverse by descending easy SW snow slopes to near head of Farnham Creek, 1 mi upstream from forks; 1 hr.
FA Aug 1915, MacCarthy party (see Delphine, Rte 3).
2. S Ridge. Aug 1974, Larson party (see Spearhead, Rte 2). Along the connecting ridge from Unnamed (10250) m in 1/2 hr.
UNNAMED 3124m 10250′
S peak of Mt McCoubrey.
From on upper Delphine Creek to col between objective and Black Diamond Mt thereafter following the S ridge with occasional traverses on W slopes. Ascent 4 hr.
FA Larson party (see Spearhead, Rte 2), 8/1974
RED LINE PEAK 3216m 10550′
At head of Red Line Creek, the east fork of McDonald Creek, 2 mi E of Delphine Mt. FA unknown.
2. NE Approach. From camp on Red Line Creek, climb small glacier on N face of peak to E ridge, which is easily followed to the summit. Variations possible.
Jul 1960, A. & C. Maki, R. C. West, 7/ 1960
MT SLADE (Boulder Peak) 3218m 10558′
Double peak visible from Lake Washington, 2 1/2 mi N across Bruce Creek from Mt Nelson; highest point on long NE ridge separating Bruce and Law Creeks.
FA 1914, A. A. McCoubrey, E. Feuz, Jr. No details.
MT CATHERINE 3124m 10250′
Between heads of Bruce Creek and N fork of Delphme Creek 2½ mi SE of Delphine Mtn.
From camp on N fork of Delphine Creek via W slopes.
FA G. D. Emerson, E. W. Harnden. 7/1911,
2. Traverse. From summit of Sultana Peak (which see) by way of intervening ridge, passing over intermediate summit (Fatima, 10150). Descend with moderate difficulty NW ridge leading to pass (9100) at head of Bruce Creek.
D. P. & I. A. Richards, 9/1944
SULTANA PEAK 3185m 10450′
One mi W of Mt Nelson.
1. From camp at WhiteCat Mine on Bruce Creek ascend to the Nelson-Sultana col. Then follow the e ridge of Sultana, first over a short section with gendarmes, then across a level snowfield to a rock wall where the easiest lines are to the left. Above, a sharp crest leads to the top. Traverse can be continued W to Mt Catherine.
FA Sep 1944, D. P. & I. A. Richards.
MT NELSON (Hammond) 3294m 10807′
Major peak visible from Lake Windermere; between heads of Bruce and Clearwater Creeks, overlooking Delphine Creek to the S.
1. From Paradise Mine at head of Springs Creek, reach the crest of long ridge extending ENE from Mt Nelson, then contour on S slopes of ridge, above Clearwater Creek, to small lake at head of valley (2½ hr). Ascend directly S of lake to low saddle in S ridge of objective. Climb N along easy ridge (variations possible) to summit crown of firm limestone, which is most easily surmounted by the easternmost of three V-shaped gullies (4½ hr). 12 hr RT from camp at mine.
FA C. D. Ellis, alone. 9/1910
(Note: It is probably easier to reach the S ridge from a camp on Nelson Creek, first N tributary of Delphine Creek, as in Routes 2 and 3 below, although Paradise Mine may be easier to reach than such a camp).
2. SW Ridge. The normal route, usually climbed from a camp near the head of Nelson Creek. Gain Nelson-Sultana col overlook ing Bruce Creek (this point also easily reached from latter). Climb along the crest of the SW ridge over loose rock to the base of the summit crovvn. The most interesting route goes up the Wmost of the three V-shaped gullies mentioned under Route 1. Ascent 5 hr.
Mr. & Mrs. G. D. Emerson, E. W. Harnden, 7/1911
3. SW Face. Essentially a variant of the two routes above. Reach the SW cirque from Nelson Creek, then climb central rib of SW face (good rock) to S ridge about 500′ below summit. Follow it to top as in Route 1. RT 7½ hr.
D. Broadbent, A. H. & E. L. MacCarthy, 8/1913
4. E Ridge. From Paradise Mine as in Route 1, traversing S slopes of Mt Trafalgar to Nelson-Trafalgar col. Scramble up the ridge (F3) on decom posed rock to a final pitch (F4) on solid conglomerate leading to the summit. Could conveniently be combined with a traverse of Trafalgar.
H. Cyr, P. Zvengrowski, 7/1975
MT TRAFALGAR 3033m 9950′
½ mi E of Mt Nelson.
From Paradise Mine ap proach as for Route 1 on Mt Nelson to base of E ridge of objective. Ascend ridge to junction with SE ridge which is followed over firm dolomite, giving way to shale, to summit.
FA S. Reynolds & party1962.
BLACK DIAMOND MT 2941m 9650′
2 mi S of Mt McCoubrey between heads of Farnham and Delphine Creeks.
1. S ridge. From camp at head of Delphine Creek, head NW up to a terrace above the falls in the stream emanating from Sham rock Lake, then turn W to reach the snow pass (8700) just S of objective. Climb S ridge and SW face chimney over loose black shale to top; 4 hr
FA A.H. & E. L. MacCarthy, M. &W. E. Stone, C Kain, 8/l916
2. N Ridge. Follow Route 1 to terrace, but then head directly up to saddle N of peak, from which the ridge is taken to the summit, turning difficulties on screes of W face.
S. Reynolds & party 1962
UNNAMED 1 (9150), 2 (9350), 3 (9650)
Three minor peaks on ridge separating Delphine and Jumbo Creeks; between Black Diamond Mt and Monument Peak.
Start as for Black Diamond, Route 1 (which see), turning S on the main ridge and traversing the peaks in order en route to Monument Peak (which see). An easy and enjoyable trip requiring 5½ hr from camp to summit of Peak 3.
FA A. H. & E. L. MacCarthy, W. E. Stone, C. Kain, 7/1916
MONUMENT PEAK 3094m 10150′
Major peak on ridge separating Delphine and Jumbo Creeks.
On traverse from unnamed peaks via the NW ridge, traversing on W side where necessary. 4 hr from Peak 3 (Unnamed 9650); 9½ hr from camp at head of Delphine Creek.
FA MacCarthy party (see Unnamed 9150 above).(Note: FA party made difficult descent on steep rock of NE face to glacier and ultimately to camp in valley in 7½ hr; not recommended.), 7/1916
PARAMOUNT PEAK 3033m 9950′
Higher of two peaks at end of ridge SE from Monument Peak.
Take mining jeep road which leaves Jumbo Creek road about one mi beyond first bridge. Bushwhack to large stream draining S from Monument Peak and ascend to saddle (9000) W of objective, from which the SW ridge is followed easily to top. RT from Jumbo Creek 12 hr.
FA C.Wagner & family.
PARADOX PEAK 2990m 9810′
Smost peak on ridge separating Delphine and Jumbo Creeks.
Leave Toby Creek road near junction with Jumbo Creek, following a mining road to high basin (7200) SSW of peak (3½ hr). Gain SSW ridge following it (one F4 pitch) to summit. 6 hr from camp at timberline; descent 3 hr.
FRA J Jeglum, D. Morgan, C. Wagner, 7/1974