MT BALDR 2799m 8183’
Map: KASLO 82F/15
Did I really want to go on this KMC club trip? I had already collected two attempts, and two failures (1998, 2004), on Baldr from this Powder Creek access, enduring long days and unpleasant bush whacking. Finally, on the morning of Saturday, July 15th , I decided to go, if only for the social aspect. Co-ordinator Sacha Kalabis was joined by Peter Tchir, Peter Jordan, Lou Chioccarello, and me as we caught the 5:20 from Balfour on Saturday afternoon.
Once on the vile Powder Creek road (I calculate 70 min. to drive 12.2 km), our two vehicles crawled along for about 5 km. until Lou’s Toyota Tacoma lurched to a halt partway up a gentle rise. We discovered that the roadbed had given way under his right rear wheel, leaving that side buried with 2” inches of tire showing and the left front tire 6” off the ground. Peter Jordan confirmed that he had been in such a pickle before, and so we followed his advice, cutting down two trees to create a lever and fulcrum to raise the rear of the truck while we filled in rocks under the stricken wheel. Within an hour, we were again mobile and crept along to the sketchy campsite and turnaround at road’s end by 10:00 pm (5,400’, GR 210-280).
Sunday morning, we were up early and away by 5:45 am to negotiate the trail to Mosquito Lake at 6,000’. Our plan was to travel light without bringing a rope. Leaving the trail at the lake, we commenced bush whacking along its NE side, crossed an in-flow creek, reached a sub-alpine pond in avalanche debris (226-260), and ground our way eastward up a headwall to a ridge at 2315 m. (GR 227-250). This, the height of land between Powder Creek and an unnamed tributary of the St. Mary River draining Little Joe Lakes, gave us a view of Peter Jordan’s favoured route approaching from the north. Before us, we could see a band of snow that we could traverse south round a barrier ridge; beyond this, a glacier would likely lead us to the Baldr-Mt. Hoder col. And so it came to be, as we easily slipped past the barrier ridge and ascended the gentle glacier to the col at 8,550’ (GR 226-236). After a snack, we scrambled 600’ of solid granite on Baldr’s north ridge in 35 min. (the “crux” a class four 20’ jam crack) to reach the summit at 11:55 (6 hrs. 10 min. up).
During our hour on top, we inspected the large cairn, finding no sign of record except a rusted yeast tin. We knew the first ascent had been made exactly 34 years before by a KMC party of Knut Langballe, Sue Port, Peter Wood, and Sandy McElroy on July 16th, 1972. In the summit record tube we had brought, we entered this data (see Kootenay Karabiner, 1972), along with a reference to the ascent by John Stewart and party on Aug. 17, 1986 (see KMC Newsletter, Sept. 1986). I later learned that Terry Turner of Riondel and Ron Stockerl climbed Baldr from Bernard Creek in July 1996. We think ours was the first ascent from Powder Creek and the first via the north ridge, although we surmise ski ascents may have been made from the Tamarack Lodge in Powder Creek. As for peak spotting, we acknowledged that Loki, viewed from the northeast, loomed impressively. To the southeast, Mt. Evans, which Sacha and I had scaled five days before, towered over its neighbours. We again had trouble separating peaks to the north, but were definitely able to discern Mt. Nelson, Mt. Willett, and Templeman.
At 12:55, we began our descent, re-tracing our steps to the truck without incident by 5:35 (4 hr. 40 min. descent, 11 hr. 50 min. day). We easily caught the 8:40 ferry (somewhat disgruntled to learn that Fairy Treats had just closed, and not at all surprised to see that Mojo’s was shut).
In sum, Peter Jordan’s plan of approaching Baldr from the north was an excellent one, yielding what may have been a first ascent via the north ridge. All members of the party summited and pronounced themselves wholly satisfied. Even Lou’s truck seemed not to have suffered any damage from its tangle with the Powder Creek road.