MT KASLO, POWDERKEG & DEVILS HORN – N of Powder Creek

MT KASLO    2362m   7750′
There is no successful trip up Mt Kaslo in KMC publications.
Attempt #1. SW Ridge. Cross Powder Creek and turn east shortly after the 13km marker. After .6km, park by an old logging road at 900m. Walk up the road to a landing area. Ascend to a rocky outcrop and climb on rock covered by moss or lichen and minimal bushwhacking. After 350m and 1.5 hours, rain and bush ended the attempt.

POWDERKEG 2789m 9,150′ (Previously Unnamed 2,789)
Map: 82F/15 Kaslo  194-298
A rather striking rock peak that is prominent from Mirror Lake and Shutty Bench along Highway #31, this mountain is located on the north side of Powder Creek about 12 kilometres due east of Kaslo. Its best-known neighbours are Loki (9 kilometres south) and the Leaning Towers Group (11 kilometres to the northeast). On the Devil’s Horn climb the previous fall we had decided to return the following year for a go at this one.
On July 27, 1996 a gang of four zoomed to the summit and decided to name the peak Mt. John Carter. Now we hear the Parks Branch may be naming something in Kokanee after John, so we will put our suggestion aside. Since our outing was a first ascent, we dragged a substantial quantity of climbing gear, none of which we used, to the top. Some parties may want to carry a rope.
For access, follow the Powder Creek road to about kilometre 9.8 from the Riondel road. This spot (1,524 meters, one hour from the turnoff) is directly south of unnamed 2,789 meters. From this point, head straight up through a boulder field and slide alder for about 100 meters to the base of a cliff or slabs. Diagonal right and head up a gully of attractive granite slabs, being careful not to get forced too far into the gully. Higher up, move left and ascend a forested ridge that parallels the gully, continue to above the tree line. Then make for a prominent knob that is passed on the right by following a wide gully. Proceed farther on a rib of alternate bands of limestone and broken shale to about 1,524; at this point diagonal left (but not as far as a prominent gully leading to the summit) and continue straight up surmounting one class 4 rock step until the peak’s east ridge is reached about 150 meters east of the summit. From here, simply continue west over two steps of flat, platelike shale (very Purcells, but solid) to the roomy, level summit platform (4 hours 10 minutes from the truck, but we were just back from climbing in Peru).
For the descent retrace your steps, but lower down avoid the slabby gully by keeping well to the right or west. Much farther down, two rockslides below come into sight. I descended the higher right one and then moved left onto the lower one, which goes almost to the road, about 30 meters west of where the truck was parked.
This outing was done as a day trip from Nelson, 6:00 a.m. ferry over, and 8:10 p.m. back. In all, it’s a moderately strenuous trip in a somewhat remote area; one of the rewards is the view of the Leaning Towers from the summit. The headwaters of Powder Creek are an attractive area for hiking and easy mountaineering. The trail gives easy alpine access to the complex series of ridges at the heights of land between Powder and Campbell Creeks and the St. Mary River, and numerous tarns provide good camping spots.
Mt. Baldr (2,789 m) and some minor summits to its northwest would afford interest to scramblers, although Baldr’s northeast ridge may offer rock climbing. The Powder Creek drainage does not give satisfactory access to the Leaning Towers Group.
Summary: From kilometre ten on the Powder Creek road head north crossing bush and a boulder field to the base of cliffs and slabs. Diagonal right into a prominent rock gully and follow it until preferable to move left onto a ridge. Follow this south ridge to about 2,438 meters before diagonaling left for 150 meters. Continue straight up to gain the peak’s East Ridge, which is followed to summit. UNNAMED south ridge (111,4)
Time to summit 4 1/2, descent 2¼ hours, 8 to 8 1/2 hour day, including an hour for summit lounging. Participants: Kim Kratky, Hamish Mutch, Larry Smith, Fred Thiessen
Kim Kratky

Hamish Mutch has had this name approved for a previously-unnamed peaks in the Interior Ranges. The Committee on Geographical Names has accepted the following:
ƒ Powderkeg Pk., 2791 m., 9157’ the highest point on the ridge east of Mt. Kaslo, Purcells (Map 82F/15)

DEVIL’S HORN   2,590m   8,650′
Map: 82F/15 
Kaslo  225-286
Devil’s Horn (not an officially gazetted name) is somewhat of a mystery. Fred Thiessen got the idea of leading a club trip there as he thought it was the prominent peak that can be seen by looking east from Mirror Lake and up Powder Creek. That turned out to be another peak (see following entry), but an official KMC outing did ascend Devil’s Horn on September 17, 1995.
When we reached the summit after an easy scramble we were somewhat surprised to find a cairn, but even more intrigued to find therein the names of one-time KMCers Gunther and Dieter Offermann and Elena Underhill, who had made the first (and probably only) ascent in 1975. The Climber’s Guide South for 1977 actually lists Devil’s Horn and describes it as a “minor peak at head of Powder Creek, popular as a practice crag.” The first part of the entry is correct; the second part wholly inaccurate. A further reference in the text sent me to the Canadian Alpine Journal Vol. 58 where there was in fact an article by Elena, complete with pictures, describing the climb and two earlier attempts. We can only surmise that the Offermann/Underhill party must have thought they were climbing the more impressive peak to the west and were confused by the foul weather that accompanied their several trips in this area.
Climbing Devil’s Horn (despite its evocative name) is about like going up Freya, Harlow, or Ludlow; it hardly rates inclusion in a climber’s guide. Anyway, here are some details for those who want to go there. You may also want to check your KMC newsletter for January 1996 (I’m sure you do keep them).
Access to the Powder Creek area is by way of the Riondel/ East Shore Road. From Riondel, follow this road north past kilometre 13, crossing Powder Creek on a steel bridge. The next road past the creek is the Powder Creek Road, a route that demands four-wheel, low-range driving most of the way. The roadbed, although not steep, is full of holes and becoming decidedly overgrown; in other words, you don’t want to take your brand new Jeep Cherokee Eddie Bauer Limited Edition up here. Drive the Powder Creek road to its end at about kilometre 12 (1,646 meters, I hour 20 minutes from Riondel road turn-off—marginal campsites at the road’s end, difficult even to turn around).
From road’s end take the trail that leads to the lakes at 225-276, but after about 30 minutes, leave the trail and head northeast toward the prominent south ridge of Devil’s Horn. Follow this to a basin above treeline and finish the climb via the southwest ridge (excellent scrambling on very good granite) or alternatively by the East Ridge.
Return by the same route. The rope is not used. Time to summit about 2 1/2 hours, 6- to 7-hour day.

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I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am "home", are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking. I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.
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