Thunder Mountain is located on the Livingstone Range and is a fairly easy and straightforward hike. Peter Fidler climbed it in 1792, making it the first peak in the Canadian Rockies to be ascended by a non-native. (source) Our route started on the far right and followed the skyline ridge to the summit. Joining me was my son, Joel, and his friend, Jon, who despite not feeling too well, endured the entirety of the trip like a champ.
The Google Earth view of our route. North is to the left. I’m still getting used to my first ever GPS unit so pardon the uselessness of this map.
Our elevation gains and distance travelled.
Joel and Jon decided to scramble right off the bat. You can easily avoid this by following a trail next to the rock face that leads into the trees. It only lasts for about 50m or so, but the path will get you going toward the first ridge from the road.
Once in the trees, there were a few cairns that marked some vague paths to the first ridge. If you climb Thunder, it is best to trend left once you are in the trees. There are more cliffs and rock walls toward the right.
Looking down at the Old Man River shortly after we began our hike. There are some nice cuthroats that live in those holes.
What is known locally as ‘The Gap’ – where the Old Man River flows through a pass in the Livingstone Range. The ridge on the opposite side is the southern end of Thrift Peak and leads to the Livingstone Fire Lookout.
The view once we gained the ridge. The false summit is in the middle.
There are several giant boulders scattered along the ridge…
…and I tried my best to push them out of the way.
Joel shows off his karate chop skills…
…and the damage it can do.
Joel and Jon pose GQ-style on top of a car-sized rock.
Another view of the false summit from further along the ridge.
Joel makes his way along the ridge.
As usual, Joel found some fossils and this time it was fossilized coral.
Joel and Jon continue toward the false summit. Thrift Peak is in the background.
This was a fun ridge walk!
I’m looking back toward the first ridge we gained. Thrift Peak is in the background.
Jon climbs up to toward the false summit.
Quartz or some kind of crystalized rock.
Now this is one of the most interesting rock formations that I’ve ever seen. Can you see a penguin?
A close up of the penguin rock. We did not alter this in any way.
Looking towards the summit from the false summit.
Looking west from the false summit. Crowsnest Mountain and the Seven Sisters are in the distance on the far left. Allison Peak, Window Mountain, Mount Ward, and Racehorse Mountain are left of centre. Gould Dome and Tornado Mountain are on the right.
A closer view of the summit ridge.
Joel walks along the ridge toward the summit.
We found a topographical survey marker on the ridge between the false summit and summit.
Thunder has two summit cairns. The western one finally comes into view.
Looking back along the summit ridge and the route that we travelled.
Joel reaches the western summit cairn first….
…and celebrates with a hand stand – at least as good of one as the wind would allow.
The view southward along the Livingstone Range from the western summit. Centre Peak and “Lightning Peak” are on the left. In the far distant centre is Mount Coulthard, Mount McLaren, Andy Good Peak, Mount Parrish, and Chinook Peak. Ma Butte, McGillivray Ridge, “Vicary Creek Ridge”, Crowsnest Mountain, the Seven Sisters, Allison Peak, Window Mountain, Mount Ward, and Racehorse Mountain are on the distant right.
The view toward the northwest. Tornado Mountain is the tallest peak in the region and it is located just right of centre in this picture.
Joel and I on the summit of Thunder Mountain.
Beside the Thunder Mountain west summit cairn.
Looking across the summit toward the east cairn.
Joel and Jon enjoy a break near the east summit cairn.
According to my GPS, this is the elevation of the east summit.
The western summit is 2m higher, which might explain why it has the bigger cairn.
The view to the south from the east summit.
The view from the east summit to the western summit cairn.
The view out to the east.
McGillivray Ridge, Ma Butte, Crowsnest Mountain, and the Seven Sisters are on the left. “Deadman Peak” and “Vicary Creek Ridge” are in the centre and Allison Peak, Window Mountain, and Mount Ward are on the right.
Joel stands on the east summit cairn. The western cairn of Thunder Mountain is in the background.
And yet another view southward along the Livingstone Range. Outside of Centre Peak (left), “Lightning Peak” (left of centre) is the next highest point on the Range.
The colourful summit ridge.
Joel negotiates a steeper section of the ridge You can easily avoid this by keeping to the left. However, Joel likes to scramble…. I just wish I could get him to wear his hiking boots.
The view down from where Joel was scrambling in the previous picture.
Thrift Peak is in the background.
Our end point finally appears.
The last few hundred metres before the vehicle and the game of ‘find that trail’ begins again.
Looking back to Thunder Mountain as we leave. Hiking up Thunder was a very enjoyable experience.