After summiting Victoria Peak via its northwest slope, we decided that it would be fun to try and make a loop by descending along what I call, “Whitney Ridge”, after nearby Whitney Creek. With snowshoe ascents of the two other high points along the 7 km+ ridge (“Whitney Creek Mountain” and “Whitney Ridge”), I’ve wondered what it would be like to complete the ridge by trekking to its highest point before it turns to the southeast and connects with Victoria Peak. I’ve heard from sheep hunters in the past that it was neat terrain, so my curiosity was decidedly piqued.
That high point is what I’ve come to nickname, “Whitney Peak” simply because it forms the corner point where the ridge begins to separate itself from the main massif. As such, I thought it was worth a banal moniker simply for my own reference, though many gatekeepers and purists will probably disagree. Fair enough. My nicknames are not definitive or official and if disagreeing with me on this one keeps someone off this route, it’s to their loss as the scrambling along the ridge is really quite fun.
Indeed, we were not expecting the ridge to be as intensive – or as narrow as it was. However, solid rock and conveniently placed bypasses, made it possible for us to stick almost entirely to the crest, down-climbing and scrambling our way north and back to the valley that would take us to the gas road and our bikes. As fun as it was, it was time consuming and it took us longer to get back than it did to summit Victoria Peak. Given this, we wondered if the entire loop would be better done in reverse? Either way, there is more than enough route finding and scrambling to go around. 😊
Be sure to read Andrew’s trip report!
Descending from Victoria Peak via “Whitney Peak” was easy for the first ~1.5 km (~315 m in elevation) as we followed a scree slope down the connecting ridge. However, after that, it became a series of steps along a narrow ridge for the next ~1.3 km before making the short ascent to reach the summit of “Whitney Peak” and the start of “Whitney Ridge”. The ~730 m trip to its lower, twin summit was even more exciting with the ridge narrowing in places to as little as 30 to 40 centimetres, though thankfully, this was easily bypassed. From the twin summit, it required another ~1 km of scrambling and down-climbing to reach the col with “Whitney Ridge”, before we could drop into the valley and follow the creek for ~2.2 km back to the bridge and our bikes.
Our total roundtrip time was 8 hours and 24 minutes with total elevation gains of 1331 m. Our total distance travelled was just over 20 km. Our descent time off of Victoria Peak ended up at 4 hours and 22 minutes, whereas our ascent time was 4 hours and 2 minutes.
The view down from Victoria Peak to the twin summits of “Whitney Peak” (left) and the start of the 7 km+ ridge that I’ve nicknamed “Whitney Ridge”.
Brad and Andrew scope out our route as we make the easy hike off the summit.
It was great to see so many flowers in bloom.
The view back to the summit of Victoria Peak and our ascent route up from the spur (left).
A closer look at the summit highlights the variety of colour.
Beginning the easy descent off of the ridge. “Whitney Peak” sits in front of Brad and Andrew.
A pano looking back as we arrive at the first section of scrambling.
A telephoto of the connecting ridge between the spur and the northwest slope of Victoria. There are also options to get onto Victoria from the intervening bowl.
Brad leads the way as the ridge narrows.
And so begins the down-climbing…
The good news was that the rock was solid.
Andrew checks out a patch of alpine buttercup.
Brad continues to lead us down… He really is a bad influence. 😂
Andrew demonstrates a technical move known as the ‘e-bike’. 😉
Brad’s view back to Andrew and I. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)
Getting closer to the twin summits of “Whitney Peak”.
Brad heads down a particularly steep section.
A closer look at what Brad just down-climbed.
I followed Brad down, but Andrew (right) wisely found a bypass.
More down-climbing. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Looking back at the first section of scrambling.
Descending to the col with “Whitney Peak”.
This section is completely avoidable, but the overhangs are cool to walk along. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Brad and Andrew also follow the sharp ridge up.
The first and highest summit of “Whitney Peak” (2132 m).
Looking south at a small, unnamed peak (centre) on Windsor Ridge. On the far left is Victoria Ridge.
Gazing west at Windsor Mountain and Castle Peak.
Whitney’s slightly lower twin peak sits ~730 m away along a very narrow ridge.
Looking to the northeast at Prairie Bluff.
Another view back to Victoria Peak.
That moment when you learn there is no e-bike charging station on the mountain. 😂😂
Love you Brad! 😂
Again, people may disagree with me giving this high point a nickname, but I’m cool with that. I just needed an excuse to pile up some rocks.
Heading over to the twin summit. This is where we experienced some great scrambling.
Down-climbing from the first summit onto the ridge.
The section just below the summit. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Andrew skilfully negotiates a small drop off. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)
The view back to the first summit.
The ridge narrows considerably.
Brad leads the way up.
The section of ridge between the two summits was like a mini version of the cockscomb on Mount Crandell.
Brad arrives at a large fissure in the rock.
The fissure was too wide to risk crossing, so we bypassed it to climber’s right.
Like my first car, speed was not an option along the ridge. 😂 (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Andrew does some careful balancing.
This section took us a bit of time to get through.
The last portion of ridge before the second summit.
My turn to lead the way. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
To say that the ridge “narrows considerably’ would be an understatement. Fortunately, we could bypass this section by squeezing between the tree and the rock.
On the ridge again and looking back at Andrew.
The last tricky section before the summit…
But we had no trouble tackling it head-on. (Photo by Andrew Nugara)
Brad follows close behind.
The view back to the first summit.
Arriving on the second summit of “Whitney Peak”.
The view north along “Whitney Ridge” shows that we still had a ways to go before reaching the col in the centre.
Descending off of the second summit was perhaps the trickiest part of the day, as there was a thin layer of loose scree covering the rocks.
Once again, Brad takes the lead.
I took a more direct line down (left), while Brad and Andrew (lower right) chose a more sane path. (Photo by Brad Wolcott)
Finally off of that miserable loose scree!
One more down and up before reaching the col.
The ridge still holds some surprises.
Another view back to the second summit.
The col with “Whitney Ridge”. We had initially considered continuing on, but the time that it took us to descend to this point, nixed that thought.
Andrew’s turn to lead the way.
Heading down from the col towards the creek below. Our ascent route earlier in the day went up the slope to the right of centre.
A pano of Victoria Peak and “Whitney Peak”.
We side-sloped as much as possible to avoid bushwhacking; hoping to get as close as we could to our snowshoe route on “Whitney Ridge“.
Finally sucking it up and heading into the trees.
It wasn’t as bad as we had thought it would be.
A sticky – not stinky – purple geranium.
Arriving at the creek and looking back towards “Whitney Peak”.
Searching for the trail…
After bushwhacking for quite a while alongside the creek, we finally found the trail.
Emerging from the trail onto the road. Our bikes are on the other side of the bridge.
Andrew laughs maniacally at the thought of Brad and I having to use mere human-powered bikes.
Cruising back to the cars.
Arriving back after 20 km and 8 hours and 22 minutes of scrambling fun. As an alternative to the common route up Victoria Peak, the route via the northwest spur is definitely worth considering. To make it into a loop that includes “Whitney Peak” is also a worthwhile consideration – and it could even be done in reverse. Finally, and as always, it was my privilege to spend the day in great company, even if Brad wrote nasty things about me in the register. 😉