OXO Peak

August 13, 2015

Mountain height:     3080 m
Elevation gain:        1350 m
Ascent time:           5:05
Descent time:         4:30

Solo scramble.

The name is probably unfamiliar, but I bet most people who drive up Highway 93 North will immediately recognize OXO (Puzzle) Peak as the very distinctive, down-sloping slab of rock, northeast of Dolomite Peak. I had often wondered if it was possible to scramble up this unnamed, but very significant mountain. A trip report from a group of adventurous Ramblers , verified that there was a route up and so I set off to repeat their route.

After hiking along the Mosquito Campground trail for a few kilometres, I turned up one of the rocky creeks, coming down from the northwest. This turned out to be a real treat, rock-hopping up the fascinating and colourful boulders. Even more of a treat was the valley above. Not only were the views of the east side of Dolomite Peak and the west side of OXO awesome, but the valley floor itself was riddled with super interesting geological features, including an area where the limestone underfoot had cracked in the same way that the mud of a dried-up lake does, and later another section of limestone that had formed into mini-peaks – it looked exactly like a 3-D topo map of a mountainous area. Very rapidly, this was turning into one of my favourite trips in the area.

The fantastic scenery continued as I made my way to the col between and a northeast outlier of Dolomite Peak and the objective. From the col the ascent to the ridge started off with annoying rubble, but soon graduated to an interesting route-finding challenge, with sometimes fun and sometimes precarious scrambling. Unfortunately the ascent route was littered with loose rock and as hard as I tried not to, a few rocks of decent size were dislodged and ended up flying down the mountain. I was very glad there was no one below me.

Upon reaching the ridge, much easier terrain led to the summit and a wonderful view, even with the hazy conditions. Surprisingly, OXO is one of the taller mountains in the area, surpassing in height everything (named and unnamed) in the immediate vicinity. There were 7 entries in the summit register.

On descent, I was intent on not unleashing any rocks down the mountain, but once again failed. Any falling rocks on this peak get funneled into the initial ascent gully, making it a very treacherous proposition if multiple parties are on the route.

 Once back into the valley, to make sure I had fully explored the area, I took an alternate descent route, more to the north. This diversion yielded more even extraordinary scenes of rock of different coloured rock and wild scenery.

 An outstanding day with some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen. Note, however, I wouldn’t go anywhere near the ascent route if there was a party or person ahead of me.  

Boulder-hopping up the creek
Pleasant scenery that is about to get much more pleasant!

Better! The east side of Dolomite Peak left to centre. OXO at the right

The northeast outlier of Dolomite Peak was spectacular throughout the trip

Limestone doing its imitation of dried-up, cracked mud

Limestone doing another imitation of a 3-D topo map

The colour contrasts of rock was another great feature of the valley. The outlier (left) is considerably lower than OXO (right)

OXO Peak

The outlier

The outlier and other summits of Dolomite

Cirque Peak - still one of the best scrambles along the highway

OXO. The ascent route goes up a weakness on the left side

Looking back at the outlier and Dolomite

Approaching the real scrambling

Typical terrain to negoiate

A small, unmarked glacier on the east side of the peak

Colourful views on the way to the summit. Lots of unnamed stuff. The Willingdons in the distant centre.

The summit view to the east and southeast. Quartzite, Ramp and Mosquito look very different from this angle

More terrific summit views

Hazy Hector

Dolomite Peak and some of the Wapta Icefield to the southwest

A last look to the east

On return, an old friend, Noseeum Peak makes an appearance

Some of the super interesting terrain of the alternate descent route

A close-up

More interesting colours

The beautiful far southeast end of the OXO massif

Same as above

......and again

The more familiar view Quartzite, Ramp and Mosquito