Centre Peak Ė October 28, 2007

Mountain height:           2549 m
Elevation gain:               1020 m
Ascent time:                  5:00
Descent time:                3:00

Scrambling with Mark.

A wonderfully enjoyable trip up Thunder Mountain earlier in the month prompted me to look for any route information on Thunderís higher neighbour to the south Ė Centre Peak Ė the highest mountain in the Livingstone Range. The only beta I could find was Rick Collierís impressive 3 day traverse of the entire massif, starting at Thunder Mountain and continuing south for endless kilometres to a point just north of Highway 3. Of course, Mark and I had no inattention of completing this Herculean feat and would settle for the one summit. Regarding Centre Peak, two words caught my attention when I read Mr. Collierís description: ďtourist routeĒ. Apparently a north facing gully was used to ascend the mountain as well as descend it on snowboards. Driving past the mountain on Chapel Road we could see the gully, but not a route a get there. Nevertheless, the east face appeared to offer several direct routes to the summit.

The only part of the trip that I didnít like was climbing over several barbed-wire fences right at the beginning. The gate in the first fence was not only bard-wired but also padlocked. Obviously the padlock was intended to keep bipedals out and not for the sake of your average quadruped. Iím not sure if we were trespassing as we made our way past a few run down, abandoned farm buildings and then bushwhacked easily to the east face, but I felt uncomfortable about it anyway.

The east face provided a surprisingly enjoyable ascent route. Once out of the trees, several rockbands barred the way. Mark found a good route up the first one and led us up above it. We then traversed into a beautiful snow-filled gully and ascended it until stopped by a small frozen waterfall. More enjoyable hand-on scrambling and good scenery followed. The final push to the summit required crampons as the snow was quite hard. As well, we did find the aforementioned north-facing gully and considered using it for an alternate descent route.

Up to that point, choosing an east-facing route had been a stroke of good luck. We had been sheltered from the west wind throughout the entire ascent. Of course that changed as soon as we reached the ridge. The west wind was brutal, but the traverse to the summit was fortunately very short. Resting at the summit was out of the question due to the strong wind, so we descended the east face for a few metres to find some shelter. We braved the wind only long enough to look to take a quick look at the plaques there and then we headed immediately down.

At the top of the north gully we assessed the snow and decided it might be too risky to descend via this route. However, after losing a little elevation we did find an adjacent gully that didnít look quite as dangerous and started down it. The grade was fairly steep, but the snow provided good footing for the most part. At the bottom we found a cutline that brought us directly to another gravel road and then easily back to the car. A relatively easy, very interesting, and gratifying day out. 

Centre Peak (left) from near Chapel Road


A tree and the moon


Looking up at a dead tree


Mark rests under a rockband


Mark leads us up that rockband


Same as above


Walking under an overhang of rock


Heading into the snow gully


The small frozen waterfall


Avoiding the ice


In the snow gully


Same as above


Looking east to the foothills


Mark scrambles up a rockband


Mark leads the way through another rockband\


Me coming up the same band


An interesting rock formation 


The side view of that formation and the foothills


Starting up the upper slopes


Same as above


An ice axe/boot belay


Almost at the ridge


Mark ascends the snow slope to the ridge


Mark on the ridge


Same as above


Nearing the summit


At the summit looking north


The big summit cairn and one of the plaques


The other plaque


Heading down


Putting the crampons back on; there are eight birds in the centre of this pictures 


A cropped view of the birds


Descending the north-facing snow gully


Same as above