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Ascent of Kispiox Mountain on 2017-09-08

Climber: John Stolk

Date:Friday, September 8, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Kispiox Mountain
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:2096 m / 6877 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Kispiox Mountain
Elevation : 6877 feet
Prominence: 5122 feet
Location : 55:23.9 N –127:56.6 W
Backroads Mapbook: Northern BC (2nd edition*), Map 49:A5 <3rd edition also>
Climb Length: One day from end of the road.
Elevation gain: ~3500 feet total including extra gain on return.
Difficulty: Class 2-3
Others in Party: Grant Myers. Climbed September 8, 2017.

Additional resources:
Grant Myers beautiful photographs can be found on Shutterfly (Images #67-94):
https://peakpics.shutterfly.com/12057

Overview:
Kispiox Mountain is located just west of the Skeena River not far from the town of Hazelton/New Hazelton in north central British Columbia. This region is renowned for its world class salmon and steelhead fishing and at one time the largest salmon ever caught came out of the Skeena. This area is only lightly populated giving a climb of Kispiox a feeling of remoteness while still being relatively accessible. The climb itself is relatively straightforward in good conditions and can be accomplished in a single day from the end of the logging road. Several other ultra prominence peaks are nearby including Mount Thomlinson, Brian Boru Peak and Seven Sisters Peaks, all of which appear to be significantly more difficult than Kispiox Mountain. Overall this is a really fine outing in a beautiful pristine area and was especially memorable given it was my 100th Ultra.

Directions:
Leave Highway 16 in the town of New Hazelton and turn north onto Highway 62. Head north and west toward the First Nations village of ‘Ksan. Before entering the main village turn right and drive north on Kispiox Valley Road crossing over to the west side of the Skeena River on the Hagwilget Canyon bridge above an impressive gorge. Continue north heading toward the First Nations village of Kispiox. This is the last place to get gas and supplies. Just before Kispiox is a bridge crossing the Kispiox River (a tributary of the Skeena) into town. On the west side of the bridge turn onto the appropriately named Kispiox Westside Road.
I do not have mileages but the first major junction I recall is the road signed for Sunday and Bras Lakes perhaps 6-8 miles from the start of the Westside Road. Stay left here (do not go to the lakes). Continue on this main left branch which heads northwest eventually reaching a point just south of McCully Creek at about 15 miles passing an old sign for the Kispiox Mountain trail along the way. Up until this point the road is good and suitable for any passenger vehicle.
Here the road forks with a minor somewhat overgrown fork continuing more or less straight ahead while the more travelled road switchbacks left and up the hill in a logged area. Follow the left branch that soon steepens considerably although with some coaxing most vehicles can continue onward. Stay on the main track approximately another 3-5(?) miles to the end of the road. There is a good turnaround area about 100 meters from the end of the road and suitable sites to camp. We were visited by a mama bear with two large cubs that were grazing on the abundant blueberries there. While this road is currently (as of 2017) in good condition, brush is just beginning to encroach and it may eventually become overgrown. With the trail at the end of the road it is possible that locals will keep it open longer term but this is not certain. Also, it was useful to consult the satellite images for this approach. The idea is to end up on the spur which ends just east of a creek drainage a couple of miles north of Moonlit Mountain.

Route Information:
From the end of the road look for a trail on the uphill side. The trail was easy to locate and is surprisingly good given its remote location. Despite being muddy, there were signs of recent maintenance with fresh cuts on some of the logs. After a few minutes the trail drops down to the creek and climbs steeply up the opposite bank. From there it took us just over an hour to reach the edge of the alpine northeast of Moonlit Mountain. Make sure to note the location of the trail once it fades in the alpine for your return.
Now climb up open slopes through heather and blueberry bushes and over tundra terrain and traverse the flat NE ridge/shoulder of Moonlit at about 1600m. When the slope steepens look for a goat/climbers path heading up and to the right. Scramble up the loose talus and dirt to reach the broad east shoulder of Moonlit Mountain at about 1750m. Here we made a short side trip on easy terrain to the top of Moonlit (1814m).
The summit of Kispiox is now visible a couple of miles away to the south. While it may seem tempting to follow the ridge heading directly south toward the summit from point 1720m, this leads to a difficult portion not far below the summit. We were turned back near a small tower with steep loose gullies to the left and exposed slabs to the right at about 2000m and forced to retreat back down to the broad 1600m saddle just south of point 1720m. From here we traversed west well below the glacier across the glacial moraine to the next ridge over (NW ridge). We were able to gain this ridge via the shoulder which is somewhat steeper and loose. Once on the ridge we followed goat paths on better footing near the crest all the way to the summit which contains a couple of communications structures. We dropped off the west side of the ridge briefly to avoid one steeper section. Beyond this section the route was an easy walk to the top. If one follows this line the difficulty should not exceed chossy class 2 or easy class 3 at most.

Summary Total Data



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