Ascent to Cheops Mountain-Northwest Ridge on 1992-08-08

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, August 8, 1992
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Point Reached:Cheops Mountain - Northwest Ridge
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:8268 ft / 2520 m
    Remaining Elevation:200 ft / 61 m (5% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

At the Rogers Pass visitor center the rangers told me about a couple of possible hikes, discouraging me from attempting any major summits, due to their massive glaciers and spires. I decided on a hike up to Balu Pass, a high col, both because the trail left right from where I was, and it seemed that high peaks were within striking distance from it.

I returned to my car, got my daypack together, put on my boots, and, after some looking around, found the trail to Balu Pass, which started out as a dirt road alongside a brook. I passed many hikers as it turned into a trail that was soon ascending a wide valley through thick vegetation, but not too steeply. I passed a huge group of French speakers, presumably Quebecois, rested a couple times, and made good time uphill as the trees began to thin out. It was still partly cloudy, with many big clouds covering the higher summits, but very sunny and hot when they were not overhead.

After a couple hours I reached grassy Balu Pass, at 6750 feet. The views of the high peaks to the north were pretty good, but any thoughts I had of trying to climb icy, craggy giants such as Ursus Major or Minor were put to rest by their imposing summits. However, unglaciated Cheops Peak, to the east, looked possible. It was the pyramid-like peak the dominated the valley I had just hiked up as well as the entire Rogers Pass area.

After a long rest I traversed the pleasant grassy flats of Balu Pass for a bit to the base of Cheops Peak's main bulk, and then found faint, occasional paths through brush that led uphill steeply. I could see the large party of French people down in Balu Pass as I climbed higher and higher, leaving behind brush and then climbing some firm talus slopes. The ridge I was on flattened out for a while, then climbed some more, now totally above timberline and very steep. Again, I found faint paths that helped lead me up this big mountain.

Finally my ridge levelled out again and turned into a knife edge, and I rested, disappointed to see the summit still a little bit further along the now somewhat treacherous ridge. However, the sky had been getting overcast as I had climbed, and it now started to snow fiercely. The strong wind, bitter cold, and wet snow all made me very apprehensive about going along the knife-edge ridge that would have been an enjoyable and easy challenge if it was sunny. Reluctantly, I decided to descend after waiting to see if the snow would end and it didn't. I was only about 200 vertical feet short of the 8325 foot summit, on a long, mostly level ridge, but I couldn't justify continuing in a blizzard. It was strange how this hike was turning out exactly like my attempt on Mt. Wilcox yesterday--both were tries on easy peaks in glaciated ranges via grassy saddles, and both were turned back by early August snowstorms.

I was very cold on the soggy, snowy descent back towards Balu Pass, wearing my full winter gear I was glad I had brought, although socks on my hands had to make do as mittens. Despite the slippery snow which accumulated on the ground quite a bit I carefully made my way down the steep talus, flat section, and steep brushy slope. Instead of climbing over a big grassy hump to Balu Pass, I contoured around the head of the ravine the trail was in, getting my feet wet in the snow, to intersect the trail below the pass. By now it was just raining lightly, and it stayed that way for my entire hike down the wooded trail--typical Northwest drizzle. Tired after climbing and descending 4000 vertical feet in an afternoon, I arrived back at my car by around 6:00 P.M.

I changed my clothes and then spent some time wandering through the visitor center, looking at maps to see how high I had climbed--only to 8200 feet, but with lots of vertical--and eating an apple before finally leaving Rogers Pass.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4121 ft / 1256 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4121 ft / 1255 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.4 mi / 16.7 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Snowing, Cool, Breezy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4121 ft / 1256 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3957 ft / 1207 m; Extra: 164 ft / 49m
    Loss on way in:164 ft / 49 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    Start Trailhead:Rogers Pass  4311 ft / 1313 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3957 ft / 1206 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    End Trailhead:Rogers Pass  4311 ft / 1313 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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