Exploratory trip to BC to get up 2 ultra-prominent peaks; Mt. Mara,7365' (5545' p.) and Pukeashun Mtn. 7556' (5564'p.).Since completing the 57 ultras list I haven't had a chance to do any other ultra-prominent summits and have been looking at some of the Canadian ultras as possible objectives. Though most of these are either difficult climbs or difficult access (in most cases both), these two peaks are good early season climbs, and fairly close to home for me.
Duane G. and I (and dog Luna) left Sunday afternoon, driving 4.5 hours to a camp at Harper Lake near Chase BC.(NE of Kamloops). Though it rained for most of the drive I was able to set up the tent on dry ground under a large fir tree that kept most of the rain off my tent during the night. We woke to some sun and the call of Loons on the water. We were back on the road by 6:30, driving to Enderby where we turned on a street in the middle of town for Mable Lake. This becomes the Mable Lake Road (paved) which we followed to Kingfisher FSR (akaThree Valley Mable Lake FSR). This road is wide and smooth but with numerous potholes and we followed it about 7 miles to just past some power lines to turn on the Mt. Mara road (signed). This road was quite nice at first but becomes 4wd after a couple of miles. Duane drove his Explorer about 5 miles to 4500' where we had enough of the rough road and decided to start hiking.
In about a half mile we reached snow cover on the road and shortly after that it started raining; we were having fun now! The rain let off soon after we donned our rain coats but it was cool enough to keep them on. We soon stopped again to put on snowshoes, lots of snowmobile tracks around.
At a little over 6000' we reached timberline and a few breaks of sun. Visibility improved and we could see the lookout cabin that is perched on the summit in the distance. We soon left the road taking a more direct line across snowfields in an ascending traverse to the final notch just south of the summit. This last slope was in sun with blue sky and very enjoyable. The lookout was open and we went inside. It was kind of trashy but warmer inside so we spent a bit of time letting our jackets dry out and having lunch. The summit is known as Mt. Mara by the locals though Mt Mara is shown on the map about 1.7 miles west of the high point. It is called Morton Peak on the Bivouac site. In any case it is the high point of Hunters Range at 7365'.
It was 4.2 miles up, 2600' gain in about 3.5 hours. After about 40 minutes we headed down, had a brief shower, and then the sun came out for most of the descent.
Drove to Salmon Arm and had dinner at a Mexican place that was very good & then went on to the long drive into Pukeashun. Besides all the paved road driving there is about 30 miles of logging road into the Grizzly Lodge near Pukeashun. While researching the route to Pukeashun (pronounced Poo-key-shun) I found out that this remote lodge for snowmobilers is very close to the mountain and provides good access to Pukeashuns SW ridge. Duane had called the lodge to make sure that the road was open and we stopped by to see the lodge after our long drive and inquire about a place to set up a tent nearby. It was 1 hour 20 min. to drive the 30 miles to the lodge. The caretaker came out and talked to us, he was surprised to have someone show up so late in the day (8:30pm). He said we could set up camp in the parking lot & then pretty much insisted that we take a room inside which we did.
In the morning we helped him out by taking in some firewood and then drove up the road about another mile to a creek where the final part of the road had been decommissioned, elev. 5000'. We geared up leaving the car at 7:30 and crossed the creek on a small bridge and logs. In a few minutes we were at the road end in a recent cutblock. From here it was up easily through the small open trees to old growth woods of the SW ridge of Pukeashun. Kind of brushy with downed trees at first but we were in snow at about 5600'. Easy open woods now but it started raining, disappointing considering the good forecast. Luna didn't seem to notice the wet weather.
Rain turned to snow at 6000' and the ridge opened up as it narrowed above that. We weren't sure that the ridge would be followable but it was fine with just a bit of up and down and narrow cornice. Above that it was broad and gentle though in a whiteout for a while. Finally above the 7000' level it stopped snowing we had some visibility on the fairly long arc to the easy summit dome at 7556', 4 hours 15 min. from the car. Some sun and views made it all worthwhile and getting this relatively unknown and remote ultra-prominent summit was very satisfying. We hiked out and drove home making it back to my place by 9:30 that evening. 8 miles RT, 3000' gain and 7.5 hours.
Parked at 4500'
Found this strange scene along the road, Dr. Seuss story perhaps?
Action shot-notice the snow flying!
Duane has lunch
Luna leading the way as usual
My 70th ultra summit, Luna's 95 p2k summit
Didn't get pictures of the bears of which we saw 6 total