Mount Fisher is a striking peak in Southeast BC, located near the town of Fort Steele. Referred to by locals as “Fisher Peak”, the summit elevation is 2843 m which cranbrooktourism.com says makes it the highest summit in the Southern Rockies (which doesn’t sound right to me, Mount Blakiston in Waterton is 2910 m). What’s undeniable is that it is a formidable looking mountain. Seen from the highway, its stark triangular shape is intimidating. However, there is a scrambling route to the top. Kane and Nugara’s scrambling books don’t cover this area of the rockies, but Joey Ambrosi does include Mount Fisher in his Southern Rockies Trail Guide. In his words, “Views from the summit of Mount Fisher are astounding.” The trip is also described by Janice Strong in Mountain Footsteps 4th ed.
Access is via a Forestry Service Road. Some sections are in pretty rough shape. A high-clearance vehicle with robust tires is a necessity. We were able to navigate based on instructions from Cranbrook Tourism.
From the trailhead, we began a steep ascent through the woods. A kiosk is present a short distance up the trail with pictures pointing out key navigation spots along the route. The path was pretty obvious and we just had to go over or around a couple of fallen trees. Soon the path came alongside a creek cascading down from the valley above. We climbed along the right-hand side of the creek and eventually encountered the spot where it emerged from beneath a large rockfall. Crossing over the rocks it was fascinating to listen to the creek gurgling unseen beneath us.
The trail briefly levelled out as we moved onto the rockfall. There were cairns guiding us in the right general direction. A headwall with a cluster of small waterfalls coming down it came into view and we cut left into the woods, finding the trail and following it as it ascended above the waterfalls. We then came out into the elongated valley leading to the cirque beneath Mount Fisher and the connecting ridge between it and an unnamed southern outlier. We were able to identify the “notch” in the col which was the next objective for the ascent. We crossed some residual snow and started sharply uphill towards the col. Once at the col we turned left and followed cairns and a few bolted-on signs. Initially the route doesn’t go directly up the ridge but deviates slightly east (right) before swinging back for the last part of the ascent. After ascending the crux, marked by a bolt and ring, we were soon on the summit.
There was one solo trail runner and one group of two also on the mountain that day. The were moving faster than us and somewhat amusingly all three groups converged right at the crux, causing a miniature “Hillary Step” type traffic jam. The trail runner was a frequent visitor to the peak. The group of two were visiting from Calgary and Japan. One of them set up an interesting antenna for the purposes of a radio broadcast. This was something new for me, and the hiker explained that this was something called Summits on the Air. This article explains it a bit more.
After enjoying the summit views we made our way back to the col for a long break and some food. We took another long break down in the valley before heading back to the access road.
Click on the pictures in the gallery below to access higher resolution images.
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