Boot Hill and Tombstone Mountain are featured in Nugara’s More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies 3rd ed. as potential extensions on a trip to the summit of Mount Haig. The whole trip involves a great deal of gain, loss, and re-gain of elevation resulting in 2650 m of total ascent by Nugara’s estimation. Since I’d already climbed Haig in 2019, I decided to try Vern Dewit’s route which traversed from Haig’s east ridge to the southern col. This avoided roughly 300m of ascent on both the outward and return journey. Since the most of the group I was hiking with had also previously summited Haig this was everybody’s preferred plan.
Access is the same as for Mount Haig (follow link above). We ascended to a point a short distance below Haig’s distinctive white rock band and began to traverse along the south face. This brought us around the mountain a very short distance above the col between Mount Haig and high point between it and Boot Hill. Dewit referred to this high point as “the bump”. One of my hiking companions, Bhaskar, named it “Sock Hill”. After walking up to Sock Hill’s summit we did a bit of scrambling down rock bands, heading down towards the col between Sock Hill and Boot Hill. To ascend Boot Hill we went straight up the east ridge. In one spot it would have been preferable to deviate to climber’s left but there was still a large snow patch in that area. Therefore, we stuck to the ridge and were able to find a route that remained in the Kane/Nugara “moderate” scrambling category. We soon reached Boot Hill’s false summit and got our first full view of Tombstone Mountain.
A short climb later we were on Boot Hill’s summit and considering our approach to Tombstone. There was a visible goat trail traversing across the east slopes of the mountain, but it went directly into a snow patch which we wanted to avoid. We decided to make our traverse well above the level of the snow. We managed to make our way across the eastern slope and around the corner to the southeast aspect of the mountain. Continuing to traverse, we eventually caught sight of Tombstone’s south ridge. Once a clear path was visible we angled upwards to join the ridge, then endured a slog up scree and rubble to the summit of Tombstone Mountain. It took 6h 54m from the parking lot. We took some time to enjoy the achievement. The knowledge that a prolonged return trip with plenty of ascent and (worse) side-hilling still lay before us dampened enthusiasm somewhat. The weather was holding, but the wind was picking up a bit and we could tell that as the afternoon wore on some precipitation was a possibility.
For our return trip we retraced our route, though we did avoid a bit of ascent by cutting across below Boot Hill’s summit and traversing to the eastern ridge (hooray, more side-hilling). We were delayed a bit when part of the group ended up too low on the traverse back around Tombstone and found themselves facing the large snow patch. In the end they dropped down below it and had to deal with a fairly long climb back up to the col. Luckily, although patches of rain passed nearby we never felt more than an occasional drop. By the time we got back to the parking lot I was on the last sips of the 4 litres of water I’d packed and I was thrilled to stop walking.
Click on the pictures in the gallery below to access higher resolution images.