A light drizzle greeted us as we drove out to the trailhead at Johnson Lake, and the weather did not look promising in the morning. After hiking around Johnson Lake, we continued eastward through some light bush to reach the major drainage emanating from the south side of Mount Girouard. Travel up this drainage was initially very easy, but as we progressed further upstream, we had to negotiate through increasing amounts of deadfall likely deposited as a result of the biblical floods of 2013. The tedium of boulder-hopping was somewhat alleviated by an abundance of ripe raspberries everywhere. Both Marko and I could not resist stopping constantly to stuff our greedy mouths, but this also slowed our pace considerably.
Just before a major fork in the drainage, we took to the steep embankment on climber's left and headed up through light forest before emerging from the last trees onto a vast field of rubble. We continued up this field of rubble into a large amphitheatre bounded on one side by Mount Girouard and on the other by Mount Peechee. By now, the weather had improved significantly, and so had our outlook on this ascent. Still a little unsure of the exact route, we made an educated guess and headed straight up toward some impressive pinnacles on the north side of the amphitheatre. The route actually unfolded itself for us as we worked our way up the path of least resistance to climber's right of the pinnacles. We eventually crested the southwest ridge, and from there, it is a short but miserable grovel up horribly loose rubble to reach the summit ridge and cairn. Views from the top were breathtaking, but the enormity of the long approach made us limit our summit stay to less than half an hour.
Monotonous and tedious would aptly describe our return trip. Though uneventful, the hike out was both physically and mentally taxing as evidenced by my sore feet and abundant whining. Eating more raspberries on the way out only prolonged the agony. Darkness fell upon us while we were still in the bushes short of Johnson Lake, and while I had foolishly neglected to bring a headlamp, I was able to follow Marko who had the foresight to bring his. Although we ended the trip in the dark, this allowed us an opportunity to witness some spectacular Northern lights on the drive home.
Overall, the route up Mount Girouard is nothing more than a lengthy off-trail hike with very minimal scrambling, and though the approach is grueling, the summit views are well-worth the suffering to get there. A little over a month after our ascent, Vern Dewit and Steven Song paid a visit to Mount Girouard and have since posted trip reports. With the "explosion" of route information now available on the Internet, it is likely that Mount Girouard will see more visits in the future.
Be sure to check out Marko's fabulous
photos of this trip. Marko and Sonny stand on the 3020-metre* summit of
Mount Girouard. * Taken from my own GPS reading.
Most publications and topographic maps give Mount Girouard an elevation
of 2995 metres. Mount Peechee is the next mountain to the southeast. Here is a more comprehensive look at Mount Peechee
and the amphitheatre below its west face.
Cascade Mountain is reflected in
Marko hikes up the broad drainage.
At least one anticline is visible in
the exposed rock on the edge of the creek bed.
An abundance of deadfall in the creek
bed makes for tedious travel.
Marko progresses beyond the last
Marko slogs up more rubble.
The ascent route goes up this drainage
before veering to the right below the pinnacles.
The route becomes steeper here and
eventually follows the right-hand skyline.
Marko is barely visible on the summit
Marko casually strolls along the ridge
toward the summit.
Mount Assiniboine stands out to the
To the north across Lake Minnewanka is
The unmistakable form of Devils Head
pokes up to the northeast.
The view to the east includes Mount
Costigan (left) and the eastern half of Lake Minnewanka.
This is looking back down at the
access drainage from the summit. Mount Rundle is visible in the
Marko begins the long descent.
Mount Girouard's companion peak to the
west is Mount Inglismaldie.
Marko stops on the way out to gorge on
Distance: 23.4 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 14 hours 41 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 1589 metres
Marko and Sonny stand on the 3020-metre* summit of Mount Girouard.
* Taken from my own GPS reading. Most publications and topographic maps give Mount Girouard an elevation of 2995 metres.
Mount Peechee is the next mountain to the southeast.
Here is a more comprehensive look at Mount Peechee and the amphitheatre below its west face.