Noseeum Mountain

Inspired by a recent trip report by Marko Stavric (who was inspired by Vern Dewit who, in turn, was inspired by Andrew Nugara), Bob Spirko invited me to join him for an ascent of Noseeum Mountain in Alberta's Banff National Park on 9 August 2014.  Starting from an undeveloped pullout along the Icefield Parkway, we hiked up the south side of Noseeum Creek on smatterings of a trail.  It did not take us long to clear the trees, and we were soon tip-toeing across rubble to the base of a steep headwall.  A steep trail goes up to climber's right of some cascades, but we had some trouble locating the start of the trail.  Unfazed, we scrambled up a steep gully and quickly found the trail higher up.  The trail led us through a short forested section and past another set of cascades where we suddenly came upon a large group of six hikers.  These hikers had actually started out before us, but they had climbed the headwall to climber's left of the cascades.  Furthermore, four of them were former acquaintances of Bob and had hiked or snowshoed with him in the past.  After some friendly introductions, we all decided to continue the trip together as one big group.

Above the headwall, we crossed a small plateau before scrambling up through a short cliff band to reach Noseeum Lake.  As Stavric had mentioned in his report, the lake and its surroundings are a worthy destination in their own right, and it was awfully tempting to just sit down and lounge about for the rest of the day.  Instead, we worked our way northward aiming for an obvious scree gully which grants access to the ridge crest leading to Noseeum Mountain's summit.  This gully is both steep and loose, and with such a large group, we had to be extra cautious to avoid knocking rocks down on each other.  Bob was the only one among us who had the forethought to bring a helmet, but ironically, he ended up climbing the gully without donning it!  From the col at the top of the gully, we enjoyed an easy hike all the way to the spacious summit of Noseeum Mountain.  For such an unassuming peak, the views from its summit on this day were extraordinary.

After an extended break, we more or less retraced our steps back to the col.  The gully again proved to be challenging due to the size of our group and the looseness of the rock.  Thankfully, we all made it down safely without a scrape, and after another short break, we continued our descent.  At the bottom of the headwall, we again encountered some route-finding difficulties, but after backtracking a bit, we finally found the correct access route--a shallow, eroded gully just to climber's left of the steep gully that Bob and I had climbed earlier in the day.  The rest of our hike out Noseeum Creek was trouble-free.

Overall, this was a really fantastic trip with outstanding scenery and just the right dose of quality suffering.  Sharing the experience with Bob and his acquaintances made the trip even better.  The other hikers turned out to be excellent company, and I look forward to running into them again on some other mountain in the future.

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report here.
Look! Someone brought along a helmet! Bob stops to fiddle with his pack near a boulder field.  Bow Peak is visible in the background.
Or you could muddle your way up through the trees on the left... The most popular route to surmount the headwall follows a steep trail to the right of the cascades.
The steep gully works as well but might be trickier to descend. Bob searches for a route up the cliffs.  He would eventually follow Sonny and climb up the steep gully ahead.  An easier route is just out of sight to the left.
We're off-route here, but it's all good fun regardless! Bob scrambles up the steep gully.
I wonder if this is an ice climb during the winter... Here is a closer look at the cascades from partway up the headwall.
Can you feel the negative ions (anions)? Bob traverses below these cascades near the top of the headwall.
Whoa! It got crowded around here all of a sudden!! Bob leads the multitude to the promised land!
Easy scrambling. The route continues up these easy ledges.
Where's the lake?? Bob crosses a small plateau above the headwall.
There are other feasible places to surmount the cliffs. The group scrambles up a break in the cliffs.

If they ever built an official trail up here, this place would be crawling with tourists!

"Noseeum Lake" is truly a hidden gem.

It's tempting to just kick back and lounge by the shore... Noseeum Mountain is reflected in Noseeum Lake.  The summit is the bump on the right.
It's odd that the Molar Glacier is located on an entirely separate mountain from Molar Mountain! Some of the other hikers are silhouetted against the Molar Glacier which covers much of Mount Andromache.
Looks fairly straightforward from a distance... The easiest access to the summit of Noseeum Mountain is via the scree gully to the right of centre.
Most tedious part of the trip right here! Bob leads a ragtag group of hikers up the scree slope.  The summit of Noseeum Mountain is at upper right.
Anyone bring a helmet?? The scree gully is steep and very loose.
Quality suffering! Progress is painfully slow going up the scree gully.
Stick to climber's right for better scrambling. The scree gully leads to a high col.
Looks like a challenging scramble! This outlier of Noseeum Mountain towers above the col.
Easy hiking from here to the summit. Bob continues hiking along the ridge.  At distant centre is Mount Balfour.
This was the view from the top of a sub-peak which can be easily bypassed. Bob and the others head for the summit.
Good, if you like walking on the edge... The north side of Noseeum Mountain is quite precipitous.

50% Asian content!

Gathered on the 3001-metre summit of Noseeum Mountain are (L to R) Bob, Sonny, Becky, Hanna, Zora, Wendy, Bernadette, and Jonathan.

Seracs galore! Here is a closer look at Mount Balfour to the southwest.
Maybe someday I'll visit those peaks... To the west, Bow Lake and Mount Thompson (centre) are the most obvious features.  At distant far right are some of the peaks of the Freshfield Icefield, and the snow-clad peak on the horizon just left of centre is Mount Mummery.

A stunning collection of peaks!

Stretching across the horizon behind Cirque Peak are (L to R) Mount Forbes, Mount Patterson, the Lyells, Howse Peak (centre), Mount Columbia (partially obscured by a small cloud), White Pyramid, Mount Chephren and Observation Peak.

Maybe try skiing Ramp Peak next winter? To the north are the three peaks of Mount Willingdon (right of centre).
I love unexpected glaciers! An unexpected glacier lies below the southeast ridge of Noseeum Mountain.
Best view of the day? Mount Hector and Noseeum Lake garner the most attention to the south.  Also visible to the right of Mount Hector are Little Hector and Mount Andromache.
Tired of looking at mountains yet?? Hector Lake is visible to the southwest.  The peaks on the horizon include (L to R) the Goodsirs, Cathedral Mountain, Mount Stephen (centre), Mount Vaux, and Mount Daly.
Specifically, Vern, Brigitte, Marko, Amelie, and Parry. There are a few familiar names in the summit register.
Hey, wait for me!!! The group (barely visible on the ridge) heads back toward a false summit.
Man, I just can't keep up with everybody! The group continues down the ridge to the crux gully.
Wonder if there are any naked people up there today... The shadows begin to lengthen on the northeast face of Dolomite Peak.
Lotsa bum sliding on this one! Descending the gully seems to be harder than climbing up!

Click here to see a video of this descent.

The lake really adds a lot to the scenery. The gully affords a fine perspective of Noseeum Lake and its environs.
I don't normally repeat trips, but I may have to come back here in the future... The group takes a break before the long trudge back to the trailhead.
It has been over 9 years since I climbed Little Hector--how time flies! Little Hector looks striking from the Noseeum Creek trailhead.
One of Banff National Park's best kept secrets! Total Distance:  13.7 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  9 hours 25 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1149 metres

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