As previously documented by Andrew Nugara, the ascent of Swiftcurrent Mountain is not technically difficult given that an official hiking trail runs all the way to the summit. That suited me just fine as I settled into an enjoyable walk up the very scenic Swiftcurrent Creek valley. With an abundance of lakes, waterfalls and open meadows, this valley is deservedly popular especially with casual hikers. Not surprisingly, most of them do not proceed beyond the last of the lakes to the headwall where the trail begins to climb in earnest. I am always amazed when a well-constructed trail rises through seemingly impassable terrain as is the case here. For me, ascending the headwall was a delight. The grade never felt too strenuous, and the airiness of the trail afforded some amazing vistas which had me reaching for my camera often.
Higher up, I began to encounter more and more snow patches, and the trail disappeared in a few places as a result. Fortunately, the snow was well-consolidated and easy to walk upon, and there were also plenty of footprints to follow and stay on track. From the signed junction at Swiftcurrent Pass, I turned onto a spur trail and climbed about another 400 metres to the summit which is occupied by a fire lookout. The lookout is actually visible from the pass as well as most of the way up this last stretch which makes the summit look a lot closer than it really is. Consequently, the climb up to the summit from the pass seemingly felt much longer than it should have been.
I initially had the summit all to myself but
was soon joined by several other groups of hikers, most of them coming up
from the shorter western approach via Granite Park. After taking a
half-hour break on the summit, I began retracing my steps back down the
mountain. My return trip was largely uneventful although my feet
were definitely in distress for the last few kilometres. It had
also been a warm day, and I felt a bit grungy compared to the multitude
of fresh-looking casual hikers out for an evening stroll. What a
relief it was to change into some clean clothes back at my car! As
a bonus, it was nice to be able to pick up some refreshments immediately
from the convenience store at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn before making the
long drive home. Here is a closer look at Heavens Peak. To the
left is Mount Vaught. Sonny stands near the 2564-metre summit of
Swiftcurrent Mountain looks striking
from the east. On the left is Swiftcurrent Pass.
Here is a more comprehensive view of
Swiftcurrent Mountain from the approach trail.
Bullhead Lake is a popular place to
stop for many hikers.
Swiftcurrent Pass is guarded on the
east by this spectacular headwall.
Mount Henkel (left) and Altyn Peak
(right) make a colourful backdrop to Bullhead Lake.
This is one of the more impressive
waterfalls cascading down the headwall.
The views of Swiftcurrent Creek valley
improve with each step up the headwall.
Windmaker Lake sits at the foot of the
south face of Mount Wilbur.
Here is a close-up aerial view of
The southern slopes of Swiftcurrent
Mountain are still mostly covered with snow.
Heavens Peak is a real eye-catcher to
the southwest from Swiftcurrent Pass.
The lookout building on top of
Swiftcurrent Mountain is visible from the trail junction at
A good trail runs all the way to the
Even the biffy near the top has great
The lookout building is closed and
unmanned on this day.
The plethora of named peaks visible on
the horizon to the north include (L to R) Cathedral Peak, Mount Kipp,
Stony Indian Peaks (multiple pointy peaks), Mount Cleveland, Ipasha
Peak (big snow patch), Mount Merritt, Cosley Ridge (triangle on top
of glacier), Natoas Peak, and Iceberg Peak.
In this view to the southwest, Mount
Vaught and Heavens Peak are at left while Longfellow Peak is at far
The Logan Pass area is at far left in
this view to the south.
The view to the southeast is dominated
by Mount Gould's impressive north face. Also visible in the
distance at left is Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.
Iceberg Peak's striking form deserves
a second look.
Also worth another look is Mount
Wilbur's south face.
Lakes abound in this view to the east.
A golden-mantled ground squirrel
pauses to scrutinize yet another hiker disturbing its peace.
There are quite a few dead trees on
the slopes of Swiftcurrent Mountain.
Barely visible through the dead forest
are the Granite Park Chalets.
A hoary marmot peers over the edge of
a drop-off beside the trail.
Sonny continues hiking down the
Here is one last look at some bear
Distance: ~22.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 8 hours 51 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 1118 metres
Here is a closer look at Heavens Peak. To the left is Mount Vaught.
Sonny stands near the 2564-metre summit of Swiftcurrent Mountain.