After spending the previous night in a hotel in the nearby town of Hope, I was hoping for some favourable weather as I drove to the trailhead at Lightning Lake on the morning of 5 September 2015. The hike to the East Summit is long but not difficult. The trail starts off with some nicely graded switchbacks before climbing steadily up onto a broad plateau. A long flat stretch leads to open meadows with an abundance of larches--a good reason to do this trip in the Fall. The trail then climbs up to a junction on the east ridge of Frosty Mountain before terminating at the East Summit. On this Saturday, the trail was very busy all the way from the trailhead to the East Summit, and fresh snow on some sections of trail did not deter most hikers. A cool breeze on the East Summit had most people there hunkered down inside a large wind break which some have referred to as the "hot tub". Rather than stopping to socialize, I continued along the connecting ridge to the West Summit. This involves descending loose rubble to a col before climbing over and around several pinnacles along the ridge. Some route-finding is necessary here as there are no cairns or beaten paths to help point the way. I tended to stay to climber's left of the ridge crest to bypass the more difficult sections.
It took me about 90 minutes to traverse between the East and West Summits. After a brief stop on the West Summit, I easily hiked over a couple more bumps to the westernmost high point of the summit ridge. On the strength of some vague recollections about a trip report that mentions ascending Frosty Mountain from the west end of Lightning Lake, I continued down the northwest ridge in hopes of completing a similar loop only in reverse. I had no issues reaching tree line, but from there, the descent became a lot more complicated. After a short bushwhack through some tedious undergrowth, I came upon an obvious drainage which was initially easy to descend. As I lost elevation though, the drainage became increasingly choked with vegetation and deadfall. The steep angle of the slope and some flowing water also made the footing in the drainage treacherously slippery, and I eventually abandoned it to take my chances in the trees. This was no picnic either as I had to contend with probably some of the most heinous bushwhacking I have ever endured. A lot of thrashing and cursing ensued, and I was mentally frazzled by the time I finally stumbled out of the bushes onto the trail on the south side of Flash Lake. I took a quick break here to re-fuel and to rid myself of any lingering profanities before commencing a long march back to the trailhead in the dark. Thankfully, the drive back to my hotel in Hope was short, and I enjoyed a restful sleep before heading home the next day.
In retrospect, I am not certain if there is a
better line to take to get down Frosty Mountain's northwest ridge
although any other line could not, in all probability, be any worse than
the one I took. After re-examining the aforementioned trip report,
I am somewhat curious about where the author had gone up the ridge
seemingly unbothered by the nasty bush. However, I
am definitely not curious enough to go back and find out firsthand.
*As measured with my GPS.
Castle Peak on the American side of the border dominates the view to
Lightning Lake is one of the most
popular places to visit in Manning Provincial Park.
The rustic cabin at Frosty Creek Camp
is a nice place to take a break on the way to Frosty Mountain.
Frosty Mountain comes into view as the
trees thin out.
Larch trees are abundant on the
approach to the East Summit (right).
From this vantage point, it is
difficult to tell which bump on the ridge is the West Summit.
A couple of backpackers work their way
up the ridge.
A group of hikers descend the trail in
front of the East Summit.
A number of hikers can be seen on the
east ridge of Frosty Mountain.
The trail junction to Windy Joe
Mountain sits on the crest of the ridge.
Here is the view of both the East
Summit and West Summit from the trail junction.
This is looking back along the east
ridge from near the East Summit.
Hikers try to huddle out of the chilly
wind on the East Summit (2397 metres*) of Frosty Mountain.
The connecting ridge to the West
Summit is a Class 3 scramble.
This is looking back up at the East
Summit from near the low point of the connecting ridge.
Several pinnacles guard the connecting
ridge to the West Summit.
This pinnacle can be circumvented at
Sonny kneels on the West Summit (2416 metres)
of Frosty Mountain.
Lying southwest of the East Summit,
the two tarns in the hanging valley at bottom right are on the
Canadian side of the border.
Here is a closer look at Castle Peak.
Despite earlier appearances from the
approach trail, the remaining high points along the west ridge are
The next high point along the ridge
grants this view of the West Summit's dramatic north face.
The westernmost high point is only a
few minutes away.
Here is another look at the East
Summit and West Summit of Frosty Mountain from the westernmost high
The broad northwest ridge looks
inviting as an alternate descent route. Lightning Lake is
partially visible at right.
Here is one last look at Frosty
Mountain from its northwest ridge.
From this vantage point on the
northwest ridge just above tree line, Lightning Lake appears to be
three separate lakes. Visible on the horizon are Fourth Brother
Mountain (left of centre) and the three peaks of Three Brothers
A drainage provides some relief from
the thick bush.
Total Distance: 21.1 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 10 hours 17 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 1165 metres
*As measured with my GPS.
Castle Peak on the American side of the border dominates the view to the south.