Camel's Hump West
On our way to Castlegar, British Columbia (BC) on 30 December 2018, Zosia Zgolak and I stopped near Kootenay Pass to ski up a ridge unofficially known as Camel's Hump West.  A route description can be found at The route starts at an access road next to a chain-up area on the north side of Highway 3 about 5.3 kilometres east of Kootenay Pass.  Since the chain-up area is frequently used by large trucks (a sign here forbids parking for more than an hour), it is better to park a little further east at another pullout on the south side of the highway.

After carefully crossing the highway to the chain-up area, we strapped on our skis and proceeded up the access road which runs briefly through the forest before intersecting a wide power line/pipeline right-of-way.  Turning westward, we followed the right-of-way which climbs almost imperceptibly up the valley.  Although we were able to follow some old tracks, a recent fresh dump of snow ensured that we (or rather, Zosia) would be breaking trail for the entire ascent.  A few kilometres up the valley, the right-of-way turns southward and splits in two--one for the power line and one for the buried pipeline.  The two rights-of-way run parallel to each other for about half a kilometre before the pipeline splits for good to ascend Wolf Ridge to the west.  We essentially stuck with the power line until it, too, turned westward, and at this point, we began a steep grunt up a forested slope to gain the southwest ridge of Camel's Hump West.  Zosia was heroic in breaking a trail through fresh, untracked powder all the way up to the ridge crest, and even though I was following behind in her tracks, I still had a hard time keeping up with her.  Upon reaching the ridge crest, we turned northeast and had no difficulties climbing at a more moderate angle up to the heavily corniced high point.
I was feeling sluggish already probably because of the A&W breakfast I ate earlier! Zosia starts the long approach by following the power line.
Very gentle climb so far... The power line turns south here while the natural gas pipeline right-of-way splits off to the right.  The pipeline right-of-way runs parallel to the power line for the next half a kilometre or so.
Staying on course! After following the pipeline right-of-way for awhile, Zosia skis back under the power line which begins to rise near the head of the valley.
We're in for a bit of a steep grunt here... Zosia begins to climb more steeply as she turns away from the power line.
I and my slow ass thank you, Zosia! Zosia does a heroic job of breaking trail all the way up to the ridge crest.
I bet some people still ski there... On the ridge leading to Camel's Hump West, Zosia pauses to read a warning sign about the potential for avalanche control activities on the slopes to the right.  As such, these same slopes are off-limits to the public.

Yay! We made it!

Zosia approaches the top of Camel's Hump West.  Behind her, Kootenay Pass is at the top of the "S" in the highway.  Cornice Ridge is also visible at right.


Of course, it's sunny everywhere except here! Zosia and Sonny stand on the high point of Camel's Hump West (2056 metres).
Looks like a ski run built in the middle of nowhere! A pipeline right-of-way gives easy access to Wolf Ridge to the northwest.
We will definitely come back! To the south, The Crags (left of centre) and Baldy Rocks (right) are a couple more ski objectives to consider for the future.
After taking a short break on top, we removed our skins and skied back down the way we came.  As tempting as it was to ski the open south slopes directly back to the highway, this area is off-limits during winter because the BC Ministry of Transportation routinely does avalanche control work here.  Regardless, we had more than enough fun skiing down the bumpy ridge and the steep forested slope, and all too soon, we were back at the power line and retracing our tracks down the right-of-way.  Despite muddling through some long flat stretches and a couple of short uphill sections, we never had to put our skins back on and easily cruised back to the highway on our own broken trail.

Back at my car, we packed up and drove to Kootenay Pass where we stopped briefly to take a few photographs of our ski objective before resuming our journey to Castlegar.
Reminiscent of our ski back down Cornice Ridge. Zosia skis down the same ridge that she climbed up.
Or probably any other day in winter! The powder skiing in the trees is fantastic on this day.
Still a bit of a long slog to get back to the car from here... Zosia skis back down under the power line.

The forbidden slope on this side sure looks tempting to ski, doesn't it?

In this view from Kootenay Pass, some other skiers can be seen on the high point of Camel's Hump West.  Some avalanche control equipment is also visible just below the high point and on the right-hand ridge.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak


Long approach but the ski back down makes it all worthwhile. Total Distance:  11.1 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 45 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  630 metres

GPX Data