Boom Mountain
Marta Wojnarowska, Zosia Zgolak and I scrambled up Boom Mountain on 11 July 2020 via the route described by Alan Kane in his guidebook, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies.  Although Boom Mountain sits on the Continental Divide, the ascent route is mainly via Chickadee Valley in British Columbia's Kootenay National Park.  The three of us were part of a larger group that aborted an attempt on the mountain in 2018 due to heavy rains, and although the weather forecast on this day promised to be dry and sunny, none of our other companions from that first attempt were available to join us.  For added assistance, I had a GPS track from Matthew Hobbs.

Starting from the Continental Divide trailhead (vault toilets) along Highway 93 at Vermilion Pass, we carefully crossed the highway and briefly followed a rocky drainage before settling into a lengthy thrash up Chickadee Valley.  Perhaps because I was already anticipating a nasty bushwhack, I felt quite sluggish right from the get-go.  Although there are certainly some arduous sections on the approach, the bushwhacking overall was not as bad as expected.  Often, we were able to follow game trails or the beaten paths of previous scramblers, and traversing the talus slopes along the south side of Boom Mountain provided some respite from the bushes.  We eventually reached the avalanche chute that Hobbs had ascended, and we followed suit.  Though technically easy, this chute is brutally steep, and I had a hard time keeping up with Marta and Zosia who seemed to float upwards with little effort.

Near the top of the avalanche chute, we began traversing to climber's left, first across a lightly forested rib and then across a more open slope of brownish dirt and rubble.  We turned uphill again when we reached a greyish gully, but we found it easier to ascend the broad slope to climber's left of this gully.  Although the cliff bands above this broad slope appeared daunting at first, the scrambling here is, at worst, moderately difficult, and an obvious weakness soon revealed itself which led us to easier terrain on the upper mountain.  The remaining easy plod to the true summit is longer than it looks but is otherwise uncomplicated.

After taking an extended break on the summit, we retreated back down the mountain more or less the same way.  The loose and steep terrain below the cliff bands made it challenging for us to descend without raining rocks down on each other.  We were able to take advantage of some scree runs here and there, but in general, our descent into the valley was cautiously slow and tedious.  Even then, Zosia did an involuntary somersault partway down one of the steep slopes, but aside from a few minor bruises, she managed to escape serious injury.  Adding to our misery were the relentless mosquitoes which were now out in force during the warmest part of the day.  The mosquitoes would hound us all the way out of Chickadee Valley, and while it would have made sense to stop and apply more bug spray, we all just wanted to keep moving steadily at this point and GTFO.  In fact, Marta did a great job of route-finding and leading us out the valley with fairly minimal thrashing although I did end up with soaked feet after we wandered through some boggy areas near the creek.

Rather shockingly, our round-trip time was nearly 12.5 hours, but that was solely because of my slow ass.  A big thank you goes out to both Marta and Zosia for their tireless patience; they were constantly stopping to wait for me to catch up.  I was not sick, but for whatever reason, I was unable to shake my general lethargy throughout the day.  I chalk it up as one of those days where I just did not have my mojo, or maybe I am just getting too old for this sort of suffering...and boom goes the dynamite.
Technically, we're already inside Kootenay National Park here. The route into Chickadee Valley begins along a creek just behind this highway sign.
The bushwhacking here is still not as bad as North Kintla Creek in Montana's Glacier National Park! While Marta climbs over a downed log, Zosia appears to be looking forward to the next three kilometres or so of bushwhacking up Chickadee Valley.
Don't go up here yet! Several talus slopes such as this one grant some respite from the bushiness of the approach.
It's a steep grind. Zosia and Marta begin climbing in earnest up an avalanche chute.
It's a good thing the big boulders don't move...much! Zosia and Marta work their way around larger boulders near the top of the avalanche chute.
There's a convenient goat trail here, but unfortunately it's short-lived. Marta and Zosia traverse across a lightly forested rib.
Just a little further before we can start grinding uphill again! The trees begin to thin out as Marta and Zosia continue traversing across the slope.
Hey, at least we're not bushwhacking! Marta resumes her uphill grind through a mix of slabs and rubble.
The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel! This gap in the cliffs grants easy access to the upper mountain.
Still some plodding ahead... Zosia hikes up easier terrain on the upper mountain.
Did anybody bring a wingsuit? The north side of Boom Mountain is characterized by precipitous cliffs.
What we came all the way here to see! Sonny enjoys the view of Boom Lake from the summit ridge of Boom Mountain.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

The true summit is only another 5 minutes away. As Zosia reaches the top of a false summit, Marta is already sitting on the true summit in the distance.
It wasn't pretty, but we made it! Sonny, Zosia and Marta stand on the summit of Boom Mountain (2753 metres).

I could name off a few more peaks in the distance, but who really cares?

Mount Whymper (left) is the most easily recognizable peak to the southwest.


The head of Chickadee Valley is a wild corner of Kootenay National Park that probably sees more visitors in winter than summer! The numerous peaks of Mount Goodsir peek over the intervening ridge to the west.
And some of the Ten Peaks are also visible, but I'll stick with what's obvious! Boom Lake is nearly obscured by cornices in this view to the northwest.  More readily visible are Quadra Mountain (centre), Mount Temple (right) and Mount Bell (far right).

Seems like a lifetime ago when I climbed these...

The panorama to the southeast includes Storm Mountain (far left), Mount Ball (centre) and Stanley Peak (right).


And...boom goes the dynamite!

Here is a more comprehensive view of Boom Lake from lower on Boom Mountain's summit ridge.  Note the crescent-shaped collection of driftwood at lower right from which the lake derives its name.


Too bad the sky was overcast! Zosia takes one last look at the amazing scenery to the northwest before following Marta down the summit ridge.
More classic shitty rocks in the Canadian Rockies! Marta watches as Zosia carefully descends a steep slope of loose rubble.
Descending these slopes sucks almost as much as ascending them! Zosia follows Marta across a treacherously slippery section of hard-packed dirt.
Not as easy as it looks here! Zosia and Marta hike out Chickadee Valley.
Where did all that time go? Total Distance:  14.6 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  12 hours 25 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1112 metres

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