Located along the southern border of British
Columbia's Goat Range Provincial Park, Mount Brennan attracts a lot of
attention from peak-baggers due to its lofty elevation and relatively
easy access. A long but non-technical ascent route is described in
Kathy & Craig Copeland's guidebook, Where Locals Hike in the West
Kootenay. With stellar weather in the forecast, Zosia Zgolak
and I decided to give the route a try on 16 August 2020.
From Highway 31A, turn north onto Rossiter Creek Forest Service Road
(should be okay for 2WD vehicles) 24 kilometres east of New Denver or 23
kilometres west of Kaslo. Drive for 1.1 kilometres and keep left at
a junction. Drive for another 1.3 kilometres and keep left at a
second junction. Continue driving an additional 4.6 kilometres to
the signed trailhead at a switchback just past a large parking area.
After spending a restless night at the trailhead (loud music was blaring
from an all-nighter party on some nearby private property), Zosia and I
groggily started up the steep trail behind the trailhead sign. We
soon intersected a road, quite possibly a continuation of the same one we
drove in on. Turning left, we descended the road to cross a bridge
over Lyle Creek. On the far side of the bridge is a wooden ladder
leaning against a steep embankment. We climbed up the ladder and
followed a trail through the forest before emerging onto yet another
road. Turning right, we followed this reclaimed road into a huge
basin highlighted by an obvious waterfall and also a couple of long steel
cables--the remnants of an old aerial mining tramway. The road ends
at the old trailhead where a fallen sign lies next to a trail heading
into the tall undergrowth. This trail climbs up the headwall
guarding the upper basin which contains a number of tarns unofficially
known as Lyle Lakes. The climb up the headwall is long, but the
grade is quite reasonable. However, it is sobering to realize that
reaching Lyle Lakes is only the halfway point to the top of Mount Brennan
in terms of both distance and elevation gain. This is a big
Arriving at Lyle Lakes, Zosia and I climbed a little higher on the trail and
took a short break before resuming our ascent. The trail ascends a steep
drainage and ultimately peters out near an old mine site. From there, the
remainder of the ascent is little more than a long slog up generally easy
terrain. We tried to avoid lingering snow patches initially, but later
on, we took advantage of them to alleviate some of the drudgery of
ascending rubble. The numerous cairns here are largely superfluous
many route variations are possible.
The far-reaching views from the summit on this day were breathtaking. Zosia and I lingered here for
1.5 hours before reluctantly beginning the
long descent. Without ice axes, we steered clear of steeper snow patches,
but we boot-skied many of the shallower ones. Leaving the snow to descend
rubble and slabs felt a little tedious at times, but we nevertheless made
our way down to the old mine site without any drama. Regaining the trail
there, we cruised back to the Lyle Lakes and subsequently down the
headwall. The worst thing about the headwall was having the hot afternoon
sun beat down on us as we descended it. We moved as quickly as we could
through here in order to reach the shady side of the lower basin. Once we
were out of the sun, we enjoyed a more relaxing hike back to the
Whitewater Mountain (left) and Mount Dryden (right) sit
to the west. Inverness Mountain and Marten Mountain can be seen
through the gap just right of centre.
To the northwest, Mount Stubbs (left) and Mount Cooper
(centre) are located in a remote part of Goat Range Provincial Park.
Mount Davis sits to the northeast. At centre on the horizon is the
As Zosia leaves the summit, wildfire smoke can be seen in the distance at
Zosia descends a sun-kissed snow patch.
Sonny tries glissading a snow patch.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
Here is a last look at the Lyle Lakes.
Distance: 16.3 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 11 hours 45 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 1587 metres