Flood Mountain
Wrapping up the year in Grande Cache, Alberta, Zosia Zgolak and I completed a ski ascent of Flood Mountain on 31 December 2020.  As described in the Grande Cache & Area Hiking & Adventure Map brochure, Flood Mountain's ascent route--mostly an old exploration road--is part of the Canadian Death Race which is held annually here on the August long weekend.  Although we were unsure if we could even ski up Flood Mountain, we were encouraged to make an attempt given some fresh overnight snowfall over the area.

Turn north onto a logging road from Highway 40 about 127 kilometres west of the junction with Highway 16 or 11 kilometres east of Grande Cache.  Park in a large pullout immediately to the right.

Although I probably could have driven an additional two kilometres up the logging road, Zosia and I were a bit leery about venturing onto snowy back roads after our ordeal a few days earlier trying to approach Mount Hamell.  Instead, we started skiing from the pullout near the highway, and fortunately, there was enough snow coverage to make this feasible.  The logging road forks about 1.5 kilometres from the start, and after some trial and error, we determined that the left fork is the correct one for approaching Flood Mountain.  About 500 metres past the fork, we reached a signed turnoff to a narrower exploration road.  Lots of rocks were protruding above the thin snow at the start of the exploration road, but after tiptoeing past this section, we found better coverage beyond.  We soon settled into a comfortable but somewhat dull plod up the lengthy road which is mostly forested with very little in the way of views.  There are a few annoying elevation losses along the road, and already in the back of our minds, we knew that we would be re-applying our climbing skins at some point on the way out.  Roughly five kilometres from the turnoff, we reached a signed four-way junction.  While the right fork is a more direct but steeper route to the summit, we instead continued straight along the road which climbs more gently up the mountain's west ridge.  Although snow coverage was thin again near the top, we still managed to ski all the way up to the summit which is adorned with the now-familiar mailbox that is part of the Passport to the Peaks program.

Exposed to a chilly wind, Zosia and I stayed on the summit for only twenty-five minutes before commencing our descent.  Although we removed our climbing skins, we continued to free-heel ski--essentially telemarking in our AT gear--since there are so many flat spots along the road.  Consequently, the descent of some steeper sections were a little hairy, but fortunately, we had plenty of powder to snow plow on when we really needed it.  As expected, we had to re-apply our skins for about a 1.5-kilometre stretch on the way out, and the extra elevation gain was both annoying and wearisome.  The skiing became more enjoyable once we removed our skins for good, and other than walking the short rocky section before regaining the logging road, the remaining ski back to our starting point was generally problem-free.
Luckily there was enough fresh snow to ski on!

Zosia skis along a logging road on the approach to Flood Mountain.

Very marginal skiing here!

Snow coverage is rather thin at this signed turnoff onto an exploration road.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak


Much of the exploration road going up Flood Mountain is like this.

Not the most graceful moment for me...

Sonny has some trouble climbing over a downed tree blocking the road.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Still a long way to go... The upper parts of Flood Mountain come into view.
Don't take short cuts! At a four-way junction, the right fork is the more direct but steeper hiking trail to the summit while the left fork is the connector trail to Grande Mountain.  Zosia would stay on the road and go straight.
At least the slight change of scenery is nice.

The road continues past some minor cliff bands.

And there's even some sunshine!

Views of Mount Hamell open up behind Sonny as he emerges from the forest.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Almost there...finally!

The top of Flood Mountain comes into view.

A hard-won summit to be sure.

Sonny and Zosia stand on the summit of Flood Mountain (1826 metres).

Hard to believe we could hike up Mount Louie and then ski up this mountain!

Mount Louie (left of centre) and Grande Cache Lake are visible to the south.

All those clear-cuts might have potential for backcountry skiing.

To the southwest is Grande Mountain.

This one is now high on my to-do list!

Here is a closer look at Mount Hamell to the west.


We definitely had a few scratches on the bottoms of our skis. Zosia carefully skis down from the summit on fairly thin snow coverage.
We basically telemarked with our AT gear the whole way back! The ski back along the road offers some thrilling descents.
Nice hurdle for the Canadian Death Race! This downed tree is a little easier to get past.
Walking down on the loose rocks wasn't easy either! Sonny walks down the rocky section at the signed turnoff.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

An awesome finish to the trip. Zosia enjoys a fast cruise back down the logging road.
Possibly a first ski ascent? Total Distance:  18.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  7 hours 14 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  932 metres

GPX Data