Hollebeke Mountain
On 27 June 2020, Alda Sigvaldason, Marta Wojnarowska, Zosia Zgolak and I made the long drive to Alberta's Castle Wildland Provincial Park to ascend Hollebeke Mountain.  Named after a Belgium village where Canadian troops fought during World War I, Hollebeke Mountain is small in stature but commands far-reaching views in all directions due to its prime location along the Continental Divide.  I knew that local climber, Brandon Boulier, had recently climbed the mountain via the route pioneered by Matthew Clay, and with the weather forecast promising little to no rain in the area, I felt confident that we could successfully reach the summit as well.

There are a number of ways to access the trailhead for Hollebeke Mountain, but I believe the following driving route description is probably the shortest.  From Highway 3, turn south onto East Hillcrest Drive about 11 kilometres west of the junction with Highway 22.  Follow East Hillcrest Drive for 2.4 kilometres to the junction with Adanac Road.  This junction can also be accessed from the west via 232 Street in the town of Hillcrest (drive southeast past the intersection with 12 Avenue for 1.4 kilometres).  Drive south along Adanac Road for 14 kilometres to a 3-way intersection with Carbondale Road and Napay Road.  Keep right and drive west along Carbondale Road (passing Lynx Creek campground which has vault toilets) for 4.2 kilometres to an intersection with Lost Creek Road.  Turn right and drive west along Lost Creek Road for 2.5 kilometres to another junction.  Keep left on a rougher road (high-clearance vehicle recommended) and drive a bumpy 3.6 kilometres to the signed North Kootenay Pass trailhead just before a foot bridge.

From the trailhead, we crossed the foot bridge and hiked the road leading to North Kootenay Pass for about 3.1 kilometres until we reached the signed junction with a side road leading to Macdonald Pass.  Turning left, we hiked up the side road for about 3.4 kilometres to reach Macdonald Pass.  Along the way, we had to ford a tributary of Macdonald Creek and also cross a couple of large and somewhat uncomfortably steep snow patches covering the road.  At Macdonald Pass, we left the road and weaved through a bit of bush before climbing up the ridge to the west.  Although technically easy, the climb from the pass to the ridge top is brutally steep, and rockfall can be a real hazard if there is a large group ascending here.  The top of the ridge is also a bit bushy, but careful route-finding allowed us to continue westward with very little thrashing.  Following the crest of the Continental Divide, we dropped into a slight dip before climbing over a higher unnamed bump.  While this bump initially looked demoralizing to me, climbing it was much easier than expected, and we were soon dropping down the far side onto a huge plateau just before the final climb to the top of Hollebeke Mountain.  This final slope was also fairly easy to ascend, and it was not long before we were all relaxing beside the huge summit cairn.  As I had already mentioned, the elevation of Hollebeke Mountain is not particularly high; yet, the views from its summit are surprisingly impressive.  We had a lot of fun trying to identify numerous peaks both near and distant in all directions.

On our return trip, we tried to sidehill bash around the unnamed bump, but we ended up climbing nearly over the top anyway.  Just before the steep descent back to Macdonald Pass, we stopped for another extended break to snack and exchange more war stories.  I think Alda and Marta even contemplated traversing toward Mount McCarty, but the complicated terrain east of Macdonald Pass likely quashed any serious ambitions to do so.  Instead, we easily descended to the pass after our break, and except for the added challenge of descending the aforementioned snow patches and fording the tributary, the hike back to the trailhead was long but uneventful.

We drove through several heavy rain storms on our way back to Calgary, and as such, I am very grateful for the generally pleasant weather we enjoyed throughout our hike.  Even better was sharing the trail with most excellent company.
They could use another one on the trail to Macdonald Pass! Several bridges like this one simplify the approach.
I almost managed to rock-hop this creek...almost... Zosia and Marta ford a tributary of Macdonald Creek.
Still some good skiing to be had! Marta follows Alda up a lingering snow patch covering the trail to Macdonald Pass.
Pace yourself--there's more climbing to come! The climb above Macdonald Pass is brutally steep.
Not as bad as the initial climb above Macdonald Pass. From the top of the ridge west of Macdonald Pass, the route dips slightly before climbing over this unnamed bump along the Continental Divide.

Another drop in elevation...sigh.

Hollebeke Mountain finally comes into view from the top of the unnamed bump.


We could play soccer here! The eastern slopes of Hollebeke Mountain present no significant difficulties.

Wonderful company!

Sonny, Marta, Zosia and Alda gather around the summit cairn of Hollebeke Mountain (2400 metres).


Both these peaks are on my to-do list! The view to the northwest includes Mount Borsato (left) and Centre Mountain (second bump from far right).
Surprisingly, most of the other prominent peaks here along the Continental Divide are unnamed. The most recognizable peak to the north is Mount Darrah (centre in shadow).
Will maybe go up McCarty later this year... Behind the unnamed bump to the east is Mount McCarty.  Also visible at distant right are two of the three peaks of Syncline Mountain.
Or as Zosia would say, "Horse-pack Peak"! Notable peaks to the southeast include St. Eloi Mountain (left), Mount Haig (left of centre), Tombstone Mountain (right of centre), and Packhorse Peak (right).
Will have to go back for Swope and Overfold in the future...maybe the far future! Visible to the southwest are Mount Doupe (left), Mount Swope (right), and Overfold Mountain (farther right).
There is definitely a lot more to explore in the Flathead region. Mount Broadwood (right of centre) stands out on the western horizon.
She probably would have done it if we weren't slowing her down! Alda contemplates a possible traverse to Mount McCarty.
Too lazy to dig out my ice axe! Sonny follows Alda down one of the snow patches covering the trail below Macdonald Pass.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

It actually felt good on my sore feet! Sonny gets a shock from the cold water as he begins to re-cross the tributary of Macdonald Creek.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

More strenuous than expected! Total Distance:  20.0 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  9 hours 50 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  1383 metres

GPX Data