Numa Mountain

Zosia Zgolak and I hiked up Numa Mountain in British Columbia's Kootenay National Park on 12 September 2020.  Although it is not particularly striking, Numa Mountain is technically easy to climb, and its strategic location in the park guarantees splendid views in almost every direction on a clear day.  There is already a plethora of excellent trip reports available online, and it appears that the most popular ascent route utilizes a steep avalanche gully on the south side of the mountain which begins roughly halfway along the official trail to Floe Lake.  Many parties extend the hike with a visit to Floe Lake and complete a grand loop by returning on the official trail.  Zosia had never been to Floe Lake before (I had backpacked there in 1995), and a loop hike held a lot of appeal for both of us.  However, we opted to do the loop in a clockwise direction similar to what Kevin Barton and Andrew Nugara did in 2009.  It is certainly debatable, but in my opinion, the clockwise direction allows for a much gentler ascent which takes better advantage of the maintained trails for gaining elevation.

Starting from the Floe Lake trailhead (west side of Highway 93, 33 kilometres south of the junction with Trans-Canada Highway or 72 kilometres north of Radium Hot Springs), Zosia and I hiked the 11-kilometre long official trail to Floe Lake.  All major river or creek crossings are bridged, and other than a short washed-out section near the bottom of the headwall guarding the lake, the rest of the trail is generally well-maintained and easy to follow.  At about the 6.3-kilometre mark, we crossed the bottom of the avalanche gully used by other parties for the more direct route to the summit.  Ignoring it for the time being, we continued along the trail and up the headwall to reach Floe Lake less than four hours after starting out.  We took a short break before resuming our hike along the signed trail heading to Numa Pass.  Climbing out of the forest, we abandoned the trail well short of the pass and ascended easy grassy slopes to the top of a broad outlier lying between Numa Pass and its namesake mountain.  Turning eastward, we dropped about 90 metres to a col before grinding our way up a long but easy west-facing scree slope.  At the top of this slope, we went over a false summit and easily traversed to the true summit about 500 metres further to the east.  We managed to find a nice spot out of the wind just below the summit cairn where we took a well-deserved break.

To complete our loop, Zosia and I descended a large south-facing slope directly below the summit.  The looseness of the scree here was conducive for surfing, and we quickly lost a lot of elevation.  We then bypassed a prominent knob to the southeast of the summit before dropping down a very steep slope which eventually funnels into the aforementioned avalanche gully.  Hiking downhill here was brutal enough, and more than once, I wondered how anyone could possibly climb up this way.  Partway down, the gully narrows and becomes quite bushy, and on this day, there was even water flowing down a rocky drainage in the middle.  While I stayed to skier's left of the drainage which was largely choked with vegetation, Zosia inadvertently ended up to skier's right and found herself in some rather tricky terrain with some alarming drop-offs.  Fortunately, she was able to down-climb this short but nasty section and eventually rejoined me on the easier side of the drainage.  The gully widens again below here, and the remainder of the descent to the trail, though technically easy, was tedious and wearisome.  Once we regained the trail, we put our gears into cruise control and marched back to the trailhead without any further drama.
Looks like some potentially good ski runs in winter! The results of relatively recent wildfires in Kootenay National Park are still evident as Zosia begins hiking the trail to Floe Lake.
At least the mosquitoes are finally dead for the season! Fall colours (and temperatures) are already present on this day.
Still a long way to go...just to get to the lake! Impressive cliffs rise up as Zosia ventures further up the valley.
We'll get there...just not directly! Near the head of the valley, there is a glimpse of the top of Numa Mountain (left) to the north.
Even with a trail, it's a real grind to get up the headwall. Zosia keeps following the trail as it climbs up the headwall guarding Floe Lake.
It's a tough lake to photograph up close. Sonny arrives at Floe Lake.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

I wonder if Foster Peak can be scrambled. Zosia hikes the trail to Numa Pass.  At left is the impressive east face of Foster Peak.
World-class scenery! Sonny emerges from the forest with Floe Lake in the background.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Looks like a great ski slope. Zosia leaves the trail short of Numa Pass and climbs up a grassy slope.
The hikers were whooping and hollering like they just climbed Mount Everest! Here is a better view of Foster Peak at left.  Some hikers can be seen at Numa Pass at far right.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Maybe last time ever?

Here is a last look at Floe Lake.


Lotsa scree slogging ahead!

Zosia gets her first good look at Numa Mountain.  The true summit is not visible here.


Good time to catch a breather! Zosia descends about 90 metres to an intervening col.
The scree is actually pretty good to climb up. After dropping down to the col, Zosia resumes climbing up easy scree.
Some easy scrambling required. Zosia picks up a beaten path below a false summit.
The end is in sight. Zosia makes her way along the ridge toward the true summit.

Keep right to bypass any trouble spots.

The remaining bumps along the summit ridge present no serious difficulties.


Zosia is holding the summit register. Sonny and Zosia stand on the summit of Numa Mountain (2718 metres).
Seems like a lifetime ago when I backpacked The shorts! The rest of The Rockwall can be seen to the northwest.  The top of Mount Goodsir is also visible on the right horizon.
The unnamed ridge looks like an attractive objective for the future. Many of the Ten Peaks and Mount Temple can be seen on the northern horizon.  The ridge in the foreground is unnamed.
There's some scree surfing to be found here! Zosia leaves the summit to descend a broad scree slope on the south side of Numa Mountain.  At centre on the horizon is Mount Verendrye.
Poor neglected knob! Most peak-baggers who tag the summit of Numa Mountain probably do not bother climbing this knob.  The usual route for Numa Mountain bypasses this knob at far right.
Knee-jarring...period. Zosia drops down a steep slope aiming for the valley far below.
I can't even imagine climbing up Numa Mountain this way! The descent to the valley is long and tedious.
Don't worry. She's a tough cookie and found a way down! Zosia finds herself in a bit of a bushy mess on the wrong side of the drainage.
The gully looks innocuous here, but I would not recommend going up this way. Sonny descends the final slope before reaching the main trail.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

A long but very rewarding trip. Total Distance:  25.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  11 hours 48 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  1825 metres

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