On 17 July 2021, Zosia Zgolak and I hiked up
Mount Kuleski located just west of Sparwood, British Columbia.
Ephraim Roberts ascended this mountain via the south ridge last fall
under snowy conditions and posted his GPS track on
AllTrails.com, but we would use a different starting point that saves
about five hundred metres of elevation gain and entails minimal
bushwhacking. Like many other mountains in the vicinity, Mount
Kuleski is named in honour of a local
soldier killed in the line of duty during World War 2.
From Highway 3, turn onto Beese Road (2WD gravel) 2 kilometres west of
Hosmer or 9 kilometres east of Fernie. Ignore all side roads and
drive northward for 7.8 kilometres (going through Brooks Creek Ranch) to
a Y-junction. Take the left fork (high-clearance vehicle strongly
recommended) and drive 4.7 kilometres up the winding road (the road
crosses a power line right-of-way about 1.6 kilometres from the
Y-junction) to another junction. Keep straight (right) at this
second junction and continue driving for another 1.1 kilometres to road's
end at a large clearing with scenic views. Park here. An
unmarked trail heads into the bushes on the north side of the road about
100 metres before the clearing.
Zosia and I missed seeing the unmarked trail at the beginning, and we
simply waded into the moderate bush from where we parked. It did
not take long before we stumbled onto the aforementioned trail which
essentially runs along the crest of a forested ridge leading to the main
spine of Mount Kuleski. Despite occasional deadfall and encroaching
undergrowth, the trail is generally easy to follow, and there is even
some evidence of trail maintenance which means that there is some regular
traffic here (probably hunters). At one point, we noticed a wide
dirt road running parallel to our trail, but not knowing where the road
went, we elected to stick to the trail and ridge crest which I think was
prudent. We later climbed up a narrower section of ridge with open
views to the south of McCool Creek drainage which Roberts used for his
approach. While Roberts ended up climbing over a notable grassy
high point at the juncture of our ridge and the main spine of Mount
Kuleski, we stayed low on the trail which bypasses the high point before
petering out in a large glade at a dip in the ridge. While we
should have climbed up the other side of the dip, we got suckered into
following another trail which stayed well below the ridge crest and even
seemed to be descending. After traversing across a large talus
slope, we abandoned the trail and climbed up steep but easy terrain to
regain the ridge crest. We stuck to the open ridge crest for the
remainder of the ascent and had no further route-finding issues.
Despite lots of recent forest fires in British Columbia, Zosia and I were
blessed to have clear skies and far-reaching views on this day from the
summit of Mount Kuleski. A strong breeze also helped to attenuate
the heat from the sun, and we spent a pleasant hour on top before
commencing our descent. Avoiding our sucker trail, we followed the
ridge crest all way back to the dip and had no problems whatsoever.
From there, we picked up our original approach trail and followed it all
the way back to our starting point. Some short but steep uphill
sections felt more annoying than strenuous on the way out, but otherwise,
we enjoyed an uneventful egress.
The remainder of the route to the summit poses no
Sonny and Zosia stand on the summit of Mount Kuleski
This is the view to the south.
A couple of wildfires can be seen to the west. The striking
peak at right is unnamed.
In this view to the northwest, the two striking peaks to the right are
The lower half of Mount Kuleski's northwest outlier looks rather verdant.
stands out to the northeast.
To the east are lots of familiar peaks.
Forested Sparwood Ridge dominates the foreground in this view to the
Zosia leaves the summit and begins her descent.
Zosia walks the part of the ridge crest she missed during the ascent.
Zosia pauses at one of the last open viewpoints along the ridge on the
way back. The trailhead is in the clear-cut at centre. At
right is the McCool Creek drainage.
Distance: 14.3 kilometres*
Round-Trip Time: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 986 metres
*Route shown on map is approximate.