Beaconsfield Mountain And Apex Mountain

After arriving in Penticton, British Columbia the previous night, Zosia Zgolak and I paid a visit to Apex Mountain Resort on 28 December 2016.  Having previously skied here, I was always puzzled by the fact that the actual Apex Mountain is not even within the boundaries of the resort.  The top of Apex Mountain Resort is actually the summit of Beaconsfield Mountain while the actual Apex Mountain is located about two kilometres to the south.  Surprisingly, I could not find any information about the traverse between the two mountains, but in my mind, I was sure that it could be done as a reasonable day trip on skis.

Rather than start from base area of Apex Village, we drove to the upper parking lot as indicated on the resort's trail map.  From the deserted parking lot, we had no serious issues skinning up Grandfather's Trail to the top of Beaconsfield Mountain.  Compared to many other ski resorts, Apex Mountain Resort appears to be quite relaxed when it comes to uphill skinning probably because so few people do it here.  At the top of Beaconsfield Mountain, I was dismayed to learn that the beloved Billy Goat Hut was no longer open to the public and had been turned into a ski patrollers' cabin.  I have fond memories from previous ski trips of stopping there to warm up and to buy freshly baked cookies.

From the top of Beaconsfield Mountain, we dropped down Grandmother's Trail on the Wildside (south) face of the resort and slipped under the boundary rope to arrive at a trough between the two mountains.  We came across a trio of skiers here testing their avalanche transceivers.  I am not sure how often people climb up Apex Mountain, but its northern outlier is apparently quite popular with out-of-bound skiers looking for pristine powder slopes.  Leaving the trio of skiers behind, Zosia and I found a good snowmobile track which eventually led us to the top of the northern outlier.  From there we followed the broad, windswept ridge all the way to Apex Mountain's summit which is cluttered with numerous telecommunications installations.  We found shelter from the chilly wind on the lee side of one of the buildings and ate lunch before commencing our return trip.

Zosia and I kept our skins on for the ski back to Beaconsfield Mountain since there are a few short uphill sections along the way even before the big climb up Grandmother's Trail.  Once we returned to the top of Beaconsfield Mountain, we removed our skins and enjoyed an easy ski back to the upper parking lot.

After loading up my car and making a quick stop at the base area of Apex Village, we drove west from the resort along the Hedley Nickel Plate Road.  This well-maintained road eventually connects with Highway 3, but the last 13 kilometres or so before the highway is not for the faint-hearted.  The road here is narrow and winding with a few alarming drop-offs along the edges.  Fortunately, the road was not too snowy or icy, and we managed to make it down to Highway 3 safely before driving to Princeton.
The trees are on fire! The sunrise lights up the trees on a ridge near the upper parking lot.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

The parking lot was packed full when we returned later in the afternoon. The upper parking lot is largely deserted as Zosia begins skinning uphill.
Zosia is a climbing machine! Grandfather's Trail is wide and easy to skin up.
We are no longer alone... Zosia begins to encounter downhill skiers shortly after the resort opens.
It's no bluebird day, but I'll take it! The sunshine is most appreciated after a frosty ascent.
It took us about 1 hour 15 minutes to skin up here. Zosia arrives at the top of Beaconsfield Mountain (2176 metre).
Sadly, the café that used to sell freshly baked cookies and hot drinks here is no longer in business. On the summit of Beaconsfield Mountain is Billy Goat Hut.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

This is where the adventure really begins! Zosia heads down Grandmother's Trail on the south side of the resort.  The summit of Apex Mountain is barely visible left of centre.  On the right behind the sign is the northern outlier of Apex Mountain.
We may yet get out of having to break trail on this trip! Zosia follows a snowmobile track which eventually leads to the top of the ridge in the distance.
Thank goodness we don't have to break trail! Sonny climbs steadily up the snowmobile track.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Far from the madding crowd... The top of Beaconsfield Mountain is visible in the distance as Zosia clears the last trees.
Zosia looks like she is on an Arctic expedition! Zosia gains the windswept ridge.
Brrrr! It definitely FEELS like an Arctic expedition! The wind is too chilly for Zosia to linger for long on top of Apex Mountain's northern outlier (2234 metres).
Watch the rocks! Sonny skis toward the main summit of Apex Mountain.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Darn clouds! The sun tries to break through the cloud cover above Apex Mountain.

The snow drifts make natural speed bumps for the descent!

Wind has evidently redistributed some of the snow on the ridge.


Especially if you follow the road all the way up! Route-finding through the trees is easy here.
At least they make good wind breaks! Numerous antennas and buildings adorn the summit of Apex Mountain.
The actual Apex Mountain! Zosia and Sonny stand on the summit of Apex Mountain (2244 metres).

Unfortunately, the ridge is a little too flat to take the skins off yet...

Zosia prepares to return along the north ridge of Apex Mountain.


Last uphill of the day...yay! Zosia climbs back up to the top of Beaconsfield Mountain.
Take it slow on this road especially if there is snow or ice present. The Hedley Nickel Plate Road can be seen winding its way down the steep hillside.  Highway 3 is visible in the valley bottom.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

A surprisingly easy ski tour--highly recommended! Total Distance:  13.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  4 hours 59 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  ~765 metres
Total Elevation Loss:  ~425 metres

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