Ghost Rider Peak And Mount Hosmer

Mount Hosmer is a prominent mountain north of Fernie, British Columbia, but its sub-peak, Ghost Rider Peak, is probably more celebrated in large part due to the occasional appearance of a horse and rider on its southern cliffs when the late day sun hits at just the right angle.  Despite the presence of a well-known approach trail starting from Hartley Lake Road, there is surprisingly very little information about climbing Ghost Rider Peak and virtually nothing about Mount Hosmer.  Trevor Helwig climbed Ghost Rider Peak with James Yearous in 2010, and he posted a trip report on  At the end of his report, he states that "it looks quite possible to follow the ridge from Ghostrider peak to the summit proper of Mt. Hosmer in an hour or two".  Ever since I first read his report, I have been eager to give the traverse a try.

An opportunity finally came up when Zosia Zgolak organized an ACC trip to the Fernie area for 22-24 July 2016.  She originally planned to do a 3-day backpack trip along Heiko's Trail which included bagging some peaks along the way such as Three Sisters and 5-Star Summit.  I initially declined since I had already climbed most of the peaks she was proposing, but after further discussions, we came up with a revised plan to turn the weekend into a car camping trip.

Early on the morning of 22 July 2016, Zosia headed out to Fernie with Jason Minski and Simon Rolland to hike Heiko's Trail as a one-way day trip.  Before going to the northern trailhead of Heiko's Trail, they pitched their tents at nearby Hartley Lake forestry campground in order to secure a place to sleep for the night.  Because the access road to Heiko's Trail was quite rough, they commenced their hike a few kilometres short of the trailhead.  During the day, a thunderstorm prevented them from reaching the summit of Three Sisters, but they still managed to claim 5-Star Summit and "6-Star Summit" (Fernie West Outlier as named by Bob Spirko) before ending their hike at Island Lake Lodge.

Meanwhile, Marta Wojnarowska and I left Calgary at around suppertime, and we arrived at Island Lake Lodge not too long after Zosia and the others finished their hike.  Everyone piled into my car, and we stopped briefly in Fernie to get the hungry hikers some food (ironically, they had a hard time getting just a glass of water let alone anything to eat at luxurious Island Lake Lodge).  We then drove to Hartley Lake campground before retrieving Jason's vehicle just a little further up the road.  In spite of all the planning that went into organizing everything, I still ended up leaving my Thermarest at home!  Luckily, I keep a small square section of an old blue foam sleeping pad in my car, and between that and using my spare clothes as a makeshift mattress, I managed to sleep fairly comfortably in my sleeping bag that night.

On the morning of 23 July 2016, everyone got up reasonably early to eat breakfast, and we then piled into my car to drive about a kilometre down the road to the signed Mount Hosmer trailhead.  To get started, we hiked the steep but well-maintained trail up to a saddle between Ghost Rider Peak and an unnamed outlier to the northwest.  We then continued up a short moderate section to reach a viewpoint overlooking the town of Fernie.  From here, the trail resumes a steep grade up the north ridge of Ghost Rider Peak before ending at a knob short of the main summit block.  When we arrived at the knob, we ran into a trio of local hikers who had passed us on the trail earlier in the morning.  While everyone seemed content for the moment to stop at the knob, I was already eyeing the crux section on the main summit block.  Before reaching the base of the crux, there are two somewhat exposed pinnacles that need to be climbed over or bypassed.  Simon and Zosia were not comfortable continuing past these pinnacles, and they decided to turn around and look for an alternate route to Mount Hosmer.

The crux is a 10-metre high crack with disturbingly loose holds in a few places.  I did not find climbing the crux to be technically challenging, but the exposure can be a bit unnerving.  While Helwig rated the crux as "definitely class IV, if not V", I would rate it as a hard Class 3, but that is just my amateur opinion.  Marta and Jason followed me up the crux without too much trouble, and soon after, we were all standing on the summit of Ghost Rider Peak.  In order to continue to Mount Hosmer, we had to drop down to a gap separating Ghost Rider Peak's main summit block from its slightly lower southeastern outlier.  Marta initially tried to follow the connecting ridge down, but she soon reached a drop-off that was too steep to down-climb.  We were seemingly stuck until I spotted a south-facing gully that appeared to be reasonable to descend.  As it turned out, the most troublesome section was near the bottom.  The gully spills over the entrance of a shallow cave, and the holds here are all down-sloping and small or non-existent.  This was definitely Class 4 terrain, and I actually ended up jumping down the last metre onto a pile of scree at the entrance to the cave.  Jason followed suit and also jumped down this same section, but Marta was reluctant to jump due to her history of knee problems.  I tried to give her some assistance, but she ended up falling on me when I lost my footing on the scree at the cave entrance.  Marta scraped a finger in the process, but otherwise, she was none the worse for wear.  With all of us safely down the gully, we crossed the aforementioned gap and hiked to the top of the southeastern outlier.  From there, we descended without too much trouble to the low point of the connecting ridge to Mount Hosmer.
Watch for a nasty rock near the bottom of the access road! Hartley Lake campground is located close to the Mount Hosmer trailhead.
Looks haunted! In this view from the trail, Ghost Rider Peak is partially shrouded by clouds.
The crag is easy enough to ascend, but we didn't bother. The group approaches a striking crag near the ridge crest.
The junction to bypass Ghostrider Peak is just past this point. The group hikes to a viewpoint overlooking the town of Fernie in the distance.
Looks nicer from a distance... Hartley Lake is visible from the viewpoint.
Even on a cold day, you should be hot and sweaty by now! The trail is steep again near the end.
Maybe it's a good thing we can't see the peak... The group ascends the last bit before the end of trail.  Ghost Rider Peak is momentarily hidden by mist.
Are you scared yet? The mist lifts a bit to reveal the summit block of Ghost Rider Peak.
If the pinnacles aren't to your liking, it would be best to turn around here. A couple of pinnacles have to be climbed over to reach the base of the summit block.
Make no mistake; the ridge is exposed here! Marta and Jason are perched on top of the two pinnacles beyond the knob at trail's end.
This is what I came here for today! Sonny leads the way up the crux.

Photo courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska

Yikes! What was I thinking? Marta watches as Sonny works his way up the crack.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Gotta test all holds; some of the rocks are frighteningly loose. Jason watches as Marta climbs up the crux.
It's a good thing we're not coming back this way...right? It is Jason's turn to climb up.
Thank you, Zosia, for getting some pics of us on the crux! Marta and Sonny monitor Jason as he climbs the crux.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Bloody mist! This picture could have been taken anywhere! Sonny, Marta and Jason stand on the summit of Ghost Rider Peak (2379 metres).
Looks easy enough...if we can get over to that ridge! The mist clears to reveal the connecting ridge to Mount Hosmer.
Reminds me of similar descent gullies on Mount Smuts and Mount Arethusa. Jason begins descending a steep gully on the south side of Ghost Rider Peak's summit block.
Definitely Class 4 here! While Marta waits above, Jason prepares to jump down the most awkward spot in the gully.  Below Jason is a shallow cave.
As Marta would say, "Holy F**k!!!" It is Marta's turn to slither down the steep gully.
And Marta doesn't like jumping...ever! Marta reaches the awkward Class 4 section of the gully above the shallow cave.
Yeesh, how did we ever get down that thing?? Here is a look back at Ghost Rider Peak's summit block from its southeastern outlier.
The outlier is actually the peak that most people see from the highway. Jason and Marta celebrate on top of Ghost Rider Peak's southeastern outlier (2370 metres).
Tough part is over; we can relax a little now! Marta and Jason descend the east ridge of the outlier.
No need to jump here! Marta squeezes down a crack.
I wonder if anyone has climbed the south face... While waiting for Marta to catch up, Jason checks out the impressive south-facing cliffs of Ghost Rider Peak.
It took us about 2 hours to get from the knob to this spot. Here is a comprehensive view of the entire traverse of Ghost Rider Peak from the knob at trail's end (upper right) to the connecting ridge to Mount Hosmer (foreground).
While Marta, Jason and I were muddling about on Ghost Rider Peak, Simon and Zosia retreated to near the viewpoint we had passed on the way up.  They spotted some flagging here and found a good trail leading to scree slopes on the north side of Ghost Rider Peak.  Hiking off-trail, they managed to find their way up the connecting ridge leading to Mount Hosmer, and in effect, they bypassed all the difficulties on Ghost Rider Peak.  Marta, Jason and I reunited with Simon and Zosia on the connecting ridge, and together, we easily proceeded to the summit of Mount Hosmer without any problems.

For our return trip, we followed the route that Simon and Zosia used to bypass Ghost Rider Peak.  We returned to the connecting ridge and descended into the cirque below.  From there, we traversed scree slopes until we gained the flagged trail which led us back to the main trail.  At this junction, I built a cairn since we had all missed the flagging on the way up.  The rest of our hike back to the trailhead was quick and uneventful.

We subsequently returned to the campground for dinner followed by songs around a wonderful campfire to cap off a successful and enjoyable day in the mountains.
If necessary, I would have returned via the traverse, but I'm glad we didn't have to! Sunshine illuminates Ghost Rider Peak.  The bypass trail to Mount Hosmer can be seen in the scree slope at bottom right.
After all the excitement on Ghostrider Peak, this seemed a little anticlimactic.. After reuniting with Simon and Zosia, the group approaches the summit ridge of Mount Hosmer.

 Wake me up when we get there...

The summit ridge of Mount Hosmer is mostly an easy hike.


And now we dance! Jason, Zosia, Simon, Marta and Sonny arrive at the summit of Mount Hosmer (2504 metres). comes the rain again... This is looking back at Mount Hosmer's summit from the east end of the summit ridge.  The big peak on the right is Mount Bisaro.
It would be easy enough to traverse from Mount Hosmer to the unnamed ridge. The ridge immediately to the north is unnamed, but visible on the horizon is Mount Washburn.
Sick of looking at Ghostrider Peak yet? Simon heads toward the low point of the connecting ridge between Mount Hosmer and Ghost Rider Peak.
Can you spot the communcation tower near the summit?  To the southwest is the highest peak of Three Sisters.
If bypassing Ghostrider Peak to ascend only Mount Hosmer, this is the way up. Jason and Simon drop from the ridge into the cirque below Ghost Rider Peak.
Keep an eye out for flagging. The bypass trail can be picked up just around this corner.
If you miss the train I'm on, You will know that I am gone, You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles. After dinner, Zosia and Marta sing songs at Hartley Lake campground.
Any requests? Zosia picks up Marta's guitar and is ready for her world tour.
Arguably the best scramble in the Fernie area. Total Distance:  13.8 kilometres
Total Time:  9 hours 27 minutes
Net Elevation Gain Ghost Rider Peak:  935 metres
Net Elevation Gain Mount Hosmer:  1060 metres

GPX Data