From Highway 3, turn east onto Morrissey Road about 8.8 kilometres south of the turnoff to Fernie Ski Resort or 17 kilometres east and north of the junction with Highway 93. Cross both the bridge over Elk River and the train tracks before turning right at a T-intersection. Stay on Morrissey Road and keep right at a split about 3 kilometres south of the T-intersection (there is a cut-off road 560 metres further along the left fork if you miss this split). From the split, drive 9.1 kilometres along Lodgepole Forest Service Road (FSR) to a junction with Wigwam FSR. Stay left and drive 17 kilometres to a junction with McLatchie FSR. For the most direct route, turn left onto McLatchie FSR and drive 15 kilometres to a junction with Flathead FSR (I did not drive this way and cannot comment on the viability of McLatchie FSR). Alternatively, stay on Lodgepole Road and drive 15 kilometres to a more southerly junction with Flathead FSR (a big sign here reads "Sasquatch Junction"). Turn left and drive north for 19 kilometres to reach the aforementioned junction with McLatchie FSR (there are a couple of free rustic campgrounds along this stretch of road). From the junction with McLatchie FSR, drive north on Flathead FSR for about 4.7 kilometres and park before a damaged bridge (49.412930, -114.640780) which crosses a creek emanating from the basin north of Centre Mountain. The condition of Flathead FSR deteriorates considerably past the junction with McLatchie FSR, and a high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended.
From where we parked, Andrea, Shaun,
Zosia and I crossed the damaged bridge and walked along the road for
about two hundred metres looking for any signs of human passage.
Finding none, we returned to the bridge and followed the creek upstream
for about half a kilometre before finally biting the bullet and
bushwhacking uphill. The vegetation is moderately thick on the
lower slopes but not terribly bad. On our way up, we passed through
a couple of large glades strewn with rubble presumably from ancient
landslides. When we reached tree line a little over ninety minutes
after starting out, we were faced with a huge slope of treadmill scree.
Initially, we tried traversing to climber's left in hopes of finding more
stable terrain to climb up, but ultimately, we were forced to grovel up
the loose rocks until we reached a prominent rock outcrop where the
footing was more reliable. From there, the west ridge becomes more
well-defined and easier to climb, and we had no significant problems
scrambling up to a false summit.
Beyond the false summit, there are a couple of drop-offs which add significant challenge to the route. The first one is more difficult and entails an exposed down-climb of about twenty metres; this is the crux. Andrea, Shaun, Zosia and I slithered down a series of ledges to skier's right, and although the rocks here are loose, the exposure is not as bad as on the ridge crest. Brad, Raff, Dave and Andrew caught up to us here, and while most of them opted to follow the same line down, Dave stuck to the ridge crest and successfully down-climbed it. Further along the ridge is a second drop-off which is shorter but also tricky to descend. Fortunately, we all made it through without incident and finished the ascent with an easy walk up to the summit. It is interesting to note that in his trip report, Collier describes these drop-offs as "minor scrambly spots...but nothing serious". We were blessed with great weather on this day and hung out on the summit for well over an hour.
Based on Collier's report of "serious
bushwhacking for 2.5 km" when he chose an alternate descent route
directly south of the summit, all eight of us agreed that it would be
better to simply retrace our steps back down the mountain.
Returning along the west ridge, we had a much easier time climbing up the
challenging drop-offs, and we had few difficulties going over the false
summit and descending to the prominent rock outcrop. At this point,
we followed the more direct route that Brad, Raff, Dave and Andrew had
taken on their ascent (they had stashed their bikes near my car and
started bushwhacking directly uphill from there). From the rock
outcrop, we veered a bit to skier's left to descend a long rubble slope,
and with such a big group, we had to be extra careful to avoid raining
loose rocks down on each other. Some of the loose rubble were ideal
for surfing, and we were able to lose a lot of elevation quickly.
Inevitably, we had to re-enter forest and suffer some more bushwhacking,
but both Shaun and Dave did a great job of leading us through this
section with minimal grief. We eventually popped out of the forest
almost right beside my car. After Brad, Raff, Dave and Andrew
retrieved their bikes, they took leave of the rest of us and rode north
to return to their respective vehicles. Andrea, Shaun, Zosia and I
piled into my car for the bumpy drive south back to our campsite where we
would have dinner before retiring for the night.
It is a long and bumpy drive from the south along Flathead Forest Service Road to
reach the starting point for the ascent.
Photo courtesy of Shaun Luong This is a more comprehensive view of the crux with
Brad, Andrew, Raff and Dave descending. Gathered on the summit of Centre Mountain (2595 metres)
are (top L to R) Dave, Andrew, Brad, Raff, (bottom L to R) Shaun, Zosia,
Andrea and Sonny. The big group heads back along the west ridge. After climbing back over the false summit, the big group carries on down
the ridge. Photo
courtesy of Dave McMurray
Photo courtesy of Dave McMurray
Be sure to check out Dave's trip report.
Andrea, Zosia and Shaun follow a
flowing creek upstream at the beginning of the trip.
Abandoning the creek, Zosia and Andrea
follow Shaun into some unpleasant bush.
A big rubble field breaks up some of
the monotony of climbing up the forested slope.
At tree line, Andrea, Zosia and Shaun
face a huge treadmill scree slope.
After traversing a little to climber's
left looking for more solid terrain, Shaun, Zosia and Andrea simply
bite the bullet and head straight up the loose scree slope.
Better footing can be found near this
Gaining the crest of the west ridge,
the group makes better progress up the mountain.
This part of the west ridge is easy to
The summit is visible for the first
time in the distance.
Sonny and Zosia down-climb the biggest
and most difficult drop-off along the west ridge. This is the
Past the crux, there is at least one
more shorter but tricky down-climb along the west ridge before the
To the northwest is Limestone Ridge,
the highest point of which is at left and is known unofficially as
Many of the peaks to the north along
the Continental Divide are officially unnamed.
Shaun, Andrea and Raff wait on the
false summit as Zosia carefully negotiates an exposed section along
The big group climbs over a knob lower
down the ridge.
Descending this rubble slope is tricky
with such a big group. In the background is Mount Corrigan.
Sonny, Andrew and Brad find good scree
to surf lower down.
There is a little bit of bushwhacking
left near the end.
Hoping to absorb some extra energy
after a strenuous scramble, Brad, Shaun, Sonny, Zosia, Raff and
Andrea all gather around Andrew and his powerful e-bike.
Distance: 7.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 8 hours 21 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 981 metres
It is a long and bumpy drive from the south along Flathead Forest Service Road to reach the starting point for the ascent.
Photo courtesy of Shaun Luong
This is a more comprehensive view of the crux with Brad, Andrew, Raff and Dave descending.
Gathered on the summit of Centre Mountain (2595 metres) are (top L to R) Dave, Andrew, Brad, Raff, (bottom L to R) Shaun, Zosia, Andrea and Sonny.
The big group heads back along the west ridge.
After climbing back over the false summit, the big group carries on down the ridge.
Photo courtesy of Dave McMurray
Photo courtesy of Dave McMurray