Sulphur Mountain (Traverse)
June 13, 2013
With a rainy forecast (with possible thunderstorms) I didn’t expect too much from this day. I’ve done the tourist’s “Sulphur Mountain” which is the mere north end, officially named Sanson’s Peak. This time I would go for the true summit which is 5 km south of the Gondola station. That also involves going over 3 bumps with one big dip and that makes it a fairly long day with lots of elevation and some scrambling. According to So Nakagawa’s trip report, the summit is the south peak of the two highest. I’ll refer the true summit as 4th summit, and the one being nearly as high as the 3rd. This is different from So’s reference.
I leisurely started the day at 9 am. My plan was, if it really started to pour then I would stay at the Sanson’s Peak tourist’s restaurant. It started with sunshine but soon turned into a quite heavy hail storm. I was kinda low on motivation to continue and I almost decided to turn around. Glad I didn’t and the storm passed by quickly. Didn’t get soaked at all after this. There’s nothing to describe about the 5.5 km hike up the trail except for it being much flatter than needed. I made to the top of gondola station after 1.5 hours of hiking. Surprisingly, it was sunny towards the other side, and the clouds were creating some quite unique scenery!
I soon left all the people and started my lonely trudge towards the other direction. Going up the first summit was probably the technical crux of this trip. I went climber’s right looking for a ledge but didn’t find one and ended up scrambling up a difficult slabby route. On the way down I went straight down the nose which also involves a few difficult moves. In winter I’m sure this would give at least some mountaineering feels.
There’s a bit of elevation loss back into the trees before the longer slog up the 2nd summit. And then, a bigger dip into the trees again before slogging up the 3rd. I got tired of the gain and loss and side-sloped on climber’s right to bypass the 3rd summit. I wouldn’t recommend doing this since the terrain was not very friendly on the side. The 4th summit was the true summit according to So, but really, one cannot tell which is the highest, 3rd or 4th. The dip between the two was very significant and very frustrating. Thankfully the weather held as I slowly moving towards the true summit. From its top it appeared that the 3rd being slightly lower. I also got a great view of the big massive Rundle from the entire trip. I don’t believe there exists a scramble route up the true summit of Rundle from the west side. It appears to be very slabby. I could also see the thin Dragon’s Back on scrambler’s Rundle.
On the way back I decided to slog up the 3rd summit to make sure I have done this mountain. From its top it appeared that the 4th being slightly lower, so really, one cannot tell. To be consistent with other sources, I’ll call the 4th being the summit, to give peak-baggers more work to do! Towards the end of this long ridge, I really started to appreciate the elevation gain, loss, and regain. What a theme of this trip! I got pretty tired once slogging back to the top of Gondola station and took a lengthy break before the boring hike down the “highway”.
Overall it was a pretty good day in the mountains with gorgeous views. My round trip time was 7.25 hours so it wasn’t actually that long, but it’s definitely not a short day neither. Not sure how much I’d recommend Sulphur Mountain traverse though as it’s mostly just a long plod, although I do can tell that the true summit isn’t often ascended.