August 9, 2013
Yoho National Park, BC
Mount Niles is one of the scenic, but straightforward scrambles in Kane’s list. Rod and I did it as a side trip from our major objective, Mount Daly’s ascent. On our way up Mount Daly, we discovered a “new route” that can shave off extra elevation loss if we’d want to combine Daly and Niles in one day. Instead of contouring around the mountain to its southwest side, we’d attack it directly from its southeast base. This is a critical point on the way to Daly and if we could ascend Niles from this point then we’d minimize the elevation loss and regain.
That was the plan if we’d have enough energy and weather could hold. We were both very tired after coming back from Daly but considering the long approach to get here we decided to push it on. This route isn’t obvious from the Niles Meadows below so few people had gone up it, however, it’s relatively straightforward and mostly an easy scramble. We planned to return the same way so we ditched our backpacks so speed things up. From it’s southeastern corner we ascended a gully to gain its SE ridge. The ridge couldn’t be followed so we dropped a bit down the other side and then side-hilled towards its broad SW ridge resisting losing too much elevation. And once we were on the SW ridge, we’d joined the Kane’s route and followed a beaten path steeply to its summit. The elevation gain was more than expected, but the views were also better than expected. This is a better viewpoint of Waputik Icefield than the higher Mount Daly.
I waited for maybe 15-20 minutes on the summit before the cold wind forced me descending. I passed Rod on his way up shortly after starting the descent. We regrouped together somewhere on the SW ridge before retracing back to our backpacks. The return was bloody long given our tiredness.. What I could remember was the trail keeping going on forever, and once around Sherbrook Lake, we still had a ton of elevation to lose. That was hard on my knees. It was tired, but not exhausting. Our round trip time was 15.5 hours.
Overall, I’d recommend doing Daly and Niles as a 2-day trip. There’s a lovely bivy spot at just above treeline and I wished I’d spent a night up there. For Mount Niles itself, it should be on every scrambler’s “list”, given how easy and yet how scenic it is.