Mount Schaffer

September 16, 2012


Yoho – Lake O’Hara, BC

Mt. Schaffer is not a prominent summit by any mean, but does tower about the lakes in Lake O’Hara region by a few hundred vertical meters. That makes it an ideal viewpoint and in fact, among the few peaks I’ve ascended in this area Mt. Schaffer has some of my favourate views. The north ridge appears formidable from Lake O’Hara and involves some “border line scrambling” while its south slope is a mere “easy scramble”. The route I took was obviously, the easy option and I did it after finishing the nearby Little Odaray in the morning.

Mt. Schaffer scramble route

Mt. Schaffer scramble route

The descent along Odaray Prospect trail was nice and scenic and then I ascended towards Lake McArthur along its Highline trail. This trail goes through a rock chimney. Every single corner of Lake O’Hara never fails to amaze me and just as expected, another big WOW moment waited for me at Lake McArthur!!


Panorama of Lake O’Hara area from Odaray Prospect Trail


Mount Huber


Panorama of Lake McArthur

The ascent slope of Mount Schaffer looked straightforward but the downside was, it’d be a long and tedious plod… Good this was, the scree wasn’t that loose despite the appearance. I quickly gained the shoulder, known as Schaffer Ledge, where I took the 2nd break of the day (first break was at the summit of Little O). I quickly consumed a muffin. Looking back, Lake McArthur looks like a volcano crater! It’s a must-visit area in the Rockies.


The “walk-up” route up Mount Schaffer


Looking down to Schaffer Lake


Looking back at Lake McArthur


Odaray Mountain is the big one in foreground, while Cathedral Mountain is the one in background.

The upper ridge appeared a bit more than”easy scrambling” though, but once starting the ascent, you’ll find it’s actually just as straightforward. There’s a beaten path and a ton of cairns so route-finding was reasonably easy. I followed the ridge crest which involved some moderate scrambling, but most, if not all of the difficulties were circumventable on climber’s left side if I didn’t mind some side-hilling. The summit was shortly attained. It’s actually the west end of Schaffer Ridge, but a huge summit register helped me confirming I made to the summit. I also scrambled to the next high point along the ridge which was only 5 minutes away.


Panorama of Lake O’Hara area from the summit


Zooming in towards the route from O’Hara to Oesa


Wiwaxy Peaks


Lake McArthur


Lake O’Hara


Ridge continues eventually to Mount Biddle


Hungabee Mountain


Lake O’Hara and Mount Huber/Victoria seen from the summit


Opabin Plateau, with Hungabee Lake and Opabin Lake


Looking down the 5.3 N. Ridge


The huge summit register


Looking down at Lake O’Hara and Opabin Plateau

It was only 3 pm and I thought I should hurry up and catch up the 4:30 pm bus. Therefore I didn’t stay long but quickly made my way down the slope. Descending from the summit of Mt. Schaffer was fast and it only took me 20 min ish to get back to Lake McArthur. The afternoon sun was much better for photographing this lake.

Descending towards the Lake, I decided to check it out

Descending towards the Lake, I decided to check it out

Mt. Biddle looms behind

Mt. Biddle looms behind

The pristine environ

The pristine environ

A lone larch

A lone larch

Panorama of Lake McArthur

Panorama of Lake McArthur

Another panorama of Lake McArthur

Another panorama of Lake McArthur

Shaffer Lake looks much better in the afternoon which was another bonus for the day. After that I ran down the switchback section, and quickly made my way down to Elizabeth Parker Hut. Mt. Huber looks impressive, as always. At the end of the day, I went to the Lake O’Hara lake shore for quick photos. Round trip time: 7.25 hours bus to bus.


Schaffer Lake, with Wiwaxy Peaks and Huber in the background

Panorama of Schaffer Lake

Panorama of Schaffer Lake

A panorama from Elizabeth Parker Hut. Mt. Huber looms behind

A panorama from Elizabeth Parker Hut. Mt. Huber looms behind

Panorama of Lake O'Hara at the end of the day

Panorama of Lake O’Hara at the end of the day

Lake O’Hara is definitely the heaven on earth, especially in larch season. I can’t recommend more for those who hasn’t visited this area before.. The reality is much better than what the photos show, and you gotta have to experience it by yourself. For peak-baggers, there’re 4 scrambles in this area: Little Odaray, Mount Schaffer, Yukness Mountain, Wiwaxy Peaks East Tower. I’ve got 3 of them, and even if I got all 4, I’ll come back for sure. I generally don’t go on a trip without ascending a peak, but this area is an exception.

  1. Ankit Pal says:

    Hi Steven,

    I like your work, its really impressive. Probably this summer i have a lot of these mountains on my list. Now that I can refer to your blogs it would help a lot and help me prepare for the worst and the best. Good job Keep up.

    Ankit Pal.

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