Congregational Peak

July 27, 2015

2490m

McBride, BC

The name of “Congregational Peak” is obtained from bivouac.com – not the most reliable source but better than a GR in my book… It’s a relatively prominent peak buried behind McBride Peak and Mt. Teare near McBride, BC, about 85 km north-west of Valemount. This is an obscured corner of the Canadian Rockies and needless to say, when Mike and I decided to give Congregational Peak a try we had no route information at all. It just simply looked scramble-able via the connecting ridge from McBride Peak so off we went, with the entire afternoon ahead of schedule.

The traverse route from McBride Peak to Congregational Peak

The traverse route from McBride Peak to Congregational Peak. GPX DL

The route-finding was simple as we just had to stay on or near the ridge crest for as much as we could. After going up and over a couple minor bumps the terrain started to get trickier with increasing exposure and difficulty. We had to detour slightly to the left or right occasionally and on top of that there were at least 2 exposed sections to overcome with some awkward scrambling. There’s also a massive elevation loss down to a saddle just before the final ascent of this peak. That part was easy and fast on the way in, but we knew it’d be tedious in a few hours.

Looking ahead along the connecting ridge towards our objective

Looking ahead along the connecting ridge towards our objective

This is the typical view in this area

This is the typical view in this area

Mike hiking down from one of the many bumps

Mike hiking down from one of the many bumps

And then, negotiating a tricky section

And then, negotiating a tricky section

Further along the connecting ridge, our objective starts to look bigger

Further along the connecting ridge, our objective starts to look bigger

Oh here's a massive elevation drop down to the saddle

Oh here’s a massive elevation drop down to the saddle

Great views though...

Great views though…

We utilized snow to give our knees some relief

We utilized snow to give our knees some relief

Still a bit of ways to descend

Still a bit of ways to descend

Some weathers around us...

Some weathers around us…

The ascent of Congregational Peak started easily but got trickier near the end. Based on our earlier observation we knew there’s probably an easier route if we didn’t mind some elevation loss/regain and side-hilling on steep grass by contouring way to the climber’s right, but given the unstable weather we just wanted to get up (and down) this peak as fast as possible. Attacking directly up the ridge/face didn’t look terribly hard and we figured it’d probably go as a Class 4 scramble on broken quartzite rock. In fact it’s indeed mostly just a difficult scramble but with a few trickier and exposed moves along the final summit ridge traverse.

From the saddle, looking up. We went up and over the bump to the right

From the saddle, looking up. We went up and over the bump to the right

Our objective ahead.

Our objective ahead.

Mike starting the summit block scramble

Mike starting the summit block scramble

One of the few trickier moves

One of the few trickier moves

Almost on the summit ridge now

Almost on the summit ridge now

The summit is not far away!

The summit is not far away!

A few slabby sections along the summit ridge

A few slabby sections along the summit ridge

Partial summit panorama. Click to view large size.

Partial summit panorama. Click to view large size.

Partial summit panorama. Click to view large size.

Partial summit panorama. Click to view large size.

Puritan Peak further into the mountains.

Puritan Peak further into the mountains.

The peak in the foreground is The Blackwater Tusk.

The peak in the foreground is The Blackwater Tusk.

Looking back towards McBride Peak - now looks like a bump

Looking back towards McBride Peak – now looks like a bump

And, Mt. Teare which is another bump

And, Mt. Teare which is another bump

McKale Peak

McKale Peak

Me on the summit of Congregational Peak

Me on the summit of Congregational Peak

Another view of this rarely-seen area

Another view of this rarely-seen area

While the weather still held we took a short break on the summit. Mike went further along the ridge to check out some possible alternative descent routes, but eventually we just decided to down-scramble the way we came up. Some cautions were required but nothing terribly tricky. Soon we were off the difficult terrain and then down to the saddle. It’s now that the weather finally started to collapse. We got hit by a few rain storms (windy and chilly) in the next hour or so traversing back along the connecting ridge towards McBride Peak, but in between the storms we got some good views with occasional patches of blue sky.

Down-climbing a short, but exposed move along the summit ridge

Down-climbing a short, but exposed move along the summit ridge

Down-climbing the summit block

Down-climbing the summit block

Looking back at our objective

Looking back at our objective

Now, time to focus on the long slog ahead, all the way up that bump..

Now, time to focus on the long slog ahead, all the way up that bump..

More weather moving in, looking back towards our objective

More weather moving in, looking back towards our objective

Descending a tricky section on the connecting ridge

Descending a tricky section on the connecting ridge

Another scrambly part

Another scrambly part

One more exposed ridge section

One more exposed ridge section

A panorama view towards north

A panorama view towards north

The Blackwater Tusk.

The Blackwater Tusk.

The typical view

The typical view

Mike traversing back along the ridge crest

Mike traversing back along the ridge crest

A panorama view of the broad meadows between McBride and Teare

A panorama view of the broad meadows between McBride and Teare

Another (wider) panorama of this area. Click to view large size.

Another (wider) panorama of this area. Click to view large size.

Almost back to McBride Peak now

Almost back to McBride Peak now

Zooming far in down south along Rocky Mountain Trench

Zooming far in down south along Rocky Mountain Trench

Too bad another storm moved in

Too bad another storm moved in

In a few seconds we were in a blizzard...

In a few seconds we were in a blizzard…

Down from McBride Peak we tried to short-cut the route by staying on the direct ridge crest but soon entered a field of quartzite boulders. With the rain/sleet those boulders were slick so we bailed back to the trail, and then followed it easily down to the shelter. We took a necessary break in the shelter and while the weather improved we got out and hiked the rest of the way back to Mike’s SUV along the ATV trail and then the forestry road.

Looking back towards McBride Peak

Looking back towards McBride Peak

Panorama of the Trench, also Fraser River Valley

Panorama of the Trench, also Fraser River Valley

Down to the shelter now

Down to the shelter now

Fraser River and some interesting river valley scenery

Fraser River and some interesting river valley scenery

The small town of McBride

The small town of McBride

There's more weather coming in from Prince George direction

There’s more weather coming in from Prince George direction

Hiking down the ATV road

Hiking down the ATV road

And then, the forestry service road...

And then, the forestry service road…

It’s only about 5 pm in the afternoon but we still had a long drive back to Edmonton (tedious and tiring!)… In the end the Rocky Mountains around McBride are as expected, less impressive compared to the main ranges, but it’s a good trip scouting out a new area. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate otherwise we probably could have seen peaks around Mt. Chown somewhere 40 km away to the east.

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