Jim Kelly Peak

September 4, 2019


Coquihalla Pass / Tulameen FSR, BC

“Jim Kelly Peak” is the unofficial name of a sizeable summit about 1 km to the east of Coquihalla Mtn. south of Coquihalla Pass. Despite the unofficial status this name has been widely accepted in the hiking community and because of the easiness in access, this peak has become a popular scramble objective in SW BC. There are three peaks in the immediate vicinity of Illal Meadows and Jim Kelly Peak was the last one that Connor and I ascended, after bagging Coquihalla Mountain and Illal Mountain earlier in the day.

Coquihalla Traverse, Jim Kelly and Illal Mtn. scramble route. GPX DL

The standard route is the NW Ridge from the broad pass between Illal Mtn. and Jim Kelly Peak and is also the most direct route for those interested in ascending all three summits in one go. We followed the game trail to the base of the scramble and then just picked whatever line that appeared to make sense. For the most parts we could stay on a game path to avoid loose rocks, but there were multiple game paths. Generally speaking, all lines would “go” at no harder than “class 2+”. It took us under half an hour to crush the 200 m elevation to the summit. There used to have a wooden cross structure but it had been torn down.

The NW Ridge of Jim Kelly Peak where we are going to ascend

Connor leading the way

Looking back down at the immense Illal Meadows. That tarn is where Vlad was waiting

The upper slopes of Jim Kelly Peak. Nothing really worth noting

Connor plodding up.

The view into the interior plateau

This is a head-on view of Coquihalla Mtn.’s east ridge

Looking down the steep SE side of Jim Kelly Peak

Partial Summit Panorama from Jim Kelly Peak. Click to view large size.

Partial Summit Panorama from Jim Kelly Peak. Click to view large size.

Needle Peak and Markhor Peak

Yak Peak with Vicuna Peak and Guanaco Peak behind

A zoomed-in view of that alpine tarn south of Illal Mountain

Me on the summit of Jim Kelly Peak

Another photo of me on the summit of Jim Kelly Peak

While soaking in the views Connor noticed the tiny dots of Adam and Frances almost arriving back at the broad Coquihalla/Jim Kelly col so we didn’t linger too long on the summit. The descent was trivial as we just needed to retrace our exact route. There was an option to take a short-cut straight down to an alpine tarn where Vlad had been patiently waiting, but we opted to go back the same way we came. The two of us somehow crossed path with Adam and Frances but didn’t see each other. By the time Connor and I got back down to that alpine tarn Adam and Frances were already ascending the slopes above us. We then took a long break at the beautiful tarn while Adam and Frances went up and down Jim Kelly Peak, and then we all grouped together for the hike-out. The hiking was beautiful but quite boring, especially after entering the woods.

Adam traversing the shore of this beautiful tarn under Jim Kelly Peak

“Spiral Peak” and “Bedpost Peak” from the hike-out

Our round trip time was about 9 hours and that had taken in account of multiple long waits so these three peaks are very doable as a day-trip from Vancouver. The drive out of the spur road in Illal Creek was slow but once back to Tulameen FSR it was a cruise sailing back to the highway. Active logging was taking in place on a weekday but thankfully we didn’t come across a logging truck. The rest of the drive back home was long and tiring but Vlad, Connor and Adam/Frances all had longer drives back to their respective homes in Richmond, Bellingham and Seattle.