Ottomite Mountain

November 22, 2020


Coquihalla Pass, BC

This is rather the least significant pimple in the immediate vicinity of Coquihalla Pass but the name has been officially proved by the government. The peak does boast a relatively steep south “face” overlooking the highway. The north side of the “peak”, however, has a service road that runs all the way to the summit from Zopkios Rest Area. An ascent of Ottomite Mtn. via this service road involves elevation gain of under 300 m and is best done in winter when the bigger objectives are out of reach. I actually had been thinking about this objective for a few years but never found that perfect oppourtunity to actually pull the trigger. Part of the reason was because I didn’t quite want to do this hike solo (too boring), but on the other hand it’s not easy to convince someone to drive that far for something this short.

The decision to actually pull the trigger was a very spontaneous one. I had been talking to Maria “Ecowahm” for a while on Facebook and it seemed like our schedule finally aligned on this particular Sunday. However, Maria had just done a long hike on Saturday (very tired) and needed to be back home before 6 pm on Sunday. On top of that the weather forecast was not the greatest, with the highest possibility of sunshine focusing on areas to the east. Combining all factors mentioned above I threw out two objectives and she picked the easier one. There’s no stress whatsoever that I didn’t even bother to do any preparation other than downloading my own Zupjok-Llama-Alpaca trip’s GPS track. Speaking my previous trips in this area I had two chances to grab Ottomite Mountain as a short side detour – Zupjok to Alpaca on snowshoes in 2015 and Iago/Great Bear on skis also in 2015, but at in that year I didn’t even know this forested pimple could have a name. I didn’t even notice this name until at least 2017 while browsing Gaia’s GPS map…

Ottomite Mountain snowshoe route. GPX DL

Maria and I met at 7 am at one of the exits on Highway 1 in the vicinity of Langley and the drive eastwards to Coquihalla Pass was without event. The road condition was pretty good considering the amount of snowfall we had been receiving recently. There were already half a dozen vehicles parked at the trail-head and we expected a relatively busy-ish day. The track heading for Zupjok/Ottomite col was packed by all forms of traffic, but despite the heavy traffic the flotation devices (snowshoes or skis) were definitely required. I was afraid that I might plod at a pace too fast for Maria considering her previous day’s exertion so let her go ahead. Maria’s pace turned out to be perfect. With lots of chatting the mundane plod on this service road went by quickly. The weather had been “mostly sunny” so far, better than forecasted.

The parking lot at Zopkios Rest Area, with Markhor Peak behind

An obligatory shot of Yak Peak from the parking lot

Maria on the initial slog up this service road

After a while we finally entered the sunshine

Maria on the snowshoe track

As typical as the plod went

Looking back at the track and the morning sun

Near Zupjok/Ottomite col the track split into several branches and our choice was always the leftmost branch staying on the service road. The road did a few long zig-zags up the north slopes of Ottomite Mountain before eventually reaching this forested summit. There was actually some views towards Zopkios Ridge (Yak Peak etc.) but the view looking south was blocked by the trees. We did a long stay on the summit playing with the cameras as we simply had too many extra hours to kill.

An artistic show by Maria.

Meanwhile I also tried some artistic shots, but not nearly as good…

Maria taking in some scenery

Me on the trail. Photo by Maria

This is looking into a rarely-visited cirque behind Zopkios Ridge

The south ridge of Zupjok Peak is very popular, on the other hand

Plodding towards the summit of this “mountain”

Almost there…

Another shot of Yak Peak

Me on the summit of Ottomite Mountain

Maria and I on the summit of Ottomite Mountain

Portrait mode #1 for Maria.

Portrait mode #2..

Portrait mode #3..

Portrait mode #4…

Another photo of me on the summit. Photo by Maria

Eventually it’s time time to head down. After following the tracks for a couple switchbacks we made a decision to short-cut the largest switchback mostly to experience trail-breaking in the deep powder. It was a bit heavy even with the downhill assistance. We also passed two groups of skiers skinning up although I wondered if the slopes on this “peak” were ever steep enough to be fun on skis. The rest of the journey back home was uneventful. It was a bit unusual for me to come back home at 2 pm on a Sunday’s outing but nonetheless this was an excellent day. I’m definitely looking to do more trips with Maria. This trip also proved that good old quote of “you can never go wrong when the weather’s sunny”, even when time/energy/motivation was lacking..

Time to head down…

Maria pointing at a major short-cut

Having fun in the bottomless powder

Back to the boring road plod…

Maria almost back at the parking lot.