Mount Kettley

May 16, 2021


Mission / Chehalis Area, BC

Mt. Kettley is a rarely-heard and more rarely-ascended summit in the “Chehalis area” north of Mission. This peak is somewhat overshadowed by the (slightly) taller “Statlu Peak” a few kilometers to the south-east. “Statlu Peak” caught most, if not all peak-baggers’ interest because it boasts over 700 m prominence and is the most prominent peak south of Mt. Clarke in the area, and Mt. Kettley is largely ignored even though it’s the officially-named one. For Alex and I the primary objective was also “Statlu Peak” but we finished the ascent in a mere few hours. Having the entire day ahead we must make use of the time to explore Mt. Kettley. The peak looked steep but we knew there must be a way.

Ascent routes for Mt. Kettley and Statlu Peak. GPX DL

We did not come here with beta about Mt. Kettley nor could we find any detailed (useful) trip reports had we searched at home. The most obvious attack from Kettley/Statlu col was to follow the connecting ridge over a substantial bump. We ditched snowshoes at the col because snowshoes were only for weight training on this day… Ascending the substantial bump was decently steep near the top and required some brief route-finding complicated by numerous “tree moats”. We found a line far towards climber’s right and from there we easily ascended to the top of this bump.

Alex ascending the steep forest towards the bump
The main summit of Mt. Kettley from the subsidiary bump

The main summit of Mt. Kettley appeared insanely steep but we could see one or two lines that stayed entirely on snow. Descending to the base of Mt. Kettley required at least 50 m of elevation loss and once starting the climb I made the call to strap crampons on. The forested slope of South Face appeared to be 40-45 degrees and I was correct. About halfway up weaving around trees and bluffs I had to take ice axe out for a short section of “snow climbing”. Higher up we also got stopped by some “tree moats” but Alex found a spot to step across a sketchy-looking snow bridge followed by a short section of vertical thrashing to get onto the upper slopes. The terrain soon eased upon reaching the uppermost section. We wondered around the dome-shaped summit to fully soak in the views.

At the base of Mt. Kettley’s south face looking at some untouched bluffs
Alex starting the south face climb
The going was 45 degrees for a long while
Traversing around to find a way to cross a sketchy moat created by trees and bluffs
Alex leading us through a vertical bush step above the moat
Me ascending above that bushy step with Statlu Peak and the bump behind
Ascending the upper slopes was much easier now
Looking back at Statlu Peak
Looking back down into Blacklock Creek and Statlu Creek valleys
We wondered around the broad summit to fully soak in the views
Summit Panorama from Mt. Kettley. Click to view large size.
A cool-looking cornice with the forest fire smokes behind
Statlu Peak from the summit of Mt. Kettley
The south face of Mt. Jasper in the foreground
“Blinch Peak” in the foreground with Robertson Peak visible to the right behind
Mt. Robie Reid with Mt. Martyn behind on the left skyline
Mt. Judge Howay with Mt. Kranrod in front to the left
Mt. Breier is that pointy peak right of center in foreground
Mt. Cricker behind the lower Stave Lake
The Cheam Range peaks poke behind the smoke layer
Another look at Statlu Peak with Slesse Mountain poking behind on left skyline
Me on the summit of Mt. Kettley

On the descent we carefully retraced our own steps down the forested South Face and a lot of it required proper down-climbing facing into the slope with ice axe and crampons. At the bottom of the face we took the gears off and went for a rather simple re-ascent to the top of that subsidiary bump. Descending the SE slopes of that bump to Kettley/Statlu col was easy and fun and so was the descent of the upper snow-covered forest down below Kettley/Statlu col. Once the snow ran out we faced the sustained “BW3+” thrashing to descend to the road. It appeared from the tracks that Simon had taken a different way veering skier’s left but Alex and I decided to stick with the known. The bushwhacking would never be that terrible on a descent. The rest of the hike-out on the deactivated logging roads still required some thrashing in alders and dodging brambles. My arms and legs got more scratches.

Alex stepping across that moat step
Alex down-climbing the typical steep snow on the south face of Mt. Kettley
Alex re-ascending the bump with the south face of Mt. Kettley behind
Descending the bump was still very steep for a while
The descent from Kettley/Statlu col was characterized in this picture
Sometimes jumping was the best way to avoid falling into holes…
Me facing the bushwhack…
The typical bushwhacking on the lower slopes of this forest.
Almost done the thrashing in the forest…
Thankfully we still had some snow on the road
Once the snow ran out we had to face more thrashing on the road
Alex bushwhacking on the road…
Alex fording the creek on the return hike
Me fording that same creek. It was flowing fast in the spring melt
After the creek we pretty much done with bushwhacking so just a boring walk-out
My Taco was able to get 1 km up the road shaving off some boring walking…

Our round trip time was just under 8 hours for the two peaks so it was a decent day-trip, not too long and not too exhausting neither. Crawling down the zone of boulders if the Tacoma was not as difficult as on the way up and soon we were down to the main Lost Creek FSR. There were a shit ton of speedy off-roaders and ATVs on the road making it a dusty and somewhat dangerous drive-out. The rest of the drive back home was uneventful that I got home at 4 pm in time for a nap and dinner.