Mount Laidlaw

November 2, 2021


Penticton, BC

Mt. Laidlaw locates right next to Penticton-Keremeos Highway and is one of the few P600m objectives in the area. Mt. Laidlaw is slightly easier than Blue Mountain and “Peak 1431” as this peak is not located within any First Nation Reserve hence the access is easy and free. The most logical way to ascend this peak is from Sheep Creek Road to the SW and the terrain is a combination of open grasslands, old logging roads, (mostly) open forest and some bluffs. There are a few trip brief trip reports on and Matt and I would roughly follow their direction, but also do our own variations. Earlier in the day we had ascended the other two P600m objectives and by this point we had done over 1600 m elevation and we were already tired.

Mt. Laidlaw from Sheep Creek Road. GPX DL

We drove up Sheep Creek Road for a short ways until the road became gravel. Matt was not keen to drive his brand new mini van on any gravel road so we parked lower than I was hoping for. From our starting spot we had about 650 m elevation to content with but at least the distance was short. We easily plodded up some open, desert-like slopes and then merged onto an old FSR heading upwards into Toy Creek valley. The road soon merged into the creek bed to the point that even ATVs would not be able to make any further progress.

Looking back at where we parked, basically right when the road becomes gravel
Matt and Twig plodding up the lower desert slopes
The hills in this area are riddled with bands of sheer bluffs
We soon merged onto a narrow road leading into Toy Creek

At about 1230 m elevation we faced a major decision-making point. On my Backroad Mapbook may layer I could see spur roads shooting to within 150 vertical meters from the summit but the roads would be roundabout. Matt proposed to ascend straight-up following the south ridge. I reluctantly agreed. The route was rough with lots of steep scree slopes, some up-and-downs and a few bluffs. We encountered 4th class scrambling on loose rocks to overcome one particular bluff although we did not bother to search around for easier options. The summit was disappointingly forested with limited views but we did get some glimpses of views en route to the very top.

At this point we already left road to do our own variation
Matt plodding up the steep and loose scree slopes
Twig posing on a cool-looking tree…
Me charging up the scree slopes
Me tackling the crux bluff while Twig’s watching
Twig and Matt scrambling up the 4th class crux
Looking back down at the lower slopes of Mt. Parker and Twin Lakes
Me scrambling another bluff much closer to the summit
Our group shot on the summit of Mt. Laidlaw

On the descent we decided to explore some other routes to avoid those bluffs and the up-and-downs. Matt had downloaded Rob Woodall’s GPS track and the route was more west than the one we took, so we headed down that way. We found some trails and old roads but they seemed to descend/traverse further north than we wanted. We soon left the road but the southward cross-country traverse was a bit unpleasant with some bushwhacking. Thankfully we soon rejoined the road system that we took on the ascent. Lower down we decided to follow the road entirely out, which added about 1 km distance but the terrain was much easier. By this point we had gained and lost over 2200 m elevation on this day and our legs were pretty much done.

Matt leading down again, our own route down the SW slopes
Back to the lower roads
Twig plodding back across the main gravel section of Sheep Creek Road

Not doing much lingering we drove into the city of Penticton to have a well-deserved dinner and then continued northwards to Vernon. Matt had some business delivery in Vernon and that’s why we detoured that far north. From Vernon we decided to take the route towards Kamloops for a change of scenery and then from Kamloops we drove the Coquihalla Highway back home, encountering some treacherous winter conditions and then pouring rain. Matt did the entire drive on this day which was very impressive. I eventually got back home past midnight, almost 23 hours since waking up in the morning.