Promontory Hills

June 28, 2021


Merritt, BC

Promontory Hills is one of the taller summits that directly overlook Merritt and Lower Nicola Valley and probably because of that, a service road goes all the way to the very top and this road can be easily driven to the summit in a Subaru or more aggressive off-roading vehicles. The prominence of this peak is only over 400 m but it’s decently isolated meaning the “prominent saddle” is far away to the north towards Spaist Mountain.

I had actually been looking at this peak as a winter ascent on snowshoes but if the road’s icy from the bottom then it could be a bit too much of a day. The other end of the spectrum was then to drive to the summit in summer and count it as a mechanized ascent but I’ve been recently inspired by Matt Juhasz that I’m trying to avoid doing peaks by “clean” mechanized ascent. This means I would still prefer to drive most of the way up if that’s an option, but to park at a couple kilometers from the summit and walk the last portion.

As we are all aware there’s a massive record-breaking heat dome parked in BC and temperatures had risen into the mid-40s. My apartment unfortunately does not have air conditioning and my room temperature was approaching 30 degrees and it was humid. I was developing headaches just by sitting in front of my computer writhing trip reports and after one miserable night of hardly any sleep I spontaneously decided to drive out, get a hotel ASAP and bag some dumpster peaks as a side product. I debated about Vancouver Island for cooler temperatures vs. Interior BC for cheaper prices and in the end the money aspect won. I drove out of White Rock at 9 pm and made to Comstock Road exit a few hours later. I was exhausted from the lack of sleep so pulled over and slept in my truck. I did catch a few hours of soso sleep but woke up when it’s bright at 5 am. I drove down into and across Merritt to the FSR heading up Promontory Hills. The road was in decent conditions and gradually became steeper and rougher towards the top. I think a 4WD vehicle is required to drive the last few kilometers due to steep grades and loose rocks but high clearance is probably not needed. As promised to myself I parked my truck about 2 km and 200m gain away from the summit.

Promontory Hills drive-up route from Lower Nicola. GPX DL

As soon as I started walking I almost regretted about this decision, not because of the heat but rather because of the mosquitoes. They were literally horrendous. The heat was not a problem at this time of a day because I was mostly walking in the shades. About halfway up I also accidentally bumped into cows and they were definitely looking pissed to see me on the road. I almost turned around to fuck it and just drive to the top but then the cows moved away so I reluctantly continued walking. The rest of the ascent was uneventful and I actually saw a truck and a tent near the very top. I guess camping up there was a good way to get away from the heat but then there was literally a thousand mosquitoes flying around. I walked around the summit, took some photos but didn’t linger due to the bugs.

My truck parked on the FSR a bit over 2 km from the summit
The typical road condition beyond where I parked. Easily driveable…
The first rays of sun beams. It was HOT…
I walked passed this stagnant tarn of water that breeds zillions of bugs
Someone was camping just south of the summit on a lookout
I would not want to sit here with the mosquitoes around…
Mt. McInnes to the south, more prominent but actually lower than my spot
Looking back into Merritt and Lower Nicola
Me on the southern lookout point of Promontory Hills
Me on the summit of Promontory Hills soaking in the views
This is that camping spot viewed from the summit of Promontory Hills
Stoyoma Mtn. and Mt. Hewitt Bostock area to the SW
I could also see the Spences Bridge area to the NW
I discovered a secret cabin hidden from view, 20 m west of the summit

The descent was rather uneventful and I did not see those cows again. At the truck I wasted no time to start the engine and I even did my change of cloths inside the vehicle to minimize exposure to the mosquitoes. Half an hour later I was back down in Nicola Valley and my next stop would be Merritt’s A&W for breakfast. After that I directed my bearing towards Chuwhels Mountain not far from Kamloops.

Time to walk down the road while it’s still mostly in shade
Back to my truck, time to go grab some breakfast in the town…