Sessel Mountain

July 21, 2019


Pemberton / Upper Lillooet FSR, BC

Sessel Mountain is a sizeable massif north of Boomerang Glacier in the vicinity of North Creek and Hurley River and boasts a steep, glaciated north face, but because of the close proximity to the even-bigger Mt. Sampson this peak is often overlooked. Adding to that the standard route is nothing but a treacherous scree ascent for 800 vertical meters up the south face and that’s quite a slog even for peak-baggers like myself. The approach would take one long day no matter where you come from – North Creek Cabin, Hurley River valley or the south side and the best way to do Sessel Mountain is to combine it with several other peaks in several days, and that’s how Alex, Paul and I did it.

Sampson Group peak-bagging. GPX DL

On the first day we traversed over “Zorah Peak“, tagged “Trapeze Peak” and made the summit bid on Mt. Sampson and camped at the base of Mt. Sampson’s south face. The first business of Day 2 was traversing/descending to the broad pass between Mt. Sampson and Mt. Delilah where we would set up the basecamp for both Sessel Mountain and Mt. Delilah. The traverse would be over 2 km long and all on tedious side-hill country, and with heavy packs but we had to face it. The first section getting down and around a waterfall was the worst with lots of moraine type of choss to deal with. The second half had a ton of steep grass but because the weather had been dry I found side-hilling on grass was no problem in this particular trip. We could have camped at about 500 horizontal meters below the pass with running water but decided to carry all the way to the pass in search for a none-windy spot, but there was no such spot. We picked one spot to pitch the tents nonetheless and spent some time building a wind shelter.

Descending the glacier south of Mt. Sampson first thing in the AM

Me searching for a line to side-hill. Photo by Alex R.

Descending past the glacier and waterfall now.

I don’t think this cool tarn sees many people…

Time to start the side-hill on grass. This stretch isn’t too bad

More steep grass side-hilling. About 2 km of sidehill bash

Route-finding is still required to cross several gullies

Delilah Creek valley that drains down into Pemby Valley.

Easy side-hilling now. Mt. Delilah in the background

Almost down to the flat ground

Down to flat ground now. Paul walking on snow with “Zorah Peak” behind

Easy trekking towards Delilah/Sampson pass

Alex leading the way to find a spot to camp

Me and Paul hiking towards the pass.

The objective on this day was to bag both Sessel Mountain and Mt. Delilah so we had to resist the temptation of lingering at camp for too long. The side-hill traverse across Boomerang Glacier to the base of Sessel Mountain’s south slopes was a bit steeper than expected and we had to route-find around several small crevasses. The snow was thin and isothermal that we didn’t want to blindly trust the strength of it. The view of the north face of Mt. Delilah was rad though that kept drawing us to look back. At the base of Sessel Mtn. south slope we ditched the unnecessary snow and ice gears and turned on the slogging mode.

The south slopes of Sessel Mountain displayed in front

Alex and Paul traversing onto Boomerang Glacier with the north face of Philistine Peak behind

More about traversing Boomerang Glacier. We had to be careful about crevasses

Alex and Paul on Boomerang Glacier with Pebble Peak behind

The north face of Mt. Delilah looks super cool

The ascent on Sessel’s south face can be broken down into three stages. The first stage was quite steep and very loose and involved ascending a rib feature with a bit of hands-on scrambling at places. The second stage was flat and in earlier season I think snow would greatly speed things up, but not for us as we didn’t have that much snow to take advantage of. For the last third I stuck on climber’s left side to ascend the ridge which offered some more class 2 scrambling and better views than the face. In the end it was 800 vertical meters on scree and took at least 2 hours out of us. It’s one of those slogs that kept me looking at the GPS again and again but never seemed to get any closer….

The typical scree slog on Sessel Mountain’s south slope

A sideways view to show the scree. Pebble Peak behind

Plodding up with Mt. Delilah getting smaller and smaller

Onto the ridge now but still had a couple hundred meters to gain

Alex with Mt. Delilah

Summit Panorama from Sessel Mountain. Click to view large size.

A view looking down the steep north face.

Mt. Ethelweard by Athelney Pass

Mt. Vayu in the distance

In the foreground is Uriah’s Heap and Pika Peak

Mt. Thiassi

We could see the very top of Mt. Sampson’s north face

Mt. Sloan is apparently another classic in Gold Bridge area

A super zoomed-in shot of Mt. Dickson in Gold Bridge area

Paul approaching the summit with Mt. Delilah behind

Our group shot on the summit of Sessel Mountain

Me on the summit of Sessel Mountain

Another panorama from the summit of Sessel Mountain. Click to view large size.

The view from the summit was worthwhile though so we did spend a long break there soaking in the experience. On the descent I went for the face instead of retracing the ridge in search for lingering snow patches. The upper face was super shitty to descend with a ton of loose scree on a hardpacked base that reminded me the ol’ Canadian Rockies scrambles. The snow patches turned into snow fields upon getting closer and did speed our descend down the middle third, but of course the lower third was just as shitty as the upper third and none of us enjoyed it, not at all.. Once at the base we took another long break before committing to the glacial traverse back to the camp.

Me heading down the upper scree slopes. Photo by Alex R.

Lots and lots of scree….

Couldn’t see the very summit of Mt. Sampson now so this is just a sub peak

Me taking advantage of snow with Mt. Delilah behind. Photo by Alex R.

Alex descending on snow

We found at least one spot with hands-on scrambling…

Back to Boomerang Glacier now, looking at a sub-peak of Mt. Sampson massif

Paul descending the last bits off Sessel’s south slopes

After taking another long energy break we started the NE Ridge of Mt. Delilah that’s supposed to be fun.