Pollux Peak (Mount Jupiter)

May 26-27, 2019


Rogers Pass, BC

Pollux Peak is the highest among the three distinct summits on Mt. Jupiter. The area around Sapphire Col is more often travelled in winter and spring by skiers but the traverse from Castor Peak to Pollux Peak requires long stretches of 3rd and 4th class scrambling hence I don’t think the true summit of Mt. Jupiter is regularly done. The same route is fairly straightforward in summer conditions but as mentioned above, this is not a very popular zone for summer mountaineering, as climbers are more attracted to the nearby Sir Donald Range. My decision was to explore the ridge in what’s so called “shoulder season”, in which snowshoes were required on the approach, and yet the ridge was somewhat dry enough to scramble on. Earlier in the trip I had already ascended The Dome and Castor Peak and now I was on the way traversing towards Pollux Peak. The ridge looked dry enough to attempt.

The Dome and Mt. Jupiter via Sapphire Col. GPX DL

On the descent off SE Ridge of Castor Peak I had to stay away from snow for any cost because the snow was isothermal and offered no support. The quartzite nature of the ridge meant there were a ton of deep “rock crevasses” hidden under the soft snow. The scrambling was nonetheless only 3rd class albeit sustained. The distance from Castor Peak to Pollux Peak was longer than appeared and took me quite a while to cover the horizontal distances. Climbing up the NW ridge of Pollux Peak I had no choice but wallowing up a steep patch of snow and then had to find a line up the 4th class summit block. There were big positive holds everywhere but the climbing was quite vertical and exposed, but before realizing I had passed a rappel station and was soon on the summit. I dug into the summit cairn and found an old register with entries dated back to 1966. I decided against traversing towards Leda Peak.

Near Castor/Pollux col, looking ahead. The ridge doesn’t look too bad

Looking back towards Castor Peak. I had to resist the allure to use snow.

Summit Panorama from Pollux Peak. Click to view large size.

Mt. Donkin in the foreground with Purity Mountain behind

Mt. Fox and Mt. Dawson massif

A closer look at the iconic Mt. Fox

This is looking down Swanzy Glacier valley into Incomappleux River valley

The SE Face of Mt. Swanzy with the tip of Mt. Bonney poking behind

The register was at least 50 years old but there’s no pen so I couldn’t write

Me on the summit of Pollux Peak (Mt. Jupiter)

The return traverse back to Castor Peak felt much easier because I no longer had to do any route-finding. Then I immediately hiked down the NW Ridge back to the hut. On the lower snow slopes I didn’t bother to don snowshoes and the post-holing wasn’t too terrible. While trying the rental gears Antonie found out that the crampons weren’t compatible with his boots. There’s nothing we could do for such an unfortunate event, but otherwise the evening colours was incredible especially looking south towards Mt. Dawson and Purity Mountain.

Just below the summit, this is looking down into Asulkan Valley

The ridge traverse back towards Castor Peak

Looking back at the summit block of Pollux Peak

One of the only few spots that I could see the Illecillewaet Neve

Down-scrambling the NW Ridge of Castor Peak now. Easy peasy…

Looking towards the south ridge of The Dome from partway down Castor Peak

Back to hut, it’s almost evening glow time. This is Mt. Donkin and Purity Mountain

The NW Ridge of Castor Peak where I just came down from

A closer look at Hasler Peak and Feuz Peak on Mt. Dawson massif

Evening horizon looking north towards Mt. Rogers and Sir Donald Range

Mt. MacDonald, Avalanche Mountain and Eagle Peak

The hut at Sapphire Col, with south ridge of Mt. Swanzy behind

Another photo of the evening glow horizon. This is looking south

Mt. Selwyn, Hasler Peak and Feuz Peak that form the massif of Mt. Dawson

A zoomed-in shot of the uber remote Purity Mountain

My alarm went off at 3 am but I decided against soloing Mt. Swanzy for various reasons, so I slept in. Once the sun came out in the morning Antonie decided to solo Castor Peak to salvage the trip. I had already done it in the previous day so went back into my sleeping bag to get a couple extra hours of sleep. Once Antonie’s back from Castor Peak we quickly packed and then headed down Asulkan Glacier on snowshoes. The snow was supportive on the upper zone but got mushy lower down. The “series of ramps/rises” below the toe of Asulkan Glacier was the shittest where we discovered several shoulder-deep weak spots. The descent down to the creek was slightly better but still in the “shitty” domain. The creek was easily crossed while wearing snowshoes and so was the “mouse trap”. Into Asulkan Valley we tried our best to follow the trail and it helped that at least one hiker had gone up this way creating a clear set of boot tracks. We managed to avoid any form of bushwhacking and stayed exactly on trail for the rest of the return hike.

Morning view looking into Incomappleux River valley

Findhorn Peak – Mt. McBean – Tomatin Peak from L to R

Descending onto the upper Asulkan Glacier

Looking back at Sapphire Col

Antonie hiking down. The snow was firm and supportive here

Looking back towards Castor Peak

Ahead is the cleaver that separates Asulkan Glacier with Dome Glacier

Mt. Sir Donald provides an impressive backdrop

Antonie opted to post-hole down instead of playing with the snowshoes

Antonie continuing post-holing. Off the glacier now

This picture explains the snow condition once the sun came out…

The three peaks on Mt. Jupiter – Leda, Pollux and Castor from L to R

This stretch of ledges and ramps was the worst.

Into the lower moraine zone.

Crossing Asulkan Brook. I opted to keep the snowshoes on

Looking back at the 1000 m descent from Sapphire Col down to the valley

Ahead would be that infamous “Mouse Trap”

Hiking out on Asulkan Valley trail. This is one is the dry stretches

The foot bridge across the raging Asulkan Brook

Almost back to the summit parking lot. Still a bit of ways to the highway.

It was only 1 pm when we were back at the parking lot and I naturally thought about tagging another summit somewhere on the interior plateau before driving home. My original plan was a small peaklet near Kelowna but as I drove down towards Vernon I changed my mind. I remembered researching about Mt. Rose and Mt. Swanson many years ago and those peaks weren’t far from my current position. I pulled over at a gas station and did some quick research, and decided to hike up Mt. Rose in the evening.