Ymir Mountain

September 5, 2021


Nelson, BC

Ymir Mountain is the highest summit in the immediate vicinity of Whitewater Ski Resort about 20 minutes of driving to the south-east of Nelson, and because of the ski resort this peak is very accessible. In summer time one can park at the ski resort and from there a rough trail facilitates the ascent. With under 800 m of elevation gain this peak is a very short outing and thus a great introductory objective to the area. I had previously never visited the loosely-defined region of “West Kootenays”. My first foray into Nelson area had been long overdued mostly because I couldn’t find partner(s) to commit to the long drive and the (relatively) smaller summits of the area. However, with the advancing of social media these days Gimli Peak had started to caught the masses’ attention especially in 2021 so when I threw out the idea to Holly she instantly agreed. The two of us together had two days and three nights in this Labour Day long weekend and I figured we should squeeze in a secondary hike. It took us a while to decide on Ymir Mountain.

On Saturday evening Holly picked me up in her SUV at around 7:30 pm and we drove out eastwards in pouring rain. The rain stopped when we entered Manning Park and we pushed all the way to East Gate before calling it a day. We found a neat pull-out and slept in the vehicle. The following day we woke up late (because we were tired) and resumed the eastwards journey into the Kootenays, but the first stop was to swim at Bromley Rock. Believe it or not this was actually my first swim outside indoor or designated swimming areas. The weather had been mostly overcast and the smoke had blown in making our motivation low. I even thought about to skip Ymir Mountain but did not bring this idea to the conversation. Instead, I slept most of the time while Holly did the driving. We eventually drove into Nelson at around 2 pm and made to Whitewater Ski Resort half an hour later. The weather and smoke situation seemed a little better than a couple hours ago so we quickly geared up and started the ascent.

Ymir Mountain via the standard route. GPX DL

Holly had downloaded a GPS track from AllTrails app so there’s really no magic about this hike. We followed a path dashing down one of the ski runs to the boundary of the ski resort and from there, we picked up a signed path leading into “Ymir Basin”. The trail soon disappeared into some massive boulder fields but there were still markers and cairns. We did somehow get off-route for a while and had to briefly bushwhack. We then ascended into a gully feature with some loose rocks and after that we aimed for a low-angled break point on Ymir Mountain’s west ridge. The last 20 meters to gain this ridge involved some scrambling on again, loose rocks.

This was the start of the hike, in the middle of a ski run
Ymir Mountain’s NW Face from the end of the ski run
Me finding our way into the lower basin
As you can see, we had to hop on boulders and dodge bushy patches
A while later we aimed for this obvious gully to access the upper basin
Holly in the lower basin with Whitewater Ski Resort behind
Partway up the gully
Taking a needed break in the upper basin. It was a humid day
We followed cairns and markers to access the ridge

From this point all we needed was to stick to the path/trail on the ridge all the way to the summit. There were a few scrambling sections as well as a couple “notches” that required briefly descending, but nothing really worth noting. While ascending the final ridge I somehow missed the trail on the crest and instead, plodded more on the south face side but in the end, all options worked. There’s some cold breezes on the summit that forced us to don all the layers we had brought up, even though this had been overall a hot and humid day.

Onto the east ridge, we still had trails and cairns to follow
Me tackling a scrambly step
The summit’s in sight down the ridge
Mt. Elise is that forested peak right of center in the background
The SW Ridge to the summit ahead of us
Holly at the final “notch” before the SW Ridge scramble
Partial Summit Panorama from Ymir Mountain. Click to view large size.
Partial Summit Panorama from Ymir Mountain. Click to view large size.
Holly on the summit of Ymir Mountain
Me on the summit of Ymir Mountain in front of “North Qua” and “Qua Peak”
This is looking towards a whole bunch of unnamed peaks to the NE
The unofficially-named “North Qua” to the south
Another photo of Holly on the summit but looking at a different direction
A portrait shot of me on the summit
Holly and I on the summit of Ymir Mountain

After about an hour on the summit we decided to finally go down. There were a bunch of unofficially-named summits in the immediate vicinity and we decided against in bagging any of them. We simply retraced our exact route down and out with a few minor variations. Lower down in the basin we managed to skip any bushwhacking by staying lower on the boulder fields. We then drove back into the town on Nelson for some gas and food. This is a beautiful town rich of history but unfortunately we did not have extra time to really explore it. With only an hour of daylight time left we had to immediately start the long-ish drive into the Valhallas.

Time to start descending. We stuck on the ridge on the descent
A trail’s been but through these bushes
In the foreground is the unofficially-named “Half Dome”
The clearing horizon looking west
Me posing in front of the ski resort and White Queen on the descent
Partway down the west ridge, looking back
Holly hiking through some larch trees. We were too early for the colours
This stretch of boulder field is very unstable
Holly having fun in the boulder field
Another look at the NW Face of Ymir Mountain
More unpleasant terrain to descend
Holly posing for another shot since the sun had come out
Partway down the gully. The rocks were still somewhat loose
Lower down we stayed lower to avoid bushwhacking for as much as we could
We re-ascended a bit to join the trail
Back to the main trail in the ski resort
Me hiking down the trail.
One last photo of Holly plodding down the ski resort trail