23 July 2016
Mount Storelk is a relatively short scramble that surprised us with the amount of routefinding that was required to get up the difficult east face. Once on the main ridge we enjoyed a good amount of sustained, moderate to difficult scrambling to the summit.
We started out in perfect hiking weather – not too cold, but cool enough to put on a good pace right from the beginning. The trailhead is well-marked and a good trail leads straight to the first creek crossing where we got held up for some time due to unusually high water levels that required us to do some searching for a good spot to cross. Trevor eventually found a good tree log that got us to the other side. The strange thing about the approach trail is that it crosses this same creek three times instead of just staying on one side. After the second crossing the path appears to peter out and we lost it for a while. Higher up, after the third and final crossing we lost it yet again and made an unnecessary detour to the east ridge instead of heading straight for the col.
From the col, the east face looked a bit intimidating at first, but we knew there are at least two or three possible routes in there so we just jumped right in. We probably went a bit too far to the left instead of sticking closer to the edge of the ridge. The result was some very steep, difficult scrambling on rubbly ledges and narrow gullies. It’s always best to be slow and careful on this type of terrain, so we took our time. One short step in a smooth gully required a few awkward moves, but the exposure was manageable. We topped out on the main ridge quite a ways to the south of where we found a cairn and where we eventually descended (probably the correct ascent/descent route), but our route worked just as well and we had fun searching for the best line up.
The main ridge that leads north to the summit is not to be underestimated either. It reminded me a bit of the ridge leading up to Mount Pocaterra, which is of course along the same mountain range just further north, so no surprise it is similar. I stayed on the ridge crest almost all the way, while Trevor took several detours bypassing the steepest parts of the ridge on the left (west). The scrambling on the ridge crest was quite enjoyable but it certainly required care and full concentration – several sections were very narrow and exposed with no room for mistakes.
We enjoyed some terrific summit views but had to huddle down on the east side behind the summit cairn to avoid the very persistent winds coming from the west. Sitting there and eating our lunch was quite uncomfortable and after only 20 minutes we were chilled to the bone, despite having donned jacket, gloves and toque – in the middle of July!
After heading back along the main ridge, we decided to descend where we had seen the big cairn earlier on. It took us down rubbly ledges diagonally back to the smooth gully step and was probably a bit more efficient and easier than our route up. Our round-trip time in the end was about 7 hours in total, so despite all the getting lost and routefinding it was still a short trip compared to many others that I’ve done recently. I think Storelk is a neat scramble but I would only recommend it to those who have strong routefinding skills and who enjoy difficult scrambling on loose rock.
DISCLAIMER: Use at your own risk for general guidance only! Do not follow this GPX track blindly but use your own judgement in assessing terrain and choosing the safest route.