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Thunder Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 2355
Elevation Gain (m): 975
Trip Time (hr): 5
Total Trip Distance (km): 11
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Mostly hiking and easy scrambling with some loose terrain and minor exposure along ridges.
GPS TrackDownload GPX File
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps


Taking advantage of my temporary bachelor status, I took Thursday July 10 2008 off work and drove down to the Crowsnest Pass area to do an interesting and short scramble – Thunder Mountain. Why is this mountain interesting? Well, it’s the first mountain in the Canadian Rockies climbed by a non-aboriginal. I thought that was cool. Thanks to Bob Spirko’s trip report and first hand accounts from Wietse and Keith, I knew that it was a good solo objective too. First of all, it’s not a super-long trip. Secondly, it’s not very difficult and thirdly, it’s mostly a ridge walk so there’s less chance of running into angry mammals on the way.

Thunder Mountain Route Map

Since I left home pretty early, I managed to get to the trail head at around 08:15 under a pretty clear sky. The forecast didn’t look to bright anywhere else in the Rockies, which is the other reason I drove 2 hours to do a short scramble. By 08:30 I was hoofing it up a thin trail to the crest of the ridge. The trick is to drive past the ridge and then turn around a park on the side of the road. You should spot a line trending up to the ridge crest from here. There’s a plaque on a rock right near the top of this line.

Breaking out of the trees, this is the wonderful view of the ridge ahead.
Great views north to Livingstone Ridge – Thrift Peak (L) and Camp Creek Ridge (R).
Getting higher on the ridge. The rock was generally very solid till about this point and even then, I’ve had much, much worse!

From here to the summit there are multiple lines and many cairns to follow. I would rate some of the terrain as moderate but mostly it can be avoided. This was a terrific scramble on fairly decent rock with great views. The wind was actually much stronger on the ridge than closer to the summit which was a rare gift in the Crowsnest area! I took almost an hour at the summit to take pictures, look around and catch a quick nap before heading back down. It was a considerably hotter descent than the ascent and the wind felt good.

Looking south along the spine of the Livingstone peaks towards Center and Caldron.
The north ridge and Livingstone Ridge (Thrift Peak) and Camp Creek Ridge to the north at left.
L to R, Center, Coulthard, MacLaren, Andy Good, Parrish, Chinook, Sentry, Ma Butte, Crowsnest, Seven Sisters, Phillips, Tecumseh, Erickson, Window, Allison, Ward, Racehorse, Domke, Secord, Erris, Gould Dome, Funnel, Tornado, Elevators, Beehive, Sugarloaf, Lyall, Gass, O’Rourke, Pasque, Twin Peaks, Monad, Isola, Livingstone, Coffin, Thrift & Camp Creek Ridge.

A highly recommended scramble, especially if you’re solo or looking for a short, leisure day. I took my time and was down within 5 hours.

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