Approach directions to Lunette Peak/Mt Assiniboine via south approach (Also Mounts Eon and Aye)
Click to enlarge photos
Mount Assiniboine and Lunette Peak south side seen from near Lunette Lake. Approximate route shown. These were the first ascent routes by Sir James Outram in 1901.
Assiniboine south slopes from Lunette Peak showing route from Assiniboine/Lunette col. Scrambling if free of snow, but these conditions don't last for long most summers. Also, it is scrambling ONLY if you are an experienced at finding the easiest way (such as you gain climbing other big, loose mountains that DON'T have a trail. Wall climbing and cragging don't teach you route-finding.) If you feel the need to rope up, you're probably off route on these ones.
Drive Banff-Radium Highway (#93) to SETTLERS ROAD located 19.9 km north of Radium townsite on east side of Highway 93. If coming from Calgary and Castle junction, Settlers Road turnoff is past (west of) the viewpoint for Hector Gorge and 43 km past Vermilion Crossing. Watch for a large sign " Settlers Road".
Watch for logging and ore trucks on Settlers Road.
Follow gravel road for 13 km and turn left onto BAYMAG MINES ROAD, (signed as Cross River Road) The correct road will be abnormally white due to white magnesite ore hauled out from Baymag Mine by ore trucks. (Baymag Mine is at GR931258 on NTS Assiniboine map 82 J/13.)
Follow road for about 8.5 km, then go right.
Follow for 12 km, then go left; upper part of Assiniboine is visible from this point.
Keep following this road. Immediately before the entrance to Baymag Mine site, turn right and follow a rough logging road that parallels Aurora Creek's south side. Continue through logged areas; there is a small bridge over Aurora Creek after some 4 km from junction. The road ends here on the logged south slopes of Mount Aye. Park by bridge at GR 952287 map 82 J/13 Mt Assiniboine.
To get to Lunette Peak 3398m / Mt. Assiniboine 3618 m, just follow the right (east) side of Assiniboine Creek (which Aurora Creek flows into) to Lunette Lake and the south side of Assiniboine. Apparently a trail now starts in the NNW corner of the clearcut. Check for it in daylight to make things easier in the morning! We stayed close to the creek most of the way. The trail goes to either Lunette or Assiniboine Lake depending on which branch you take at a fork. (Note: Don't mistakenly follow a trail on the left/north side of Aurora Creek that goes northeast to Marvel Pass at GR999315)
En route to Assiniboine is one swift-flowing side stream cascading steeply down from the west slope of Mount Aye, which you must cross. We went some 100 feet up the hillside to find 2 fallen logs (criss-crossing each other) that we bum-slid across on. I found this to be the crux of the trip! Otherwise there are few difficulties on the approach.
The trail splits just before Lunette Lake and if you're not paying attention you might forget to take the righthand trail here to reach Lunette Lake. You might keep following the other trail up to Assiniboine Lake and not even get up Lunette Peak as a result.
As you approach the objectives, Lunette Peak blends in with the right skyline ridge of Assiniboine and hardly appears as a separate peak. The view is very foreshortened too. Go around Lunette Lake on the right, up scree towards the bulge at base of peak and when under steep cliffs of Lunette, work left scrambling up towards the Assiniboine-Lunette col. To climb Lunette, descend slightly from the col and traverse to the right (east) on wide ledges. Scramble up through the rockband once youve reached a feasible place and reach Lunettes summit. No rope is necessary if you traverse far enough right before heading up the last bit. (Assuming it is snow-free.) The first ascents of both peaks were via these routes by James Outram in 1901. Lunette was done in thick fog by mistake; Outram's party was trying for Assiniboine.
Mount Assiniboine can be readily ascended from the Assiniboine/Lunette col too. From the col, angle up to the left looking for the easiest terrain to scramble through the rockband and then plod to the top (usually snowy). There is a good view of the route on the approach. Allow about 5-7 hours from car to top of Lunette. Add 1.5-2 hours if youre doing Assiniboine instead. We took 6.5 hours to the top of Lunette. Two friends have done Assiniboine and Lunette round trip in a long day from the car, in mid-August. Although the North Ridge is the classic ascent side, the south side is simpler and easier to reach: No helicopter or 15 mile approach walk required.
You can also reach the Hind Hut from this direction, traversing around the mountain. The trip is described in Hikes around Invermere and Columbia River Valley, by Cameron and Gunn, available through Rocky Mtn Books.
Camping at the peaks? Perhaps try the outlet stream of Lunette Lake.
Driving Time? Calgary to Aurora Creek (where you park) is about 3.5-4 hrs.
Critters: Some people encircle their car with "chicken wire" and hold it down with logs or rocks to prevent porcupines from crawling underneath and chewing brakelines and radiator hoses.
Take me back to Assiniboine
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