Matt and Alexis joined me for an ascent of Illabot Peaks. For years I had been planning on the southwest approach because it seems like what most people do. But the day before our trip, I found a Ken Jones report from 2017 which mentioned a good road and good trail coming from the south. The road up the south ridge starts from the Suattle road. I could even see the trail clearly on satellite photos and it appeared to go all the way to Lake Louise.

This trail passing numerous lakes and tarns is certainly not what I had expected from this peak. It was actually pleasant. Likely to be a fisherman’s trail since it ends above Lake Louise. From there we traversed east through a pass and then down to two small tarns. We traversed northeast and dropped 100 feet to avoid obstacles in the forest and steeper traversing above. Then north up over a pass and down some snow into another small basin.

200 feet below the pass, we followed a gully west to some flats. From here a gully leads north to the upper west ridge of Illabot. The gully shows on the map but is hard to actually see in person, because of some dense trees at the start. There’s a steep area around 5200 feet, where we worked around to the right to avoid vertical mossy rock. At 5400 feet, it is better to work up slopes toward the northeast rather than to aim directly for the lowest saddle.

Much of the upper mountain is steep and covered in heather or loose layers of needles from the trees. Vegetable belays are a must, especially branches. The last 200 feet are a bit tricky for route finding. At first we thought to ascend the big gully directly south of the summit, but when we went there it was nasty looking and sketchy to drop into. Matt worked up the rib, left of the gully and we followed.

From that point on, we probed the upper reaches. I went to explore some ledges he suggested, but it was a dead end. Then we found a sort of hidden minor gully near the west ridge crest, with class 4 slabs to the right of it. Matt climbed the slabs and trailed the rope. Then he belayed us up.

Above the belay, we scrambled through dense krumholtz and passed the top of the big gully. After more dense trees we were on top. The 2006 Fay register is in sad shape, soaked and mushy. Looks like nobody has tried to sign it in a long time. We let it sit in the sun for 30 minutes, but it would have needed at least an hour to dry.

This peak has surprisingly far reaching views for being under 6000 feet. I was surprised by how many distant peaks we could identify even with the partial clouds. On the way down we rappelled the class 4 slabs with a 30 meter rope and made another rappel on steep slippery slopes around 5200 feet. Thanks Matt and Alexis for a very fun day.

Route to summit

South Ridge

Distance

no info yet

Time

no info yet

Elevation

no info yet

Obstacles

routefinding, rockfall/loose rock, rappels

Key gear

helmet, rope/harness