Fossil Mountain

Elevation: 2946 m
Elevation Gain: 1220 m from Skoki parking area - 670 m from Hidden Lake.
Like nearby Mount Richardson, Fossil Mountain is part of the Slate Range. It was named (perhaps not surprisingly) for the abundance of fossils which litter its scree slopes in 1906. Fossil Mountain was the site of the first recorded ski fatality in the Canadian Rockies when well-regarded mathematician Raymond Paley triggered a slide while skiing alone in 1933. Sadly, as the memorial plaque at the summit can attest, Paley’s is not the only ski fatality on this peak.
My Ascents:
August 3 2012

Happy birthday to me! After 3 straight days of unsettled (read: rainy, snowy, cold) weather in the back-country, day 4 dawned no differently than the others. I awoke to the depressing sound of cold rain pelting our tent. At least the poor weather had kept the killer porcupines at bay but I was completely disheartened when I opened the tent flap to see clouds enveloping all of the nearby peaks. Brianne was still asleep and I saw no point to waking her just so that she could be cold again so I let her sleep in while I wallowed in weather-related self pity. Still at the forefront in my mind’s eye was the big question that I’d been waiting several days now to ask her. I pictured the moment on top of a summit in the glorious August sunshine with a register entry to record the whole thing. That plan was looking less and less likely as the rain continued to pour down. After an hour or so, she awoke and we made our way to the Halfway Hut to cook birthday breakfast – a dehydrated pan-scrambler. We had left her soaking jacket in the hut the night before to dry and when we returned the next morning, found that someone had taken it leaving a note: “You forgot your jacket here so I took it. If you can describe it, e-mail me at _____ and I will give it back.” Wonderful. Now it was cold and raining and Brianne had a nice note to keep herself dry. Alas, however, it’s always darkest before the dawn and as we finished breakfast and started to pack up camp (we were set to move deeper into Skoki to Baker Lake today), the rain dissipated and the clouds showed signs of dissipating. Perhaps today would be a happy birthday afterall?

Miracle of miracles! Blue sky reveals an impressive plume of cloud blowing off of the summit of Temple as we pack up camp at Hidden Lake. The only question: how long will this last?

Maybe the weather will finally be good today (it is my birthday afterall)?!

Same view 10 minutes later. Never mind...

Our camping permit dictated that we had to move from the Hidden Lake campground to the Baker Lake campground today. We questioned our sanity for venturing deeper into Skoki in this weather, however, things started to look a little better as we neared Ptarmigan Lake.

We weren't the only ones soaked after several days of rain...

At least the views were steadily improving. Looking back to Mount Redoubt on the other side of Ptarmigan Lake from near Deception Pass.

We saw diggings and fresh scat everywhere. Good thing Parks put up a sign. Fortunately, the area highlighted on the sign didn't include our new campground at Baker Lake. Must mean there aren't any bears there, right?

Heavy packs en route to Baker Lake. Some bright guy decided to put the campground at the far end of the lake...

Strolling along the shore of Baker Lake shortly before setting up camp. At camp, we set things up and I realized how sore my back had become - ever since I started my desk job, I've had problems with my back. I just wasn't designed to sit 5 days a week; I need to be out climbing! I laid on the hard earth while my nurse prescribed 1.5 times the maximum dose of Advil (the high test stuff). Luckily, it numbed me right up! Let the birthday scrambling begin!

With my back numbed and our camp set up at Baker Lake, we settled on Fossil Mountain as our objective due primarily to its proximity. The views, like this one of Mount St. Bride, on our ascent were stunning.

Awesome views of Ptarmigan Peak (left) and the Wall of Jericho (right) above the Skoki Lakes (Zigadenus and Myosotis).

"Why can't you just be happy in the pretty meadows?! Why do you always have to get to a summit?" - an excerpt from the "meltdown in the meadow". Fatigue reared it's head about 1/3 of the way up Fossil Mountain and Brianne went goat-zilla on me. I tried to explain to her that we didn't have to bag the peak and that I would be perfectly happy to sit in this beautiful meadow with her instead. She didn't believe me though and, ultimately, insisted on going on and continuing to the summit so that I could have a happy birthday. I'm lucky to have her...or is it the other way around? ;) In the end, I think she's happy that we decided to continue slogging up to the summit.

With that awful pleasant meadow behind us, an endless pile of loose, steep scree awaits. Happy birthday to me!

Receding glaciers on the north face of Ptarmigan Peak from the steep upper slopes of Fossil Mountain.

Breath-taking birthday summit panorama. One of my favorites ever! One view that makes up for days of rain, snow and cold! Click to see larger. From left to right: Anthazoan Mountain, Brachiopod Mountain, Heather Ridge, Mount Redoubt, Ptarmigan Lake, Ptarmigan Peak, the Skoki Lakes and the Wall of Jericho. The Valley of the Ten Peaks, Mount Temple and the Lake Louise group provide a scenic backdrop. The perfect place for...

"Brianne Christison, will you marry me?" Like nearby Mount Richardson, there was no summit register on Fossil Mountain but with views and company this magnificent, I decided not to let that stand in the way of a perfect proposal. I didn't actually have the camera set up for the proposal but we re-enacted it a few minutes later to get the photo. I think she just wanted to hear me ask again! ;)

She said "yes!" I didn't have a ring yet because I wanted to shop for one together but she seemed just almost as happy to be bought off with celebratory white chocolate!

With the marriage proposal out of the way, let the summit photography begin! A sea of peaks to the north.

Ptarmigan's receding Glacier, the Wall of Jericho and Mount Hector with the Waputik Icefields beyond.

Beautiful Mount Balfour and the southern end of the Waputik Icefields.

Proposal panorama. Click to see larger.

The view to the east including Brachiopod Mountain and Anthazoan Moutain (sites of our next day's adventures) on the far right.

Red Deer Lakes and Skoki Mountain to the north.

Deception Pass and the Skoki Lakes below Ptarmigan Peak and the Wall of Jericho. The Wall of Jericho looks completely different from this vantage relative to our first view of it on Mount Richardson.

The impressive peaks of the continental divide to the south beyond Ptarmigan Lake.

Mount Temple and the Goodsir Towers (the third and second highest peaks in the Southern Canadian Rockies, respectively). I find that Temple looks especially sexy from this angle!

Enfianced summit shot (yes, that is a word - I heard it on Sex and the City).

Impressive Mount St. Bride for my new bride to be! ;)

Impressive Mount Douglas - ummm...also for my new bride to be!

And they scrambled happily ever after. :)

Mount Ball and Stanley Peak in distant Kootenay National Park.

Time to head back to camp to celebrate! It's not every birthday on which you get engaged on top of a mountain!

Making up time on descent! Flying goat. The reason that she's in such a hurry is that we have beer back at camp!

Fossil Mountain in the fading light.

Fresh off an engagement, it was time for a celebration! Happy engagement/birthday!

Gourmet: Peppercorn steak and rice. Looks good, no?

Happy birthday to me! Ummm...freeze-dried ice cream sandwich! And yes, that is a mosquitoe on my forehead. By this point in the trip, we didn't even notice them anymore.

Sunset on Baker Lake. The perfect conclusion to, what ended up being, a perfect day!

He's ba-aackk...looks like another night of terror before our next objective, Brachiopod Mountain.