Summit Trail – Whitewater Ski Resort

Yes, you can hike ALL OF THE SUMMITS! Or at least as many as your want. This new trail zig zags up Whitewater Ski Resort to access several peaks on the “summit side” of the hill.

Summary
Trailhead: Whitewater Ski Hill Road
Distance, round trip: 8.4km (to Hummingbird Peak)
Elevation: +521m (to Hummingbird Peak)
Season: late June to late September
Difficulty:  Moderate
Download file: Summit trail.gpx

Trailhead and Driving Directions

Drive all the way up Whitewater Ski Hill Road to park near the main lodge. This road is generally good for 2WD low clearance vehicles.

Arriving at Whitewater – peaks from left to right: Ymir, Hummingbird, Prospector.

Up the Summit Trail

Walk past the main lodge and head to where the Hummer Handle Tow runs in the winter. You’ll cross Apex Creek on a bridge and then the trail immediately starts, heading along the creek and running above the top of the blue tow equipment.

Bridge over Apex Creek where the trail starts

The trail crosses a few creeklets, and then begins to wind pleasantly up the Motherlode Ski Run. The footing is soft, the grade is moderate, and the fall colours are explosive. Look for cairns and red/white paint, but the trail is well-built and easy to follow.

As you near the top of the ski run, the trails emerges on an old road that turns into the Catch Basin Ski Way in the winter. Here there is a loop to head over to Sherpa Peak.

Summit #1: Sherpa

If you’re planning to hike the loop to Sherpa Peak, I recommend hiking it counter-clockwise and turning right after reaching the Ski Way. This means you’ll do the steep climb going up, and have an easier, gentler grade going down when you walk along the ridge.

View along Sherpa Peak
A map showing the Sherpa Peak Loop (hiking clock-wise). We only hiked to Prospector and Hummingbird. From Peter Ooslander, Kootenay Mountaineering Club.

Sherpa doesn’t have as prominent a view as the other peaks – it’s a tree’d summit with lookouts over the valley. You’ll reached a signed junction at the top of the Sherpa Peak loop and then can hike a short, flat out-and-back to the summit.

Onwards to the Ridge

If you are skipping Sherpa Peak like we initially did, turn left on the Catch Basin Ski Way. The boulder field along the ski way had been turned into a side walk! What a lot of work and very appreciated. Watch for paint where the trail cuts up to the ridgeline. This area is blazing with larches in the fall.

The sidewalk experience!

On the ridge, you’ll see another junction that heads right to Sherpa Peak to complete the loop along the ridge. We continued left to Prospector and Hummingbird peaks and found a helpful sign with the distances and elevations to 3 of the peaks.

Trail info and fall colours!

Now at this point, the trail fades to a route with flagging tape. If you want to continue on to the summits, it’s recommended to bring a map and be familiar with the area. The flagging tape is hard to follow in some places and it goes from boot-beaten path to full bushwack.

Summit #2: Prospector

Follow the flagging tape it leads you along the ridge and up through the forest behind Prospector Peak. The route is sometimes clear and sometimes lost, and poles are recommended as there is a lot of side-hilling with no trail.

Follow the tape

Reach the summit of Prospector and you’ll be treated to a big view… as well as probably the desire to go a little further. Hummingbird Peak is just 0.4km away but will give you a higher vantage point over the valley. We reached Prospector after hiking 2 hours from the trailhead.

View from the summit of Prospector, Hummingbird Peak is just 0.4km away!

Summit #3: Hummingbird

It’s not even a 10 minute walk over to Hummingbird Peak. Continue following the flagging tape and scraps of path. You’ll come to a tree fort and fire ring just before reaching the summit.

Tree fort below Hummingbird Peak?

Summit #4: Ymir

Continuing on to Ymir Peak? You’re in for more route-finding and a journey that feels a bit airy along the ridges. Check out the Ymir Mountain post for more information on this section of the hike. It’s just 1 km, but about 500m elevation with some scrambly sections.

Hiking up to Ymir’s Summit from 2017. It’s an option for advanced hikers.

Retracing your steps, you’ll have the option of summiting Sherpa Peak on the way back and hiking a loop. We opted not to do this, but you’ll see the signed turn-off as you near the ridge below Prospector.

Hiking back to the Ski Way, through larches in early October

Heading down

Watch for cairns and paint marking the trail back down Motherlode. It’s such a wonderfully built trail and winds all the way back down to the lodge.

Hiking down through fall colours
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Peter Oostlander
Peter Oostlander
2 months ago
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The map “A map showing the Sherpa Peak Loop” is from the KMC hike that I organized Sunday, October 2nd. This loop can be done in around 5 hours, taking a steeper route back from the ridge to the new trail just below the summit chair. Have fun!

Trip Date
2022-10-02
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