Ymir Mountain

Ymir Mountain is renowned for its powder, but it’s also a perfectly hike-able summer excursion. Achieving the summit involves getting off trail to traverse the boulders and scree in the Ymir Bowl, but the reward is ridge-line hiking with spectacular views!

Trailhead: Whitewater Ski Hill Road
Distance, round trip: 6.7km
Elevation: +760m
Season: mid-July to late September
Difficulty:  Difficult


Driving up Whitewater Ski Hill Road is a breeze! It’s refreshing to take a well-maintained road with excessive amounts of parking at the top!

Exposure – there is exposure along Ymir’s ridges, be wary of the steep cliffs overhanging Ymir Bowl.

Rockfall – there is a risk of falling rock below Ymir Peak, especially if other hikers are on the route.

Looking up past the lodge, Ymir Mountain sits in the distance. There are two main hiking routes up Ymir and both are off-trail with some light scrambling:

  • The west ridge, which we took – read on!
  • The north ridge via Half Dome – check out the description at Whitewater Rocks.

Connecting these two approaches would make a nice loop, but we stuck to known terrain and took the west ridge both up and down.

Up the Lower Sluice Box

After leaving behind the car, walk past the Whitewater Ski Lodge to ascend the ‘Lower Sluice Box’ run, aiming straight for Ymir Mountain. There is an old rough road ascending the ski run which quickly narrows into a footpath.

Walking up the meadows of the Lower Sluice Box Run

The ‘Lower Sluice Box’ run winds pleasantly through meadows before intersecting with a road. The trail steps onto the road, walks up about 10m, then promptly steps off the road again at the end of a switchback.

The trail continues winding up through huckleberry bushes and riots of fireweed. Then it intersects a boulder field and disappears. Pretty much for good.

Hiking up the Bowl

Going left up the boulder field will take you to the north ridge via Half Dome, but we cut straight across the bowl to access the west ridge.

Here is the route we took:

Our route up and across Ymir Bowl

There are a few cairns dotting the ascent to the ridge, but they are sparse and inconsistent. We assessed the boulder fields and plotted a route that tried to minimize bushwhacking and steep terrain.

As we approached the west ridge, we aimed for a long narrow chute to the left of some steep rocky bluffs. The footing was occasionally loose, but this served a nice ramp.

The west ridge

At last! After 1.5 hours of hiking, we clamoured up onto Ymir’s West Ridge to enjoy some huge views of the landscape below! Looking ahead, we could see Ymir’s summit far beyond the massive boulders and changing larches.

Looking ahead towards Ymir’s summit

As we continued up the ridge, we caught faint scraps of trail among the rocks. It was a steady uphill climb with a few cliffy patches that called for a quick handhold.

Getting closer to Ymir’s summit
Looking back down the ridge towards the ski runs

As we neared the summit, the ridge-line suddenly dropped down into a deep notch with a chute far below. We had to bushwhack down Ymir’s southern slope to circumnavigate the notch,  and then we were on the final approach to the summit.

Approaching the summit

Ymir’s Summit

Looking south from Ymir’s summit

The view at the summit was amazing – overlapping peaks and ridges, fading into distant blue, as far as the eye could see!

We dug out the summit register, marvelled at the number of times local legend Gene Van Dyke had already hiked Ymir this year, and added our own two cents to the log book. Andrew wanted to make it very clear that “Ymir” should be pronounced “Ee-meer” as per its Norse origin. I pointed out the locals say “Why-mur”, so might as well go with the consensus. This argument continued down the mountain and will probably go on for the rest of our lives…

We could see the Valhalla Mountains, as well as the spiky peaks in Kokanee Glacier Park. Far away was a smear of white on the north-eastern horizon – the Macbeth Glacier.

Heading back down

After assessing the northern ridge, we decided it would just be simplest to return the way we came. The descent was slow going, but we carefully retraced our steps along the boulders.

Up on the west ridge

Download GPS of Ymir Mountain



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[…] The trail will wind through meadows, fading in and out, until it intersects with a gravel road. At this road, turning right will take you to the off-trail route to Ymir Peak . […]


[…] The trail will wind through meadows, fading in and out, until it intersects with a gravel road. At this road, turning right will take you to the off-trail route to Ymir Peak . […]

4 years ago
Trail Rating :

Summit Chair Ridge Route

Tried to get to Ymir via the Summit Chair ridge and would not recommend – a lot of extra distance, elevation, and bushwhacking are required on this route. We took the Summit Chair access road and then crossed a boulder field up to the ridge, however there were many sub-peaks prior to ascending Ymir. The route described in this post (cutting up the bowl) is much faster!

(Comment imported from old trail rating system)

Trip Date

[…] 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 a lot more […]

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