This is the little summit at the south end of The Tower with a great view. In his snowshoe book Andrew describes a route from the Rummel Lake trail with moderate avalanche risk. We were looking through Matt Clay’s website and discovered he’d been up from the north side via Engadine Creek, a route with no avalanche risk whatsoever. This sounded good and we were eager to try it out.
From the highway we followed the Engadine burn up the north side of Engadine Creek — a favourite place for skiers who have packed down a really good wide trail with zigs available at steep bits. Down below on the right Engadine Creek is enclosed below steep banks. The good trail ended about 1000 ft up at the top of the steep section where most skiers turn around, a few carrying on into the open upper valley between Mt.Engadine and The Tower. This V-shaped valley, threatened by avalanche slopes on both sides, is not a good objective.
So after a leisurely lunch we turned back and at 182344 found traces of Matt’s trail cutting across to Engadine Creek at a place where it was crossable. It had snowed a little since the 17th but we had no problem in following the tracks across the main creek, then across the creek from the col and onto the northwest ridge to the junction with the south bank trail (Matt’s first attempt route). From here the twisting trail up the ridge was a delight to snowshoe. About half a km from the top we climbed out of the larch zone onto the open ridge where we had to break the trail anew. View from the summit? We had a grey day, the weather worsening as the day went on, the tops clagging in, snow falling lightly. So no good photos. View Matt’s account for pics taken on a clear day. He also has a GPS tracklog you can download.
On the descent we took the south bank trail to see what it was like, but didn’t really like it; too much slip-sliding through bushes at steep points. Maybe the route can be tweeked, but meanwhile I would recommend returning the same way.
This deserves to become a classic snowshoe trip and I hope the trail’s kept open. It’s a straightforward plod with lots of height gain to a very fine viewpoint. High point 2452 m (8045 ft.) Height gain 635 m (2083 ft.) Our rating intermediate. Start on Hwy. 742 (Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail), 1.3 km north of the Mount Engadine Lodge turnoff.
Looking across from the summit toward the Tower you can see the avalanche slope where a party of two triggered a fatal avalanche a few years ago. The incident is described in detail in The Anatomy of an Avalanche Accident on page 10 of Backcountry Avalanche Safety. The picture shows the approximate area where the avalanche was triggered. It released the snow in the main gully all the way up to col!