"The peaks of the Battle Range are startling and dramatic, superb examples of mountain architecture at its finest. A stay in the range during a period of settled weather will amply repay all the effort expended in reaching the remote fastnesses of this beautiful range."
"The group is mostly granitic and its rock is often of high quality. Routes of superlative quality abound; some of the finest climbing in the Columbia ranges is to be found here. Routes of all standards on rock, snow, glacier and ice are all available."
"Excellent routes on rock, snow and ice abound. The peaks are, in general, granite. It is more broken "alpine" rock than the monolithic formations of a Yosemite or Squamish. Some of the very finest climbing in the Columbia Mountains is to be found here."
The Melville Group contains essentially all the higher peaks in the range and it is anticipated that we will use one of the two high camps which are usually the starting points for climbs here. It is also possible to hike to Oasis Lake, from which the Westfall group can be reached. While this page cannot begin to cover the many climbs in the area, here is a listing of many of them. For more details refer to the climbing guide (listed with maps at bottom of page). There is also a short description of the difficulty ratings below.
There are routes spanning a wide range of difficulties, from Class 3-4 through at least 5.8 A4.
Mt Butters, 3140 m: "It's whole northern side is sheer and imposing"; SE Ridge (II, 4, s, *); N Ridge (III, 5.7, A1, s/i); S Glacier (II, 4, s/g); SW Ridge (II, 4, s/g); S Ridge (II, 5.0, s/g, *)
Mount Ahab, 3050 m: "Boasts a sheer, glacier-hung north face. Traverses to/from Butters are enjoyable."; NE Ridge (II, 4, s/g); SE Face (I, 4, s/g); S Ridge (I, 4, s); Butters-Ahab Traverse (II, 5.0, s/g, **)
Schooner Ridge, 2560-2900 m: The ridge consists of Jigger Peak, Mizzenmast Peak, Mainmast Peak, and Foremast Peak. The peaks are traversed in various combinations and offer pleasant climbing even though the rock is not as high in quality as the peaks in the center of the group. The climbing is mostly 4th class with a few 5.4 routes. These are not listed as involving snow or glacier travel.
Forecastle Peak, 2930 m: E Ridge (II, 5.4, s/g, *); NW Ridge (II, 4, s/g)
"The northern battlements of the great ridge extending from Moby Dick Mountain at the east end to Harpoon Peak at the west are the single most impressive feature of the entire Battle Range. This marvelous ridge scarcely drops below 3000 meters in its entire distance. Partial traverses have been made, yielding at least 2 superlative routes."
Moby Dick Mountain, 3170 m: West Ridge (IV, 5.1, s/g, ***); NW Ridge (IV, 5.5, s/g, *); Ohno Wall (VI, 5.8, A4); South Face (II, 4, s/g); E Ridge (III, 5.0, A0, s/g)
Benito Cereno Mountain, 3060 m: "The traverses from Benito Cereno east to Moby Dick and west to Proteus are both splendid climbs"; W Ridge (II, 4, s/i/g); E Ridge (II, 5.1, s/i/g); S Face (II, 4, s/i/g); S Ridge (II, 5.0, s/i/g)
White Jacket Mountain, 3090 m: SW Ridge (II, 4, s/g); S Couloir (II, 4, s/g); SE Ridge (III, 5.6, s/i/g, **); E Ridge (II, 5.1, s/i/g, *); E Ridge var (III, 5.1, s/i/g, **)
Mount Proteus, 3220 m: "Offers some of the best snow, ice and glacier climbing in the group"; SW Glacier (III, 4, s/g); S Glacier (III, 4, s/i/g, *); Proteus Glacier (III, 4, s/i/g, **); SW Ridge (II, 4, s, *)
Harpoon Peak, 3120 m: S Ridge (II, 4, s/g); S Ridge var (III, 5.4, s/g, *)
Escalade Peak, 2950 m: "An imposing rock spire"; E Ridge (II, 5.7, s/g, *); W Ridge (II, 5.2, s/g, *)
Western Wing: The peaks of the western end of the group include Fafnir, Obstacle, Grendel, Beowulf, and Illusion. These offer 3rd class climbing with no glacier travel and are rarely visited.
The roman numeral is the overall grade, the next number is the class with Class 3 being scrambling which few people will need a rope for and Class 4 being scrambling which many will wish to belay. Details on the grade numbers and the class 5 ratings can be found many other places and it is assumed that those interested in climbing at those levels understand the ratings.
An (s) means snow climbing, and (i) means ice, and a (g) means glacier travel. None of these are broken down by difficulty, so a (g) may mean a small glacier easily crossed or it may mean a large broken up glacier with masked crevasses. Maps, photos, and full route descriptions shed additional light.
The climbing guide gives stars rather sparingly, there are a surprising number in this group with at least one.
Climbing guide and maps
"The Columbia Mountains of Canada - Central"; Fox, Laurilla, Putnam, Whipple; American Alpine Club
Westfall River 82K/14 - Covers Battle range - Available from ITMB