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Upper Duncan (Kootenays) to have bridges pulled in 2016 #4495
Back To Discussion List Written: 2015.11.05 by: Dean Richards

The Duncan River above Duncan Lake (north of Kootenay Lake) drains a large area of the Purcells and Selkirks. In the Selkirks, it draind the east side of the Battle Range (Westfall, Butters, Houston drainages) and in the Purcells it drains the west side of the Conrad Group, Crystalline Group, International Group, and Silent Pass.

Almost all mountaineering access into the Battle Range these days is heli, but the potential has always been there for ground access. For the headwaters area, hiking down from Silent Pass has been an option and was utilized by groups exploring the area south of Rogers Pass in the past, but further south, the foot access in almost insurmountable without the roads. As well, the roads allow for potential traverses of the Purcells through the areas mentioned above.

Three bridges up the Westfall River were pulled this summer, which provided theoretically easy access to the Westfall Group. Sometime in late spring or summer of 2016, the plan is to pull all of the bridges and most stream crossings on the Duncan mainline from Westfall River up to Butters Creek.

The Duncan road has deteriorated over time. There was a big washout at the 67km a few years back when I went to check it out, and was probably growing in above that. However, in order for the bridges at the top end to be pulled, the road has now been brushed and graded. A friend of mine drove to around the 103km last week and showed me photos and said it would be no problem to get a Subaru Outback to that point. Beyond, it hadn't been brushed, but looked like you could force a vehicle through without too much trouble. I'm going to put up a road bulletin once I finish digging for extra info.

I spoke to Ken Haynes, the person in the forestry district who the website says is the roads contact. He told me that the plan to deactivate is open to public pressure (you can see protest signs in the area around Argenta) and that the district manager is the person to contact. I don't have contact info or a name for that person, but calling the forestry office in Nelson is probably the best place to start. (250) 825-1100. Ken also told me that the plan is subject to budget stuff, and fisheries stuff. He told me to check back in June for an update.

So if you've ever thought of trying to include the Duncan road in a trip, this is the best access it's had in years and there's a good chance it'll be over by the end of next summer.


#1818 - 2015.11.13 Dean Richards - Ask for a few bridges to be left in?
It occurs to me that it might be possible to ask the Ministry to leave a few strategic bridges on the upper Duncan River, Butters Creek, or Houston Creek. This would allow increased potential for accessing the Battle Range on foot from the Purcells (via Silent Pass for example). The bridges would be cut off from vehicles by bridges and culverts being removed lower down, so motorized access would remain impossible.

Does anyone know if there's a precedent for this? Does it seem like something worth pursuing? I've mentioned it to the Kootenay Mountaineering Club executive as well.