The Southern Selkirks are squeezed between the Purcell Mountains (blue) to the east and the Monashee Mountains to the west. Southward, the Selkirks diminish as they extend into Idaho. Chimney Rock, above Priest Lake, is the southern limit of "the goods".
Separating the Selkirk Mountains from the Purcell Mountains is the deep valley of the Beaver and Duncan Rivers. There is no paved highway between the Selkirks and Purcells. The boundary is hidden in wilderness, often misunderstood, and only of academic interest.
On political maps, The name Kootenays refers to three well defined regional districts of BC. The Canadian Alpine Journal will sometimes have a climb or two listed under Kootenays, as if they were different range of mountains.
There is no such mountain range, except in the minds of the residents of southeastern BC. The Canadian Alpine Journal does not dismiss this perspective. For over a century, the southern peaks of the Monashees, Selkirks, Purcells, and Canadian Rockies have been called the Kootenay Mountains by locals.
The Selkirk Mountains at Rogers Pass are the oldest climbing area in North America. Earlier climbs where made by scientists, surveyors, and "rugged individualists". They certainly bagged some great peaks like Mount Rainier in 1870. But these early climbs were one time affairs or part of the job (Jones, Climbing in North America, 1976).
The first technical climb, using rope and done for sport, was in 1888. Skilled alpinists from Europe made the ascent of Mount Bonney (10,194'). First, Rev. Henry Swanzy rode a horse along the unfinished railroad to cross Rogers Pass and suss out the climbing. Then, he went back to the Alps to find partners (Chris Jones again).
Mt Sir Donald was nabbed just two years later by Swiss guides with more advanced rope-work. Other people who climbed regularly for sport soon followed, eager for new terrain as the Golden Age of the Alps ended. They called this place the "Canadian Alps". (Chris Jones, Climbing in North America, 1976).
SELKIRK CLIMBING GUIDEBOOKS
One hundred years ago there were already several guide books to climbing in the Selkirk Range. Today, Selkirks North and Selkirks South, by Dave Jones, both printed in 2001.
William Putnam's 1971, 5th edition, AAC Guide to the Interior ranges of British Columbia is still useful because he comprehensively covers over seventy years of climbing, even including the Valhalla Mountains (out of print).
For ski mountaineers, and climbers seeking to better educate themselves, there is an important book by Chic Scott: Summits and Icefields . His book covers all levels, from basic information for roadside tele-glades up to advanced details for the great ski traverses of each range. Good beta for most huts and some big peaks too.
For rock climbers, the West Kootenay Rock Guide, by Aaron Kristiansen & Vince Hempsall covers all the low altitude crags from the Valhallas south to the border. Kootenay climbing beta is also availiable at climbing.inthekoots.com
Browse More Classics in Selkirk Mountains
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Selkirk Mountains:
Featured Route For Selkirk Mountains
South Ridge 5.8 International : Canada : ... : Mount Gimli
HISTORY In 1974, a Kamloops expedition choppered in with three children, a sitter, and enough friends to climb everything worth climbing. This route was attempted, and all the members listed above did the first two pitches before weather forced a retreat. That september Peter Rowat and Peter Koedt returned to finish the ridge. I hear Southeast Ridge getting the most name usage, but the reported name was South Face in the Canadian Alpine Journal (1974). Peter Rowat and Co made the fir...[more] Browse More Classics in International