Trip Date: Jan 27, 2013
Participants: Lisa Quattrocchi, Dave Scanlon, Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger
Report: The provincial government granted the BCMC (BC Mountaineering Club) a tenure to construct a hut at Watersprite Lake 3-4 years ago, but no hut has been constructed yet. There are numerous reasons for this, including that much energy towards hut construction has been focussed lately on the Spearhead Huts project, that it requires a lot of volunteer time and energy to build a hut, and also that the Watersprite Lake area simply isn’t familiar to most outdoors enthusiasts in south west BC. It is this last point that Dave is trying to remedy by leading numerous trips this winter into the area.
We began our day by meeting at St. David’s just before 6:30, from where we headed up towards Squamish, where we turned onto the Mamquam FSR just past the apron parking lot and headed up the nicely plowed road up to the construction site for the Skookum Power Project. Until construction is finished, it is important to call ahead to the power project to let them know that you’re coming, and when you arrive, somebody will come down, sign you in, and escort you from the security checkpoint up to the top of the construction area (~3-4km distance), where you can park and start up the road system towards Watersprite Lake (note: 4×4 required to negotiate mud through the construction site).
We departed the cars at 8:30, and made our way up the road system. Not far from the cars we encountered snowshoe tracks from a party that had headed up the lake a day or two before us, and these greatly eased the need to break trail for much of the ascent. To get to the lake, you head straight up the road until reaching a flagged branch road to the left (30-40 mins from car), which is followed north as it contours around a ridge. Once in the valley and above some obvious meadows on the flat bottom, you descend from the road to the meadows, and follow along the north side of the creek on the meadow bottom until reaching the slope at the east end of the area. From here, instead of ascending up the steep creek bed directly to Watersprite Lake, ascend the obvious lightly-treed avalanche path just to the south (right) of the forest that the creek ascends through, and then traverse through open terrain above the trees back towards the creek. The proposed hut location is right where you first hit the lake, near its outflow into the creek. In all, including breaks it took us 3.5 hours to the lake.
At the lake we stopped for lunch, and then, as we had informed the crew at the power project that we wouldn’t be back at the cars until 4:30, we crossed the lake and ascended up to the next basin (to the left of the impressive Watersprite Tower) in order to get in some more exploration and some more skiing. The lighting was a bit flat, which made for difficult skiing near our turnaround point, but we shortly encountered better visibility and had fantastic powder for our ski back down past the lake to the meadows below. Interestingly, although the slopes didn’t show any signs of instability on our ski down, as soon as I crossed the creek down at the meadow, the snow bank on the opposite shore (perhaps 3m high) slid down into the creek on a weak layer about 30cm down all as one consolidated slab.
From reaching the meadows, it was quick and uneventful to cross them, make the short ascent back to the road, and then contour back around the ridge to the main road, which is sufficiently steep to make for a fun descent. In all, I was impressed by the area and think it would make a great location for a hut. It is close to Vancouver, easily accessible, and with no fewer than 6 peaks to climb as short day trips from the lake, there is plenty of terrain that could be easily enjoyed in winter or summer. Thank you Dave for taking us up there!