July 2013

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Trip Date: July 23, 2013

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3 (easy scrambling, mild exposure, very steep in places)

Report: Two years ago Brittany and I made an attempt on the Judge’s route up Mt. Arrowsmith on Vancouver Island but were turned around by bad weather just above treeline, and so we decided to make another attempt on the peak on our way back from Hornby Island this year.  We caught an early ferry off the island and headed to the trailhead, which is still no problem reaching in our 2wd car, and started off on the trail around 10:30 am.

The trail is easy to follow, but becomes steep and dirty near treeline.  Once above treeline, mixed in with steep gravel and dirt, there is some rock scrambling involved, although never above an easy 3rd class with only mild exposure simply due to the continuous steepness of the slope.  Nearer the summit the trail briefly becomes a bit nicer again, and we reached the summit in amazing weather at about 12:45 pm, only 2 hours and 15 minutes from when we left the car.  From the summit, there are fantastic views of Tantalus, the southern reaches of Strathcona Park, Hornby and Denman islands, many other peaks such as Garibaldi and Mamquam in the distance, and the large yellow haze that is Vancouver.

The descent took us slightly longer than the ascent due to wanting to travel carefully down the loose trail, but we made it down in time to grab some fish & chips at Bare Bones in Port Alberni before making our way back to Nanaimo to come home.  In all, this is a quick and easy route up a prominent peak with great views that can be done in 4-5 hours car-to-car.  However, I won’t be headed back any time soon… the trail itself is just too unpleasant due to its looseness, steepness, and lack of views until near the summit, to make me want to repeat it again for a long time.

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Trip Date: July 6, 2013

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 4 (possibly 3 if we stayed on route)

Report: Feeling like a longer route, Brittany and I headed across the US border and down to the Twin Sisters trailhead late Friday evening to car camp and get an early start on the Saturday.  We woke up reasonably early and set off on our bikes a bit past 7 the following morning.  We took our time heading up, but managed to make it to the end of the North Twin Sister spur of the logging road before it got too hot, and after a quick snack, headed up to the ridge.

The west ridge of the North Twin Sister is very impressive from below as it rises continuously for almost 500m vertical.  Low down the ridge is straightforward on fantastic rock, not exceeding a moderate 3rd class and we had no trouble making it up to the “drop-off crag” labelled in Beckey’s topo.  However, from here, we went off route.  Rather than quickly regaining the ridge crest just past the free standing obelisk (as is recommended in Gunn’s book and implied in Beckey’s book), we followed a long series of cairns out onto the south face of the peak, far below the ridge crest we were supposed to be following.  We wasted a lot of time here heading back and forth trying to look for better routes through the ledges and wondering whether we should continue, but continue we did, always finding more little cairns ahead of us.  Eventually the cairns lead to the headwall due south of the false summit, and well, there’s nowhere to go but up (this is roughly where a ‘steep rock rib’ is labelled in Beckey’s topo).

With no real alternative, Brittany and I scrambled up a couple hundred metres of solid 4th class terrain on less than stellar rock, eventually reaching the ridge crest just below the overhang at the false summit.  From here we could see the easy route as recommended in Gunn’s book (and by another party we met up there), but that meant traversing and descending a short bit, and in our tired state, we chose to go straight up and over the false summit.  This is described as “steep 4th class” in Beckey’s book, but other than two somewhat awkward bulges to surmount wasn’t too bad.  Finally on the false summit, we made our way across to the true summit, finally reaching it a bit past 3pm, a full 7 hours from when we started.

The views were great, but we could see a nasty cloud about to move in and didn’t wait long before scrambling down onto the snow slopes on the north face, which we followed down and around the mountain, eventually regaining the west ridge just 20 minutes above where we left our bikes earlier in the day.  The north face is steep at the top (approximately 45 degrees), and so an ice axe is essential, but it eases off fairly quickly.  It was at this point that the true value of the bikes became clear.  Rather than slogging down mile after mile of logging road, there is almost no pedalling at all required to make it down the road on a mountain bike and in just over half an hour we were back at our car.  Total round trip time was approximately 11 hours, which would probably have been ~1 hour shorter had we been smarter with our routefinding.

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Trip Date: July 13-14, 2013

Participants: Thomas Bissig, Ed Fischer, Helen Habgood, Darrell Harrington, David Overall, Ilze Rupners, Pavel Sorokin, Christina Williams, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger (organizer and reporter)

Difficulty: 2 (some scrambling, much bushwhacking)

Report: I’ve stared at Mt. Sedgwick from highway 99 countless times over pretty much my entire life, but I never took advantage of the easy access to Woodfibre prior to the closure of the mill and ferry in early 2006.  Access today involves obtaining permission to dock at Woodfibre from its owners as well as arranging for a water taxi to take you over and pick you up, which can be costly.  Luckily for me, there are many others in the same situation and I was able to round up a group of 10 BCMC and ACC members to split the cost of the water taxi and head over for a long two days to the now rarely visited peak.

We began by catching a water taxi from Squamish at 9am on the Saturday that got us over to Woodfibre where we were met by one of the on-site weekend staff members (the site is still used for electricity generation) who took our contact info, showed us which road to start walking up, and sent us on our way.  The road behind the town switchbacks up steeply for just over 3km (ignore all new logging spurs) to a water intake facility, where the correct route takes the right hand branch just prior to the facility.  From here, it continues up Woodfibre creek for another 3km or so before reaching a footbridge over the creek and the start of the trail up to Henriette Lake.  Note that while the bridge is somewhat damaged it is still easy to cross and the creek is small enough anyways that it would be easy to cross without a bridge.

Across the bridge, the trail up to Henriette Lake is pleasant and in very good condition and we were up at the lake at noon, just 2.5 hours from when we started.  The hut is still in decent condition, albeit mouse infested.  The helipad at the lake made a great platform to relax and eat lunch before we headed off to see if the trail up to the ridge above Sylvia Lake was still in passable condition (which was considered perhaps the biggest unknown of the trip a priori).  Well… the trail is still followable (just continue on the obvious path past the helipad), and still well marked (some flagging, many markers on trees), but is badly overgrown in many places leading up to the ridge (my guess is that in another 5 years it will be getting hard to follow in places).  Nonetheless, everyone whacked through the bush in good spirits and we made our way up to the point on the ridge directly above Sylvia Lake.

In exchange for permission to dock at Woodfibre, we had agreed to help out the owners by taking photos of the outlet of Sylvia Lake, and Thomas, Ed, and myself went down to find the outlet.  Going down to the lake took only a few minutes, but it didn’t take long heading around the lake to find a small cliff blocking our progress around the lake.  Stubbornly refusing to walk back the way we went down and take the easy way around the cliff, Thomas led us straight up through the bush.  60 degree bush, occasionally wet, this was most definitely the crux of the trip for us, our struggles completely unbeknownst to the rest of our party who were sunbathing and waiting back on the ridge.  From here it was straightforward down to the outlet of the lake where photos were taken and we hustled back to meet everyone else and continue our way towards Mt. Roderick.

The ridge has some substantial up and down as it contours around Woodfibre Lake, but the footbed was well defined and the trail easy to follow at least 90% of the time.  The ridge is open enough that whenever we lost the trail it was always quickly stumbled upon again, and just as we started to tire we found ourselves at a beautiful camping spot on the ridge, approximately 1km SW of the summit of Mt. Roderick, a bit over 13km from where we started hiking.  The weather and views were incredible all evening, and a great time relaxing was had by all.

The next morning we woke up at 5am, with the goal of getting moving by 6.  The route from here to the summit of Mt. Sedgwick was straightforward, but long (still over 5km to go), and not always quick (some lower parts bushy, some higher parts bouldery), but everyone was on the summit of Mt. Sedgwick by 9:45.  Success at last!

On the summit we enjoyed great views of the Tantalus range to the north, of the Sky Pilot area to the east, and the rarely visited areas around Phantom Mountain and Tzoonie Mountain to the west.  Of course, we also filled our names into the summit register, and brought down an old summit register (including humourous complaints about awful weather dating back to the 1940s) to be donated to the BCMC or ACC archives.  Shortly after 10 we departed, knowing that we still had over 18km of walking ahead of us to make it back to Woodfibre.

We were back in camp before 1, and on the trail again with our packs fully loaded shortly after 1:30.  From here the going was easy as we knew the route from before and made it down to Henriette Lake at about 4 o’clock for a much needed break.  Some of us rested on the helipad, others swam in the lake, and others explored the cabin, but half an hour later it was time to make a call to the water taxi (there is cell reception near the dam) to arrange to be picked up, and we started on our way down.  The road was agony, the worst part of the trip, but it eventually ended, and everyone was down and waiting by the dock by the time the boat came to pick us up at 7:00.  Sitting in the water taxi and gazing back at Mt. Sedgwick as we headed back to Squamish I was exhausted, but filled with the satisfaction of having conquered the peak at last with a fantastic group of people.  Thank you everyone for the great weekend!

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Trip Date: July 1, 2013

Participants: Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1/2

Report: After returning back to the Duffey Lake Road Sunday evening so that Mr. Le could make it back home that evening to work on the holiday Monday, the rest of us headed into Lillooet for dinner and to look through our maps and guidebooks to find somewhere we could go for a short trip on Monday and still get us back in town with time to run a bunch of errands.  We decided to head up towards Blowdown Pass and hopefully make it up Gott Peak.  Given that the road heads up a north facing valley (snow?) and didn’t know the road conditions, we weren’t sure whether we’d be able to drive anywhere near the pass, but we started up the road around 7:30 just to see how far we’d get.

The road towards Blowdown pass is in good shape for the first 10km (where we could see some trucks had parked, a few waterbars just before the parking pullout), but then becomes much rougher.  We had no problems until around the 11.4km mark, where there was a nasty little section of road: a small creek crossing followed by a steep, rutted out few metres that despite two attempts, we weren’t able to bounce up.  We didn’t know what followed and so backtracked about 100m down the road to a very pleasant pullout for camping.  The next day we would learn that once past this nasty section, the road is in decent condition for another few km, and so anyone who does make it past this would have been able to drive to within about 50m below the pass, where the road became snow covered.

We woke up on the Monday at 5:30, and took our time to pack up camp and eat breakfast, and set off on foot up the road towards Blowdown Pass around 6:45, making it to Blowdown pass at about 7:45 where we stopped to enjoy the incredible morning views and eat a more substantial meal.  From here, it was about 10 minutes of walking up easy snow before the ridge became snow free, and from thereon it was easy pleasant walking over the broad heather covered slopes to Gott’s false summit, which we reached at about 8:45.  Once again we stopped to take in the incredible views and then rambled for another 20 minutes along the ridge over to Gott’s true summit (reaching it at about 9:20), from which the mid-morning views were incredible.  Gott Peak is the tallest mountain for quite a distance and so the views were fantastic over to Matier and Joffre, Silent Hub, Skihist, Stein, and so on.

Rather than head back down to Blowdown Pass and down the road, we decided to head straight down the meadows below the peak to hit the road right above where it splits to go to the lake, and this proved to be no problem.  The meadows were lush with blooming flowers from top to bottom, and we were quickly down on the road and back to the car.  Total round trip time was around 5 hours moving at a very relaxed pace.  I will definitely be back someday to explore the ridges on the other side of the pass, and to hopefully make the traverse over from Gotcha to Notgott peak.  Recommended for an easy day in beautiful country.

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Trip Date: June 29-30, 2013

Participants: Alex Le, Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2 (Statimcets), 3 (Linus)

Report: After the trip to Mt. Sedgwick that I had been planning on going on fell apart late in the week, I hastily arranged to put together a “mellow” but enjoyable trip for the Canada Day long weekend.  Alex had to be back in town to work on the Monday, so the plan was made to head into Downton Creek for the Saturday and Sunday, and then the rest of us would find somewhere else to wander about on the Monday (when we ended up climbing Gott Peak).

Knowing that access should be quick into the Downton Creek drainage, we met up at the Mt. Currie Coffee Company in Pemberton at 10 o’clock, had breakfast, and headed out towards Lillooet on the Duffey Lake Road.  The forecast was for increasing temperatures over the weekend, and some predicted that the Lillooet / Lytton area would record the highest temperatures ever recorded in Canada by the Tuesday, but on Saturday morning the temperatures were still very reasonable.  We reached the Downton Creek turnoff at around 11:30, and everyone piled into my Jeep for the ride up to the Holly Lake trailhead.  Some reports indicate that the road in is 2wd, and that is generally true.  The roadbed itself (dirt and gravel) is in very good condition, but there are a couple places where having an extra inch or two of clearance makes the going a bit easier.  Nonetheless, a standard 2wd should be able to make it to the trailhead with a bit of patience.

We got everything sorted out at the trailhead and departed on the Holly Lake trail at about 12:30.  The trail is in fantastic condition and whoever is maintaining it has earned himself big kudos.  We reached Holly Lake after a bit less than an hour of hiking, and as nobody else was around, we considered setting up camp there, but decided instead to head up to the Alpine.  This was a great decision on our part because that night a stag party set up at Holly Lake (including a keg brought in by helicopter!) and the following day a few more parties came in to set up camp at the lake.  Up in the alpine, however, below Schroeder and Linus peaks there is a huge plateau at around 2100m with a couple small tarns on it, great views all around, and many good tent spots.  Also, being in the rain shadow, this area was snow free even though it was only the end of June.  Up there we were alone all weekend.  Total hiking time to this plateau (with overnight packs) was well under 2 hours.

After setting up camp and taking some quick naps, we decided at around 4:15 to head up Statimcets Peak (Downton Creek 8700 in Gunn’s Scrambles book).  We traversed around Faulty Tower and headed up a moderate snowslope to the South Ridge of Statimcets which we followed to the summit, reaching the summit a bit past 5:30.  With the long days and warm weather, there were fantastic views all around.  After lounging about for a while, we took the East Ridge down easy snow and scree (the route indicated in Gunn’s book) and were back in camp by 7 o’clock to cook dinner and enjoy the long daylight.

On the Sunday, we got up around 7 just as the temperature in our tent was approaching the level of “sauna”.  We set off after breakfast to head up the ridge to Linus peak, ascending moderately steep snow (35-40 degrees) to the low point on the ridge between Schroeder and Linus peaks, and turning onto the ridge to ascend Linus.  The ridge is quite loose and exposed in places, but largely class 2, with a handful of class 3 sections, such as an au cheval not far along (avoidable on an exposed ledge on the right, it’s easier to just go over it).  This was Mr. Le’s first scrambling experience and from this I learned that the ridge is quite scary and exposed for beginners.  Nonetheless, we all made it to the summit in one piece and enjoyed the crisp morning views.  Total ascent time from camp was approximately 2 hours.  A group vote was taken, and rather than continue on the ridge to Statimcets (my vote), we reversed our route back down, returning to our camp in the early afternoon, and from there, down to our vehicle (just over an hour total descent time), and a nice drive out to Lillooet for a meal at the main hotel.

The Downton Creek area is a fantastic basin for scrambling.  We only climbed two peaks, but I’d love to head back in a couple years with a quick party to do the full Soprano to Statimcets traverse.  It is definitely one of the easiest alpine areas to access in SW BC, and at present, almost nobody ventures above Holly Lake!  Highly recommended.

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