Mt. Elsay & Runner Peak

Trip Date: October 6, 2012

Participants: Alice Hwang, Leif, Dave Percival, Chloe Tergiman, Lida Vavrova, Bob Woodhouse, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2 (Elsay), 3 (Runner Peak)

Report: Time and time again I’ve gone to the top of Mt. Seymour and gazed over at Mt. Elsay, and at long last, I got around to putting a trip to Mt. Elsay on the BCMC schedule.  We met in the Seymour parking lot just before 8:30 with the objective of reaching Mt. Elsay via the trail that descends to the west from the col between the second and third peaks of Seymour.  Despite being early October, the sun was already shining bright and the air quite warm by this time in the morning.

We made excellent time up the Mt. Seymour trail, taking a small detour to scramble directly up the face to Pump Peak, and reached the col between the second and third peaks of Seymour just before 10 o’clock.  From here, a flagged route descends to the west and contours around the third peak of Seymour, eventually descending to a basin below Runner peak, and from there rising once again towards Mt. Elsay (albeit with plenty of up and down).  The trail is generally in great shape, although in a few places it’s easy to accidentally wander off the route on old game paths, as a few of us did on a couple occasions.  I had initially thought that it would take us a good 4 hours to reach Mt. Elsay, but we were on the summit at 11:45, just three and a quarter hours from when we started.  With the clear autumn air, the views from the summit were fantastic.  Peaks as far away as Shuksan, Cheam, Slesse, Sky Pilot, Mamquam, and Robie Reid were all clear in the distance, and of course all of the north shore mountains were visible too much closer by.

We departed the summit around 12:30 and were back in the basin below Runner Peak a bit before 1:30.  Although not an official objective of the trip, with the day so young, most of us decided to make a detour and climb Runner Peak as well (two party members headed straight back to the cars in order to be back in town by mid-afternoon).

Some wishful thinking and questionable routefinding decisions led us to try to short-cut the need to climb to the Seymour-Runner col before ascending Runner Peak, and we began by climbing a steep bushy gully, only to find that it petered out near the top.  Everyone except Bob decided to descend back down to the rocks and snow below, and to head up to the standard route via the Seymour-Runner col.  Bob, however, decided to forge his own traverse route around Runner Peak on a series of vegetated ledges, apparently also with a fair bit of 4th/low-5th climbing needed to move between them.

Someone has flagged the route up Runner Peak from the Seymour-Runner col, and is it easy to follow.  There is a short 3rd class section about half way up from the col, with little exposure.  It was a little awkward to descend, but is unlikely to daunt anybody willing to make the trek all the way over there from Seymour.  Above the 3rd class section there are only another few minutes of scrambling / hiking needed to reach the summit.  We summited Runner at 2:30, and once again sat down to enjoy the magnificent views (and also confuse the group of people on top of Seymour, who it seemed couldn’t figure out how we had gotten over to Runner Peak).

We left the summit of Runner Peak at about 3 o’clock, and made our way down to the low basin below the peak to regain the Mt. Elsay trail.  The hardest part of the day was making it back up from here to the Mt. Seymour trail.  The trail is steep, and we had already been hiking a long time.  Nonetheless, everyone made it up with their spirits still intact, and once on the Mt. Seymour trail it was quick going down to the cars, which we reached just before 5:30.  In the end, my B2 trip turned into a C3, but it was a great trip nonetheless.  We had perfect conditions, interesting objectives, and a great group of people.

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