Trip Date: October 8, 2011
Participants: Marion Carpent, Natasha Suvorova, George Malburg, Brittany Zenger, Ed Zenger, Geoffrey Zenger
Difficulty: 2. Steep bush descending down the north east ridge of Harvey.
Elevation Gain: ~1800m
Report: After this year’s short hiking season in August and September, early October brought cool and grey weather, but the forecast for this Saturday was for clear skies until early in the afternoon. I had previously climbed Brunswick the previous fall with Jeff Ross and James Clarke, and had previously ascended Harvey in winter via its North Face Ramp, but had never previously ascended Harvey in summer conditions, and so a trip to climb both Mt. Harvey and Mt. Brunswick in a day was hastily arranged. We chose to climb Harvey first and Brunswick second for two reasons: first, we weren’t sure how difficult the Harvey NE ridge would be and wanted to encounter it early in the day, and second, the trail down from Brunswick is more pleasant than the hike down from Harvey.
We met at the Lions Bay trailhead at around 8:15, and set off on the trail a bit past 8:30 under cloudy skies. Although Brittany wasn’t feel great, the trip up the Harvey trail to Harvey’s SW ridge was fairly quick and uneventful, and we reached the ridge just as the skies were clearing up just past 10:30, and stopped for a snack and to enjoy the sunny heat. The SW ridge is a straightforward hike with a few short sections of class 2 scrambling, although I was surprised to find that the ridge was substantially more complex than was apparent when we descended it the previous winter. We summitted Harvey at about 11:45, had a short break, and set out to find the route down the NE ridge into Magnesia Meadows.
In winter conditions, the NE ridge was much steeper than we had expected, with a few sections of 60 degree snow and ice to be negotiated, and it was interesting to descend the same ridge in summer (although damp) conditions. The trail was fairly rough but easy to follow, and without any serious difficulties. I wouldn’t recommend that anybody downclimb the NE ridge without having any prior experience downclimbing steep roots and short rock steps using vegetable belays as there are a few sections with exposure, but most coastal hikers/scramblers would be comfortable downclimbing the route. As with all routes, it would probably be somewhat easier to climb than to downclimb.
We quickly made it down to the base of Harvey’s NE ridge, hit the Howe Sound Crest Trail soon thereafter, and stopped at the Magnesia Meadows emergency shelter for a proper lunch break. After a lengthy break, we followed the HSCT over to its junction with the Brunswick trail, reaching the intersection at about 2:15. From here it was just the regular route to the summit of Brunswick, which we reached at about 10 to 3. By this point, the weather forecasted had moved in, and with the fog and cold wind, it felt like we were getting our first tastes of the upcoming winter. Nobody wanted to stop for too long, and we soon made our way back down to Lion’s bay. I reached the base with Brittany at around 4:40 (some jogging involved), and the last of us was down at the cars by 5:30. In all, an excellent autumn workout for all with lots of varied terrain and eminently suitable for days with questionable forecasts.
Verdict: 3/3. An excellent late season hike/scramble. You will find me repeating this route in many autumn’s to come.