Trip Date: March 24, 2012
Participants: Brittany Zenger, Alex Le, Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger
Report: Obligations to friends and family kept me in town Friday and Sunday, which left us with a wonderful Saturday to make the most of. Although we had been planning to go to Mt. Frosty (as I did on the last weekend of March last year) we made a late change of plans Friday evening after realizing that over 50cm of new snow was reported to have fallen in the Manning Park area. Keeping things simple, we decided to head up to the Diamond Head area and just go as far as we felt like.
A reasonably early start got us up in Ed’s X-Trail to the Diamond Head parking lot at around 9am, and we were out on the trail at about 9:20, and with firm yet non-icy snow on the road, we made quick work up past the Red Heather Shelter to Paul Ridge on a well beaten track. It was an absolutely blue bird day with not a cloud in the sky and I couldn’t help but be slightly envious of Jeff, Petr, and my other friends who were ahead of us doing a neve traverse. Nonetheless, we had fantastic views in all directions on our way along Paul Ridge, ranging from Atwell and Pyramid to the north, the Mamquam massif to the east, and Alpen and the Sky Pilot group to our south.
Three of us reached the Elfin Lakes hut at around 12:30 (somehow my dad managed to beat us there by 30 minutes even though he was with us as we came around Round mountain…), and after eating all of my meagre supply of food (much of my lunch was left in the car) and sharing my skin wax with the grateful throng at the hut, we set out for the saddle between Columnar and the Gargoyles a bit before 1. Within minutes of leaving the hut, the ski tracks ended, and we had to begin breaking trail. Although the temperature was hovering around 0, the intense solar radiation was melting the snow, leaving it heavy and a real slog to break trail through. Alex and I alternated breaking trail, which served to exhaust both of us, and we were all grateful when three locals caught up with us and broke trail for the last leg up to the saddle and from there onto the main peak of the Gargoyles, which we reached some time around 2:40. After a short break, we descended wonderfully consistent slush and corn down to the low point below the Elfin hut, and began our skin back up Paul Ridge.
The return skin was uneventful, even with a brief detour over the sub-summits/bumps of Round mountain, but a severe lack of calories consumed left me completely exhausted by the time we came around Round mountain and were able to take off our skins for the ski down. Luckily, Britt had half of a mushed up former sandwich in her pack that served to fuel me just enough to make it down to the car. The road was surprisingly soft for the evening and we made a quick run down the road, reaching the car in the vicinity of 5:45pm.
In all, it was an amazing day trip with perfect weather, great views, and just enough distance and vertical to leave everybody satisfied with their accomplishments.
(Photos by Alex Le)