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Date: Aug 23/24, 2014

Participants: David Carne, Michelle Lappan, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3

Report: Opal Lake has long had my attention as a weekend destination due to the fact that the peaks on either side of it are both listed as 3 star scrambles in Matt Gunn’s guide.  With only a few weeks left in summer proper, we decided to have a go at it.  Setting out at a relaxed pace from the Whistler cabin Saturday morning, we had a breakfast at Mt. Currie coffee in Pemberton and headed up the Hurley and over Railroad Pass to the Hope Creek FSR.  The road is in great shape until about 11.2 km, where we had to park due to severe deactivation.  No worries, even if we had gone through the first big ditch, there are many more and we were glad to have parked where we did.  Regardless, the end of the road is only about a 50 minute walk from this point.

Immediately after starting up the road we encountered what we very obviously grizzly prints.  Huge!  We’d see many more prints over the weekend but luckily, no bear.  The road went by quick, and we were pleased to find a flagged footbed through the forest at the end of the road all the way to the crossing of the creek coming down from Tenquille Glacier.  The creek crossing was easy at mid day (more on this later), and although we couldn’t find any path on the other side of the creek, the going was easy through fairly mature forest and a bit of bush, and we quickly wound up at Opal Lake.  Total time from end of road: 90 minutes.  The lake was much nicer than I expected!  This was probably because I had read a trip report that called it a “scum pond” (it’s not), but also because it’s situated in a beautiful alpine pass.  At first we were worried about water, but it turns out that about 50m east of the lake there’s a great little stream with clean running water.  Once at the pass, we set up our tents and prepared to set off for Chipmunk Mountain.

We followed Gunn’s suggested route up the “steep heather” to a gentle plateau leading to Chipmunk, and indeed the heather slope is really steep.  That said, as we found on the descent, all other slopes are steep too and it probably is the best route.  We moved steadily at a moderate pace and in seemingly no time made it up to the summit of Chipmunk.  There was some fun scrambling found near the summit that we elected to take to avoid the loose rock in the gully bottom, but either way the summit is easy to attain.  The ascent took only 1.5 hours from camp, and after a nice break on the summit to eat a snack and gaze over at the Tenquille area to the south, Locomotive & Sampson areas to the west, and Beaujolais and Sockeye Horn (known as Mystery Peak in Gunn’s book) to the east, we made our way back down to camp to enjoy a good meal before darkness fell.

It clouded over in the evening and according to David it rained overnight, but luckily by the time we arose in the morning, the skies were beginning to clear and after a slow morning at camp, we headed up the North Ridge of Tenquille Mountain.  At this time of year, the talus field below the ridge is really loose and not fun to ascend, but once on the ridge proper, the route is really, really nice.  Although at times it looks like the route is going to get really hard, Gunn’s description is easy to follow and all difficulties are easily avoided.  We were a bit slower ascending Tenquille than Chipmunk, but it still took only a little over 2 hours from the lake to make the summit.  Once on top, we had a bit of disagreement over whether to continue on to Goat Mountain or not, but with a bit of arm twisting, David was convinced to join me, and the two of us headed for a quick jaunt to Goat while Brittany and Michelle lounged about and waited in the warm sun on the summit of Tenquille.

Although it looks tricky from the summit of Tenquille, it turned out to be easy to make it over to Goat Mountain, essentially just sticking to the good rock at the left hand side of the obvious cliff bands (and just right of the main gully heading up the face).  Near the top there’s a bit of fun scrambling on good rock, and 50 minutes after leaving the top of Tenquille we stood on the summit of Goat and filled out the summit register (apparently Goat is the only mountain in the region with a register).  From the summit of Goat there are great views of Tenquille Lake itself (not visible from the top of Tenquille Mountain), but we didn’t want to keep our better halves waiting long, and after only a few minutes on top made our way back to Tenquille Mountain.  Although it occasionally threatened to rain at times during the day, it never did and most of the time we had good weather.

The descent back to camp was quick, and after a brief stop over to pack up, we departed camp just past 4pm.  The creek crossing was quite a bit more exciting on the way back due to the increased water flow after the overnight rain and it being later in the day, but we managed to find a reasonable crossing point not far upstream from where we had crossed the previous day.  From there on it was straightforward through the forest and down the road, and we reached the jeep at 6 o’clock sharp.  In all, it was another great weekend.  Thanks to everyone for the great trip, and hopefully there are still a few good weekends left this year!

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Date: Aug 1-2, 2014

Participants: Fatemeh Riahi, Ali Kamali, Devin Erickson, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report: Brittany has been asking to go into Tenquille Lake and do a few of the nearby hikes / scrambles for a few years now, but until last week the time and opportunity had never arisen.  Luckily, we’ve spent the last couple weeks on vacation, and what better way to spend the last couple days of it than taking some friends out for their first ever backpacking experience at a beautiful lake and with a perfect weather forecast.

We met up at Mt. Currie coffee Friday morning at 9 o’clock, and drove off towards Birken where we took the Tenquille-Birkenhead FSR to access the area from the east.  Most of the road is in very good shape (probably want a 4×4 all the way from where you leave the Pemberton Portage road), although the last 5km or so has been deactivated and requires a high clearance 4×4.  We departed from the trailhead at about a quarter to 11, and arrived at the cabin at the west end of the lake almost exactly two hours later.  Luckily we were the first to arrive at the lake for the long weekend and had our choice of camping location.  We set up camp perhaps 200 feet from the cabin in a large open area, and sat down in the cabin to enjoy a good lunch.  The lake itself is beautiful and the view to the west is dominated by Sun God (which we ascended a few years ago, it’s easy from this angle to see how the peak got its name).

On our way we were passed by a large party of 18 mountain bikers, all on 2015 Giant Reign’s (disclaimer: I own a 2014 Giant Reign).  Apparently the group was press junket of sorts, a mix of bike company employees and journalists flown in to review the new bikes in a beautiful environment.  They had been dropped off at the head of Barbour’s valley and were making their way by Tenquille Lake in order to descend the trail down to the Pemberton Valley.  It’d be a wonderful place to bike, although I couldn’t help but notice that it would be better to bike there later in the season when it was a bit drier… some of the muddier areas near the lake looked like a war zone after all the bikes had pass through.

After a hearty lunch and setting up camp, we headed up to Copper Mound.  We misread the directions in Gunn’s book and thought that there would be a trail heading up to Fossil Pass from Tenquille Pass, but after hiking up to Tenquille Pass and descending a fair ways down the other side, we realized that that was not the case, and made our way up the open slopes to Fossil Pass and from there up the easy scree and talus fields to the summit of Copper Mound.  The views from the summit were excellent!  There were a couple of paragliders flying overhead, the Pemberton Valley long below on one side, and views of Goat, Tenquille, the Sampson area, Currie, Ipsoot, Rhododendron, and the peaks at the northern end of the Pemberton Icefield.  While the rest of our party wanted to lounge about on top, I wanted to bag another peak, and set off for a quick ascent of Mt. McLeod.  I moved quick and made it summit to summit in 45 minutes, took a few quick pictures, and scurried back to Fossil Pass where I arrived just a few minutes before everyone else.  From here it was an easy descent back down to the lake where we hung out and had a great dinner.  Devin tried out the plastic kayak under the cabin while dinner was being cooked, and while it made for great photos, the kayak turned out to have holes in its bottom and he ended up unexpectedly wet and joined us back in the cabin much sooner than we expected.

On the Saturday we had a slow morning eating breakfast, packing up our tents, and talking to some of the people who had arrived in the area the previous evening.  We set off with all our gear again at about a quarter to 11, and dropped all of our bags except for two small day bags just past the turn off to Barbour’s valley.  The trail up into the valley is in great shape, and following Gunn’s directions we made our way up Mt. Barbour.  The route is mostly hiking, but has a 5-10 minute section of moderate scrambling just below the summit that added to the fun and epicness of the ascent.  Just like Copper Mound, the views from the top were great, but the summit has a much more aesthetic atmosphere than Copper Mound, and there was unanimous agreement that it was our favourite peak of the trip.  We left the summit at about 2:45 and headed down to our bags and from their to the Jeep, arriving at the Jeep just past 6:30.

Two full days of hiking, but everyone survived and at least claimed to have fun 🙂  We were even down early enough to enjoy a dinner at the Wood in Pemberton before saying goodbye and bringing our vacation to an end.  Tenquille Lake exceeded my expectations with regards to beauty and ease of access and I can see why it’s so popular these days.  The only downside of the area was the massive number of biting horseflies.  I can’t wait to get back up there and ascent the peaks on the north side of the lake!  Thanks to all for the great trip!

 

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