scrambling

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Date: July 28-31, 2017

Participants: Eira Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger, Ed Zenger, Leslie Zenger, Peter Zenger, Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace

Difficulty: 1-3

Report: Ever since Brittany and I climbed the Matriach-Macabre-Grimface traverse from Wall Creek back in 2013 I had the idea in my head to book a cabin at Cathedral Lakes Lodge for the whole extended family and explore the core part of Cathedral Park.  Earlier this year, Brittany and I finally got our act together and pulled the trigger to organize a 4 day trip into the park.

We all met on the night of the 27th at a Keremeos campground so that we wouldn’t have to drive too far the next morning to meet our 10am ride from Cathedral Lakes base camp up to the lodge compound at Quiniscoe Lake, and after a poor night’s sleep due to the sun waking Eira at 4:45am, we drove down Ashnola Creek road to meet our ride in.  Lucky for us, as we were going to be staying in Tom’s cabin, which is a few minutes walk above the lodge we all got to ride in a comfortable Suburban rather than the dusty Unimog with the other campers that morning.  The ride in takes about an hour and was made enjoyable by our driver, Ernie, and by noon we had all our belongings in the cabin and sat down for lunch.

Now, this is my largely my fault for not doing research beforehand, but I had no idea how nice the cabin was going to be.  We had a 4 bedroom cabin with sheets and sleeping room for 8 people, running hot water, as well as a stove and fridge!  True luxury!

As we ate lunch the valley filled with smoke from a fire burning south of the border in the Paysayten Wilderness, and Peter developed a fever that would stay with him for the next 4 days.  However, I was motivated to make it up all the remaining scrambles in the park and convinced my dad, Nancy, and Jeff to head out with me in the smoke to climb the east ridge of Pyramid Mountain.  This is a fun and easy half-day scramble from Quiniscoe Lake.  There is no exposure on the route and we made it to the summit in roughly 2 hours from the lake.  By the time we reached the summit, the smoke had started to subside, and from the summit we rambled along the ridge to Devil’s Woodpile, and down to the col to the south of Quiniscoe Peak.  From here, Jeff and I decided to take the long way back via Quiniscoe Mountain and Red Mountain while the others descended directly to Quiniscoe Lake.  Total round trip time for Jeff and I was about 4.5 hours.

The following day, all of us except Peter headed up to Lakeview Mountain via the Centennial Trail (note: this is not the route indicated in Gunn’s book.  We used that route for the descent).  The smoke had cleared completely by morning, and although it’s very heavy to carry an 18 month old baby all day, we shared the load around and ascended through wonderful meadows on the long gentle climb to Lakeview Mountain.  All day we could see the thick smoke to our south but it never quite encroached on us or severely diminished our views.  From the summit, everyone except for Nancy, Jeff, and I decided to head back down the way we ascended, but the 3 of us descended the south ridge of Lakeview on a good trail and made a quick jaunt up to the summit of Boxcar mountain.  From here we faced a decision of whether to return to the Lakeview-Boxcar col and follow the trail from there down to Goat Lake, or whether to continue to the south and head up Denture Ridge before descending to Goat Lake.  In the end, the decision was simple to head directly down as the smoke was starting to close in, and I found myself as able to justify not going up Denture Ridge because of how close to its high point I’d been on aforementioned trip to Matriarch.  The descent to Goat Lake was quick, and we caught up to the rest of the group not far past the Goat Lake – Centennial Trail junction, at which point I resumed my baby carrying duties.

On the Sunday, Peter was feeling well enough in the morning to join us for the beginning of our hike.  The goal was to make a circle, heading to Glacier Lake, then to Stone City, Smokey the Bear, the Giant Cleft, and then down via the Ladyslipper Lake trail and back to the cabin.  Peter and Leslie only made it as far as Glacier Lake before returning to the cabin on account of illness, but the rest of us continued upwards and made the full loop as described.  Smokey the Bear was worth checking out, but I wouldn’t really recommend people go check out the Giant Cleft.  It’s a neat formation, but if you’ve spent time in the mountains you’ve seen similar features before and visiting it requires significant elevation loss from Smokey the Bear.  In all, the loop took us nearly 7 hours.

For our final day, a few of us hiked around the lakes near the cabin, and spent the midday rowing boats around Quiniscoe Lake, although both my mom and dad chose to hike the Diamond Loop trail, which apparently has the best flower meadows of any trail in the core park.  After this, we packed up and caught our scheduled ride back down to our cars.  On the way out we stopped as usual at Benji Thai in Keremeos, and then had a terribly long drive home because a logging truck had dumped logs all over highway 3 near Manning Park and we were detoured from Princeton to Merritt in order to drive the Coquihalla to get back home to the Lower Mainland.  Oh well.

In all, this was a terrific trip, and I am very grateful that my whole family was able to join our experience.  The cabin exceeded all my expectations and the staff of the lodge were friendly and very helpful.  Highly recommended for everyone!

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Date: June 17, 2017

Participants: Bill, Ilze, Ove, Miranda, Joseph, Oudi, Nancy Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2/3 (steep snow)

Report: A couple weeks ago I found out that my scheduled BCMC trip to Ben Lomond wouldn’t be possible due to bush overgrowth on the Wind Lake trail from Furry Creek, and I needed to quickly select another destination for my trip.  A flip-through of Gunn’s Scrambles book suggested that Macdonald Peak and Mt. Webb in the Chilliwack Valley would make for a good trip destination at this time of year with the long days.  I haven’t been out on many long hikes lately, and I wasn’t sure how well I’d do on a 2000m day, but the forecast was good enough and decided to go for it.

Most of our carpool arrived at the Chilliwack Lake day-use area just before 8am, although one of our drivers missed the turn and drove part way around the lake before heading back to the proper parking area.  This delayed us somewhat, but we were able to start hiking at around 8:30, down the beach trail towards the bridge and over the Chilliwack River.  From the river crossing, it’s about a 2.5km walk downriver to the no longer existent bridge crossing mentioned in Gunn’s book, and another 500m up to the (well-signed) start of the Radium Lake trail.

The trail up to Radium Lake is long and quite uninteresting aside from the 3 creek crossings: one on a remarkable suspension bridge that would have been a huge effort to construct, one on a flattened log, and the other on a plain old footbridge.  We hustled up the trail without any significant breaks and reached the lake at 11:30 (parking to lake: 3 hours).  Miranda’s flight the previous evening had been significantly delayed and landed at 2:30am, so she elected to sleep on the tent platform by the lake while the rest of us went up to the peaks above.

The flagging indicating the trail up to the Macdonald-Webb col was not obvious to us from the tent platform, and so for the first 10 minutes above the lake we found ourselves bushwacking up the hill before stumbling across a perfectly good trail that we should have been on all along.  We hit snow just before the trail leaves the trees, and with good snow conditions were able to quickly kick steps up to the Macdonald-Webb col where we stopped for lunch and to put on our crampons (lake to col: just under 1 hour).

From the col, we could see that our route up Macdonald would be almost entirely on snow, whereas the south ridge of Webb was 99% snow free.  Macdonald being the larger peak, we decided to head there first, and quickly made our way up to the false summit on snow.  From here, Gunn’s book suggests scrambling up the north ridge, but there was a snow face just to the right of it that appeared to go nearly to the summit, so with our ice axes and crampons we kicked steps up the steep snow slope (~40-45 degrees at steepest point) until we hit rock just below the summit block.  Here we removed our crampons and it was a quick 5 minute scramble on to the summit, which we reached at about 2:05 (col to Macdonald summit: 1 hour, 20 minutes).  We relaxed on the summit for a while, taking in the views of Rexford as the clouds permitted, before starting our way down to the col, departing at around 2:30.

The initial descent was slow as we kicked steps back down the steep snow, but soon sped up and we headed back down to the col, stopping for another bite to eat.  It was getting late by the time we were ready to start our ascent of Webb and so we left our packs in the col, and hustled up the obvious south ridge of Webb as quickly as we could.  Joseph and I made it to the summit in 21 minutes from the col, and the last of us made it up in 30 minutes.  The views were much better from the summit of Webb than they were from Macdonald, so we stopped to take photos and enjoy the day, but eventually noticed it was 4:30 and that we’d need to hustle to make it back down.  The descent off of Webb was quick and easy, and snow made the descent down to Radium lake quick as well, and we reached the lake at 5:30 for our final major rest of the day.

Like so many other hikes in BC, the final stretch of this trip was a real slog and really not fun at all.  With tired legs the descent from Radium Lake to the Chilliwack River and then the ascent back to Chilliwack Lake and the parking lot seemed to go on forever, but we eventually reached our cars at about 8:20 (lake to parking: 2 hours, 35 minutes).

We were really lucky with the weather as it was great for efficient movement: high overcast all day, never raining and never hot.  As a final note, I would not recommend that anyone ever choose to hike just to Radium Lake.  It’s not a particularly nice lake, and you can’t see much of anything above it.  If you want to go to Radium Lake, I would strongly recommend that you follow the trail up to the Macdonald-Webb col, where the great views start, or even ascent all the way up to Mt. Webb.  Thanks to everyone for coming out with me.  I got to summit two new peaks, and had a great day!

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Date: May 14, 2016

Participants: Radmila Bridges, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3 (snow to 40 degrees, some scrambling moves)

Report: Another month, another chance for an adventure.  With a baby at home I have to be more selective than I used to when it comes to getting out these days, and it gives me incentive to pick destinations closer to Vancouver to minimize travel time.  There aren’t many significant peaks near Vancouver that I haven’t climbed, but one notable exception was Mt. Hanover and so I posted a last minute trip on the BCMC schedule to try and find a couple people to head up Hanover with me.

Saturday morning we drove up to the Porteau Rd turnoff on Hwy 99 and seeing that the gate was open to the upper Deeks Creek trailhead, we drove up.  The road is in pretty bad condition in a few places with quite large loose rocks and deep grooves, but the Jeep survived the ascent and we quickly shaved off 3km of boring logging road hiking from the day.  I don’t know how much longer the road is going to be in driveable condition with a regular 4wd that has not been jacked up, but for now it goes.  We parked at the so called “upper parking area” at about 7:50, and shortly after 8, walked up the road another few hundred metres to the “upper upper parking area”, where the trail begins.  In theory someone could drive up these final few hundred metres, but I was not willing to risk in my jeep.

The trail to Deeks lake is in excellent condition, with only a couple minor pieces of deadfall to contend with and we reached the lake at 9:20am and stopped for our first break.  Deeks lake is larger than I thought it was, and there are a couple nice camping spots by the lake.  Nonetheless, we didn’t wait there long and soon turned right, crossed the logjam at the exit to the lake, and continued on the Howe Sound Crest trail around the lake and worked our way through pleasant terrain up towards Hanover Lake.  The creek was running high at the place where the trail crosses to the east side of the creek, but luckily there was a large nearby snow bridge that we used to cross.  At Hanover lake the trail gave way to snow, and above the lake we missed the place where the trail crosses back to the right side of the creek, but it was no problem because at the exit of Brunswick lake there was another logjam that was easily crossed, and just past 11am we were at the Brunswick Lake emergency shelter, where we stopped for our second break of the day.

From the emergency shelter, we followed the HSCT markers towards Hat pass until the terrain became open and there was an obvious location to contour to the left onto a bench and start heading towards Mt. Hanover.  Below Mt. Hanover the snow was mushy and slowed our progress, but we steadily ascending up until the notorious two gullies on the south / south east side of Hanover came into view, and we found ourselves below them at around 12:30.  In summer conditions the left gully is reportedly much easier than the right gully due to some difficult scrambling moves required to get around two chockstones in the right gully.  However, in mid May conditions, the left gully was an alternating mix of rock and snow patches with a few difficult looking gaps in the snow, whereas the right gully appeared to be snow filled completely and so we took out our ice axes and started up the right gully.

Not far up the right gully we encountered a significant moat in the snow at the first chockstone, a few metres deep, but not terribly wide, and we were able to bypass it on the right via a few easy scrambling moves on the rock.  Above this it was steady step kicking all the way up to the summit (soft enough to not need our crampons), which we reached just past 1:30.  The gully varies in steepness, but about 2/3 of the way up has a sustained section of 40 degree snow that, while not hard, was somewhat stressful due to the big hole 3/4 of the way down the gully that loomed below us.  It eases off a bit below the summit, and the gully tops out on the literally a few metres from the true summit.  We spent a few minutes taking photos on the summit, and the crossed back over the top of the gully to a nearby subsummit that was snow free and were we could sit on the rocks, eat lunch, and enjoy the views all around.  Total ascent time: 5.5 hours.

The descent down the summit gully was slow as we had to face inwards and carefully follow our steps the whole way down.  At the gap / chockstone, I misplaced one of my poles on the rock and it slipped down into the hole.  Luckily, it landed on a snow lip and I was able to get myself into a position where I was able to fish it out with my ice axe.  That left the chockstone hole unsatisfied and demanding sacrifice, and as Radmila crossed from the rock back onto the snow, she dropped one of her poles into the hole, where unlike my pole it did not land on a ledge and is now waiting to be found by another adventurer.

By 3:15 we were back on the easy snow below the summit block and put away our ice axes.  From here, we motored down nonstop, and reached the car at about 10 to 6, for a total descent time of about 3.5-3.75 hours.  Car to car time was a bit shy of 10 hours.  In all, it was a great early season trip.  I probably could’ve chosen a shorter/easier trip for my first real hiking/scrambling trip of the year, but given my lack of free time it was great to get out and knock off one of the remaining local mountains from my hit list.  Mt. Hanover is quite out of the way, and so I wouldn’t recommend tackling it until someone has already knocked off the more popular local trips (Brunswick, Harvey, Lions, etc), but it is nonetheless a worthwhile outing.  Many thanks to Radmila for accompanying me and providing great company for the day.

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Date: June 27, 2015

Participants: Alex Le, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3 (solid 3rd, some exposure, never exceeding 3rd)

Report: Saturday was forecast to be the hottest day of the year… what could be a better idea than to do a long day hike with plenty of elevation gain to a beautiful scramble?  Apparently we were the only people who thought this way, as the crowds that I expected to see up at Yellow Aster Butte and Tomyhoi Peak never materialized.  Tomyhoi was one of the remaining “3 star” Matt Gunn routes that I hadn’t climbed, and aside from severe water loss due to the incredible heat (I went through 5 litres of water and was still dehydrated), we had an amazing day.  Tomyhoi is a great scramble in a gorgeous area.

A few delays led us to not leave my place in New West until about 7:20am, and this meant that by the time we hit the border crossing, the line was long (45 minutes), and so we didn’t make it to the Yellow Aster Butte trailhead until nearly 10 o’clock.  Note that the Twin Lakes road has degraded somewhat from the “excellent 2wd” condition described in Gunn’s book.  It could probably be done in most 2wd vehicles, but a few rough sections could make some people being uncomfortable and I was happy to have brought my Jeep.

We set out from the trailhead at about 10 and the day was already terribly hot.  The switchbacks up the initial slope went quick enough, although we had some confusion before the turn off to yellow aster butte.  The guidebook says to “look for a trail that goes off to the left” and at one point we thought we saw a trail heading left, but it turned out to just be a minor spur to a campsite.  The actual trail to yellow aster butte is very well marked with a big sign and obvious when you get there, just minutes before the trail reaches the pass at the end of the valley.  From the turnoff, it was quick going on the traverse to yellow aster butte, and just as we crested the knoll where you see the route down to the tarns and the ridge leading to Tomyhoi itself, it was apparent how amazing the views on the trip were going to be.

From this knoll there are amazing views of Shuksan and Baker, and the ridge from here down to the tarns and up towards Tomyhoi are extremely pleasant and varied.  It took us a bit under 2 hours to the tarns where we had lunch, and from there about 2 hours to wander up the ridge (pushing the pace, really) to the subsummit (with a bit of annoying up and down along the way).  The subsummit is quite nice, but from there the true summit looks very intimidating!

We scrambled down loose ledges to the col between the subsummit and true summit to get a look, and fortunately from the bottom it doesn’t really look so bad.  There’s a groove up to the left, then one from there up to the right, and it’s only from the top of that groove to the top of the ridge (perhaps 8m total) that the going gets quite difficult with decent exposure.  Luckily, this hard part is on the most solid rock of the day and neither of us had trouble ascending it.  For comparison, I’d say that the route is comparable to Sky Pilot, although probably a little easier.  Above this crux, the summit was easy to attain and although it’s a tiny summit, the views from the top were great, with plenty to see in both the US and Canada.  Total ascent time: 4 hours, 45 minutes.  Total water consumed on ascent: 3 litres.

The descent through the scrambling part was challenging for Alex as it was his first true scramble route, but with a bit of guidance and coaching he made it down safely and without too many frayed nerves.  From the subsummit down to the tarns went quickly even though the temperature was still scorching, but a quick dip in the tarns cooled us down and from there it was a tedious and tiring descent back to the car for a total round trip time of about 8 hours, 30 minutes.

In all, Tomyhoi is a fantastic trip and well deserving of the 3 stars that Gunn gave it in his guidebook.  You spend very little time in the trees, so almost the entire ascent is through the alpine, and the trip has plenty of variety including places requiring routefinding and a really nice scramble to top it off!  Sure, I went sweated out at least 6 litres of water over the course of the day, but that just meant that we were lucky enough to be up there on a day where we could have it all to ourselves!

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Date: Aug 27, 2014

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger, Edzis, Anders

Difficulty: 4 (short 4th section, lots of 3rd)

Report: I’ll keep this short because the route is so popular and so well documented.  Brittany and I saw that the forecast for the long weekend was wet, and we made the decision to take the Wednesday off to get in one last day of nice weather for this August.  We took the new gondola up a bit past 9, and hiked up the newly cleared and well marked “Sky Pilot Valley Trail” and followed it up to the West Ridge route up Sky Pilot.

Just as we reached the Stadium glacier we ran into Edzis and Anders, two nice Latvians living currently in Vancouver and who had seen nice photos from Sky Pilot online.  They didn’t know the exact route, and after a brief chat we loaned them some poles and grouped up with them for the ascent.  As relatively inexperienced scramblers the pink slab was a bit too difficult for them (from base to rap rings above it is 17m), but luckily I had brought a short rope and with the rap rings at the top of the pitch (also there are two rings in the final ascent gully) I was able to give them a quick belay to get down the most challenging parts.  Experienced scramblers will be able to downclimb these sections, but I’d bring a rope if you’re going with anyone less experienced.

Total ascent time was just over 3.5 hours.  One hour 15 to the end of the Sky Pilot valley trail, another hour and a bit to the Stadium glacier.  From the bottom of the pink slab to the summit was about 45 minutes.  The descent was only slightly shorter due to the aforementioned belays that I gave on the two steep parts.  In all, it was a beautiful day, and the rock is just perfect for scrambling on.  Highly recommended even with its popularity!

 

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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: July 27-28

Participants: Dave Scanlon, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2-5

Report: Brittany and I had gone in to Watersprite Lake with Dave and a couple others two winters ago just as a day trip to check out the skiing opportunities in the area, but until now we hadn’t ever been in the area in summer.  The BCMC (BC Mountaineering Club) has a tenure to build a hut at Watersprite Lake, and last week we were given the chance to head in there again with Dave to do a bit of improvement to the trail that he’s been building and to try and summit a few of the peaks surrounding the lake and see how we liked the area.

We met up at St. David’s at about 9 o’clock Sunday morning, just before the church crowd arrived, and piled into Dave’s 4×4 to make our way up towards the trailhead to get to the lake.  We drove up towards Squamish, turned  past the Apron parking lot onto Mamquam FSR, turned left onto the Skookum creek system just past the 13km mark and ascended the road up to the old upper staging area for the recently completed Skookum creek run-of-river IPP where we parked the car and set out up the road just before 10:30 (see image below for route drawn on map, ‘x’ marks parking spot).  Most of the drive in is 2wd accessible, but the last few km are a bit steep and loose.  The first 3.5km or so into Watersprite is on an old logging road, and after our snipping efforts last weekend is reasonably clear of alder and bush.  It took us about an hour and a half to reach the flagged turn off from the road to drop down into the meadows below where Dave has cleared and flagged a trail that can be followed up to the lake.  En route to the lake we helped fix up the trail, did a bit more snipping, and eventually arrived at the camping area / proposed hut location at the outflow of Watersprite Lake shortly before 3pm, for a total time to walk in of about 4.5 hours.

route

At the lake we set up camp and had a snack, but as the day was still young at around 4:30 I decided to head out on my own to ascend Dreadnought Peak, just to the NE of the lake.  I made my way around the south side of the lake to head up east to the col between Dreadnought and Watersprite Tower.  From here, Dave said he’d heard there was a class 3 route up to the summit of Dreadnought, but despite trying a few approaches to get onto the ridge I was unable to find one that looked like it’d go at anything less than a stiff class 4, and eventually found myself heading up the large obvious rock gully that heads up towards the west ridge of Dreadnought a couple hundred metres west of the col.  The gully was pretty unpleasant, but except for its exit, wasn’t particularly hard or steep.  On the way down I found that the steep exit can be avoided through the bushes on the left (west) of the gully.  Above the gully, pleasant easy scrambling led me to the summit of Dreadnought which I reached at 6pm.  There are three summits of Dreadnought, all perhaps 50 feet apart and all apparently within about 1 foot of elevation.  After gazing at the great view of Mamquam, Garibaldi, Sky Pilot, Tantalus, and the lesser known peaks to the east I descended back to camp for dinner and relaxation.

The following morning we headed up to attempt Watersprite Tower, Dave’s main objective for the trip.  I had brought along a 30m rope and a small set of nuts and cams, but from the sub-summit of the tower we found that our rope wasn’t long enough to rappel into the notch!  Furthermore, the climbing on the far side looked pretty difficult… After much hemming and hawing we eventually decided to give up on finding a way down into the notch and instead decided to traverse the ridge along the south side of the lake around over the high summit south of the lake and over towards Martin Peak.  Watersprite Tower would have to wait for a later attempt.  As an aside, there is a crazy balanced pillar on the sub-summit of Watersprite that couldn’t be moved into place by heavy machinery if you wanted to!

The ridge around the south of the lake is a very fun scramble.  Always interesting, and never too difficult, with a few short 3rd class sections.  The only tricky routefinding was the descent from the high point on the ridge (Peak 1877) to the col between it and the intervening bump between it and Martin Peak.  There was a cliff that we possibly could have rappelled, but we found instead that it was better to drop down heather slopes to the south, into the bowl below, and reascend to the col via heather and talus slopes.  From this point we had the option of continuing to Martin Peak, but as this col is the normal descent route from Martin Peak and we were already getting tired we decided to skip the final summit on the ridge and just descend down easy snow slopes back to Watersprite Lake.  We made it back to camp at about 2pm, so our total round trip time for the loop was about 6.5 hours.

Once back in camp we slowly packed up, and departed camp close to 3 o’clock to make our way back down to the car.  It would take us between 3.5 and 4 hours back to the car (so, so, so much easier in winter), and the final road seemed to go on forever, but we eventually made it and concluded another highly successful and fun trip.  The hiking around the lake isn’t super easy, but with some flagging it would be accessible to most experienced hikers and it is a very beautiful area.  Personally I wish the approach was an hour or two shorter, but apparently most people want a hut that’s a bit farther from the cars… apparently I dislike long approaches more than most, and 4-4.5 hours isn’t that excessive in the summer (it took us only around 3 hours in winter on skis).   Finally, many thanks to Dave for building a trail into the lake and showing us the way in.

 

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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 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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