scrambling

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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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Trip Date: June 29-30, 2013

Participants: Alex Le, Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2 (Statimcets), 3 (Linus)

Report: After the trip to Mt. Sedgwick that I had been planning on going on fell apart late in the week, I hastily arranged to put together a “mellow” but enjoyable trip for the Canada Day long weekend.  Alex had to be back in town to work on the Monday, so the plan was made to head into Downton Creek for the Saturday and Sunday, and then the rest of us would find somewhere else to wander about on the Monday (when we ended up climbing Gott Peak).

Knowing that access should be quick into the Downton Creek drainage, we met up at the Mt. Currie Coffee Company in Pemberton at 10 o’clock, had breakfast, and headed out towards Lillooet on the Duffey Lake Road.  The forecast was for increasing temperatures over the weekend, and some predicted that the Lillooet / Lytton area would record the highest temperatures ever recorded in Canada by the Tuesday, but on Saturday morning the temperatures were still very reasonable.  We reached the Downton Creek turnoff at around 11:30, and everyone piled into my Jeep for the ride up to the Holly Lake trailhead.  Some reports indicate that the road in is 2wd, and that is generally true.  The roadbed itself (dirt and gravel) is in very good condition, but there are a couple places where having an extra inch or two of clearance makes the going a bit easier.  Nonetheless, a standard 2wd should be able to make it to the trailhead with a bit of patience.

We got everything sorted out at the trailhead and departed on the Holly Lake trail at about 12:30.  The trail is in fantastic condition and whoever is maintaining it has earned himself big kudos.  We reached Holly Lake after a bit less than an hour of hiking, and as nobody else was around, we considered setting up camp there, but decided instead to head up to the Alpine.  This was a great decision on our part because that night a stag party set up at Holly Lake (including a keg brought in by helicopter!) and the following day a few more parties came in to set up camp at the lake.  Up in the alpine, however, below Schroeder and Linus peaks there is a huge plateau at around 2100m with a couple small tarns on it, great views all around, and many good tent spots.  Also, being in the rain shadow, this area was snow free even though it was only the end of June.  Up there we were alone all weekend.  Total hiking time to this plateau (with overnight packs) was well under 2 hours.

After setting up camp and taking some quick naps, we decided at around 4:15 to head up Statimcets Peak (Downton Creek 8700 in Gunn’s Scrambles book).  We traversed around Faulty Tower and headed up a moderate snowslope to the South Ridge of Statimcets which we followed to the summit, reaching the summit a bit past 5:30.  With the long days and warm weather, there were fantastic views all around.  After lounging about for a while, we took the East Ridge down easy snow and scree (the route indicated in Gunn’s book) and were back in camp by 7 o’clock to cook dinner and enjoy the long daylight.

On the Sunday, we got up around 7 just as the temperature in our tent was approaching the level of “sauna”.  We set off after breakfast to head up the ridge to Linus peak, ascending moderately steep snow (35-40 degrees) to the low point on the ridge between Schroeder and Linus peaks, and turning onto the ridge to ascend Linus.  The ridge is quite loose and exposed in places, but largely class 2, with a handful of class 3 sections, such as an au cheval not far along (avoidable on an exposed ledge on the right, it’s easier to just go over it).  This was Mr. Le’s first scrambling experience and from this I learned that the ridge is quite scary and exposed for beginners.  Nonetheless, we all made it to the summit in one piece and enjoyed the crisp morning views.  Total ascent time from camp was approximately 2 hours.  A group vote was taken, and rather than continue on the ridge to Statimcets (my vote), we reversed our route back down, returning to our camp in the early afternoon, and from there, down to our vehicle (just over an hour total descent time), and a nice drive out to Lillooet for a meal at the main hotel.

The Downton Creek area is a fantastic basin for scrambling.  We only climbed two peaks, but I’d love to head back in a couple years with a quick party to do the full Soprano to Statimcets traverse.  It is definitely one of the easiest alpine areas to access in SW BC, and at present, almost nobody ventures above Holly Lake!  Highly recommended.

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Trip Date: September 29, 2012

Participants: Donna and Dave Scanlon (organizer), Barb and Clarence Kornatowsky, Lisa Quattrocchi, Jeff Ross, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger (reporter)

Difficulty: 3

Report: Dave extended an invitation a couple weeks ago to accompany him on a “fun day hike” to the BCMC’s Mountain Lake hut and Mt. Sheer, and as fans of “fun day hikes”, Brittany and I quickly signed on.  The eight of us met at St. David’s church at 7:30, and reached the Mountain Lake trailhead a bit past 8:30, so we were on our way a bit before 9 o’clock.

More work has been done to improve the trail since I last hiked it in July, and it’s in excellent shape right now.  Travelling at a moderate pace, taking frequent breaks to chat and take photos, we arrived at the hut at about 12:15 and proceeded to open it up.  The hut is in good condition and clean.  A glance at the log book showed that it’s been visited frequently this summer, although on this day we were the only people in the area, presumably due to a questionable weather forecast.  However, we enjoyed nice weather all day, mainly cloudy but with the sun and blue skies occasionally poking through.  After eating, Dave took us down to look at the old mine shaft just a few minutes below the hut, and shortly thereafter we set off for Mt. Sheer.

Brittany and I made an aborted attempt on Mt. Sheer back in July, where we turned back shortly after starting after realizing how much time our party would need to hike out, and so it was good to be back for a second attempt. This time all went well.  We dumped our bags at the col right below the ridge leading up to Mt. Sheer from Mountain Lake, and started up the scrambling part of the ridge.  The ridge goes at class 3 on quite solid rock.  Low on the ridge there is a decent amount of exposure on both sides, but there are holds everywhere and we made quick time up to the gap between a knoll on the ridge and the main summit.  From the gap, the ridge continues over enjoyable scrambling terrain, with the crux being a short near-vertical wall that can be negotiated either via a small ledge to the left, or by heading up the wall on the right side (the recommended route) where there are far more holds than are initially obvious.  Above this, easy scrambling leads to the summit in just a few minutes.

Once at the summit, the clouds on Ben Lomond finally lifted and we enjoyed the views of the mountains and were able to wave at Donna and Barb, waiting in the meadows down below.  The descent off the summit was quick and uneventful.  As I’d already downclimbed from the first knoll a couple months ago, Jeff and I descended below the ridge from the gap, and concluded that although an easier and quicker than following the ridge itself, it simply isn’t an aesthetic, nice, or particularly fun alternative.

Meeting up in the meadows below Mt. Sheer around 4, we set off to return to our vehicles, and reached them a bit past 6 o’clock.  Hoping to avoid having to drive to Brittania Beach in order to make a U-Turn and head south on the highway, we took the road fork down to Furry Creek, only to find the gate locked right above the golf course!  How annoying!  Fortunately we still had a bit of daylight to use to make our way back up to the main logging road above, where Lisa cleverly constructed a sign at the intersection with the road leading down to Furry Creek indicating that the gate lower down was locked.

In all, it was indeed a great fun day trip.  It was great to check out the hut instead of just seeing it from a distance, the company was great, and it turns out that Mt. Sheer is a fantastic little scramble.  Thank you Dave for organizing.

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Tricouni Peak

Trip Date: September 8

Participants: Andrzej Jarzabek, Paul Ng, Arnold Witzig, Will ?, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2/3.  Easy scrambling, some mild exposure on route

Report: I bought myself a used Jeep Liberty two weeks ago, and now having a 4×4 I decided to change the destination of my trip on the BCMC schedule to Tricouni Peak, which is essentially inaccessible with a 2wd car.  The trip was scheduled for the same day as the Vancouver-Whistler GranFondo bike race, but a bit of investigation revealed that the first road closures would be at 7:15 in Porteau Cove, and so by leaving Vancouver early enough, I determined that we would be able to stay ahead of the road closures and make it up the Squamish Valley to High Falls Creek.

We met at the Chevron station at Boundary & Dominion at 6:15, and quickly head off for Squamish, reaching Squamish at around 7:30, and made our way up the Squamish valley, and then up the High Falls Creek road network.  There is one nasty section of road about 2.5km from the Tricouni Meadows parking area, but after this the road is in fairly good shape until less than 1 km from the landing at the end of the road.  This last section of road is in really rough shape, but we pressed on to the end, and were able to set off on the trail a bit past 9 o’clock.  At this point, the weather was cool and sunny, but it would soon warm up rapidly.

The Tricouni Meadow trail is easy to follow, but ridiculously muddy until near the first lake.  From the first lake, we quickly ascended to the second and third lakes, and from there on up the standard route towards the summit of Tricouni.  The lakes are clear and turquoise, and the flowers in the meadows above the third lake were in full bloom.

We took our time on the ascent and descent, stopping frequently to enjoy the views and the warm atmosphere, but nonetheless were on the summit about 4 hours 15 minutes from when we started.  The route is primarily a hike, but the there is a short scrambling section about 30 minutes below the summit, and the last 10 minutes up the summit ridge itself are over enjoyable scrambling terrain, with mild exposure.  The summit of Tricouni itself is fantastic, with nice places to sit, and views all around.

We lounged about on the summit for nearly an hour, and departed just past 2.  The descent was quick and easy, and we had the time to stop at the first lake for a while, where Arnold and Andrzej summoned the courage to go for a quick swim.  From the first lake it was back to the mud below, and finally back to the cars.  Including the swim stop, the descent took just a few minutes over 3 hours, completing a great trip to cap the summer.

 

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Trip Date: August 17-19

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

Staying at Lake Lovely Water and the Tantalus Hut has been on my list for years now for its beauty, quality of hut, and remarkable closeness to Squamish.  Luckily, Britt had the foresight a few months ago to make reservations at the hut and to take it upon herself to organize a trip to the hut and to explore the area around it.  Thank you Brittany!

Saturday

We had an early start from New Westminster on Saturday in order to arrive with plenty of time to spare before our scheduled helicopter flight at 8:30, and arrived at the Squamish airport to find that Black Tusk Helicopter’s large helicopter had been commandeered for fire fighting duty.  No worry, they had a smaller helicopter available and their masterful pilot, Steve, had both loads of us and our gear up to the heli landing area near the hut by 9:30 or so.  It was my first time in a helicopter, and I had a great time flying in to the hut.  I think I’ll have to try and do more heli-access trips in the future!

The weather was warm and beautiful as we arrived at the hut, and we took our time to unpack our stuffed bags (fresh food on a backcountry trip!) and introduce ourselves to the party of VOC and MECers that had arrived just before us and that was going to be staying at the hut until Wednesday.  Nonetheless, as the forecast had been poor for Sunday, we got ourselves ready to head up towards Pelops and Niobe and departed for them some time around 11.

The initial route into the Omega-Niobe basin is straightforward, and we didn’t have any trouble finding our way onto the flatish part of the glacier that needs to be crossed on the way up to the Omega-Iota col.  Nonetheless, we definitely took a route higher and further to the right than the one indicated in Gunn’s book (we went right and over the “prominent grey buttress” instead of left of it).  I can see why some parties would feel it unnecessary to rope up for the short glacier crossing, but you never want to end up the idiot at the bottom of a crevasse with a rope in your bag, and so we put on our harnesses and roped up to cross the glacier.  Once across, it is easy to follow a fun series of class 2 ramps and ledges up to the Omega-Iota col, and from the col, despite its steep appearance, we quickly and easily made our way up Iota.

From the summit of Iota we had our first glimpse of the incoming weather system, and didn’t linger long before descending the backside to the Iota-Pelops col.  The scramble down had some unexpected moderate exposure, but is quite easy, and from the bottom, we made our way to the left through the dense krummholz to the trail leading up Pelops, and in short time found ourselves on the summit.  From here, it is reportedly a quick jaunt of less than 30 minutes over to Niobe, and there didn’t appear to be any major difficulties to be surmounted to get there, but we had started to hear thunder and see lightning approaching from the south west and made the hard call to turn around without bagging Niobe.  I’ll have to head back someday to get Niobe, perhaps by a different route, such as the NE ridge.

Heading down from Pelops, over Iota, and back down to the lake was easy and uneventful and despite the visible rain and lightning in the distance, it never reached us.  We were back at the hut just as the evening was darkening and settled in for a great dinner made with fresh ingredients.  As we had been up early, the four of us headed to bed early and slept long into the next morning.

Sunday

With a poor Sunday forecast, we had made the decision to spend the day exploring the lake, and after a long sleep and relaxing breakfast, we headed out in the late morning to take out one of the row boats on the dock by the hut.  As soon as we got into the row boat, however, we noticed that it leaked!  Luckily we had the foresight to go back to the hut and grab a pot to use to bail out the boat periodically and keep it afloat as we explored the lake.  We spent all day exploring the lake and docking at its various beaches, and while we were doing so the weather continually improved, so that by the time we went back to the hut in the late afternoon it was once again a hot, sunny day.  As on the previous day, we enjoyed a wonderful meal of noodles and fresh vegetables and settled in for a comfortable evening in the hut, passing the time away playing a version of Trivial Pursuit left in the hut by another party.

Monday

Monday was always going to be a quiet day as we had an afternoon helicopter pick up to catch.  Nonetheless, we made the most of the time we had and followed the flagged approach trail up to the east shoulder of Alpha.  Someday I’d love to come back and climb the East Ridge of Alpha, and it seemed worthwhile to check out the approach route.  Alpine Select says that there isn’t much of a route, but we found it easy to follow on the ground, and generally well flagged.  At our high point we could see a group coming down after being fogged off of the East Ridge of Alpha.  Although the weather was good below and the day had a great forecast, the East Ridge and summit of Alpha were shrouded in dense fog, rendering it unclimbable that day… such is the unpredictability of mountain weather.

Steve returned to pick us up a bit before 3 o’clock, and once again made two trips to pick up our gear and us.  The flights were short and sweet, and by 3:30 we were sitting on the patio at the Watershed, enjoying a warm and clear summer’s day with a great view back up to Alpha and where we were.  Lake Lovely Water really is a beautiful spot.  I was actually surprised by the ruggedness of the terrain and the lack of hikes within a typical hiker’s ability.   Nonetheless, it is surrounded by a wealth of challenging scrambling and moderate mountaineering routes, and I hope to get back there in the next year or two with the time to tackle some of those routes.

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Trip Date: August 5-6

Participants: Max Bitel, Brittany Zenger, Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1 (Illal), 2 (Coquihalla), 3 (Jim Kelly)

Report: A long debate between the four participants over what an acceptable destination would be for everybody eventually led us to the idea of doing an overnight trip to Coquihalla Mountain.  Other than Ed, who climbed Coquihalla back in 1992, none of us had been to the area and we had heard that Illal Meadows was a great place to camp.

We didn’t leave Vancouver until early in the afternoon, and it wasn’t until 4:30 that we parked Ed’s X-Trail 1.5km up the Illal Creek road (out of a maximum of 3km) due to extreme bush.  Despite being late in the afternoon, the temperature was hovering around 30 degrees, and to avoid overheating, we moved slowly as we made our way up to Illal Meadows. The directions in 103 hikes are accurate and easy to follow, and we were up in the meadows by 6:30.  We bumped into two women camping low in the meadows, and they informed us that another party was camping at the tarn directly below Jim Kelly Peak, and so we elected to camp at a flat spot next to a creek along the east edge of the meadows.  A powerful warm wind blew over us all evening that kept the bugs away, and after a relaxing evening near the camp, settled in for a warm night under an incredibly bright moon.

We woke up Monday morning just after 6 and after breakfast, headed out for Coquihalla Mountain.  Ed had previously climbed the NE ridge, but as this was intended to be an easy hiking trip, without any major scrambling, we decided to head for the mellow South ridge of Coquihalla.  One major mix up had us bushwack through steep dense bush down from the ridge below Jim Kelly to the col between Jim Kelly and Coquihalla, only to realize at the bottom that there’s a well trod trail in good condition all the way down from the low point on the ridge between Jim Kelly and Illal down to the Coquihalla-Jim Kelly col.  Oh well.

Traversing around the east side of Coquihalla was straightforward, a mix of grass, talus, and occasionally patch of snow, and it didn’t take us long to find ourselves south of the main peak of Coquihalla, where we started ascending the obvious rib, occasionally finding bits of ribbon but never needing to think too hard about the route.  High up on the ridge, there is a short rubbly scrambling section if you go straight up the centre of the gully, but this can be avoided by ascending larger boulders to either the left or right of the gully.  Both Max and Ed’s watch altimeters indicated that we had about 500ft left before the summit, but at the top of the gully we found ourselves unexpectedly on the summit!  It was only around 10 o’clock, and we took our time to enjoy the warm air and clear views all around.

We all departed the summit around 11, and worked our way back towards Illal Meadows.  Max and I decided to head up Jim Kelly while Ed and Brittany went over to Illal Mountain.  From below, Jim Kelly looks like quite a formidable rubbly scramble, but as we made our way up it, we found that by moving left and right, we were able to avoid most of the rubble and never encountered any major difficulties.  It only took around 20 minutes to scramble up to the summit of Jim Kelly from the bench below the summit.  On the summit there is a massive fallen down cross, and we had our first glimpse of a dark thunderstorm to the south east of us, over in the direction of Manning Park.

Max and I were back down on the bench below Jim Kelly at 1:30, and I decided to make a quick solo trip over to Illal before the thunderstorms hit.  The round trip time from the bench to the summit of Illal, then down to our campsite was only 50 minutes, and as the storm was clearly approaching rapidly, we packed up camp quickly and began heading down around 3.

Not long after leaving camp, the unexpected storm hit, and we were drenched as we worked our way back to the car.  The descent took around an hour and a half, and we were all extremely grateful to have packed a change of clothes as we were all completely soaked!  Nonetheless, the trip itself was an absolute success, and can be highly recommended as a moderate trip off the beaten track.

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Trip Date: July 7, 2012

Participants: Jeff Ross (organizer), Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger + 6 more BCMC members

Difficulty: 4.  Mostly a stiff 3rd class, with one short pitch of low-5th climbing.

Report: Easily visible and prominent from many parts of the Lower Mainland, including from the river shore in front of my place in New Westminster, Blanshard Needle has been on my to-do list for a couple years now, but until just a couple days before this trip was scheduled to run I still had no idea when I’d have an opportunity to tackle it.  However, a fortuitous series of events led to Brittany and I signing up for the trip at the last minute and on a beautiful warm Saturday morning we found ourselves driving out to the Golden Ears West Canyon trailhead.

Our party gathered at the trailhead and departed around 8:30.  The first couple km of the route follow the regular west canyon trail towards Alder Flats, but just before the crossing of Evans Creek, there is a trail that heads off into the trees on the left.  The Evans Creek trail is in great shape and was easy to follow, and we made quick time following the trail to its end where it dumped us out onto the creek bed at the bottom of the basin below Blanshard and Edge.  From here, we proceeded to take the wrong route as we followed the obvious, wide creek bed up towards Edge.  Luckily, Jeff didn’t take too long to realize that the route didn’t feel right, and we backtracked right back to where the trail ended at the creek, and found the correct route to follow.  Immediately after making it to the creek, you have to turn left to follow another (smaller) creek bed (there is flagging if you look carefully) up towards Fly’s Gully.

Even in early July, Fly’s Gully was snow filled right down to the bottom, and most of us put on our crampons (even with the summer heat, the gully faces NE and doesn’t see much sun) to ascend the 35 degree gully.  We topped out of the gully at around 12:30, dumped our crampons and ice axes, and followed the easy ridge from the Alouette-Blanshard col up to the base of the needle itself.

At the base of the needle, there is one short pitch (perhaps 12m?) of low 5th climbing that I’m sure some people would be willing to climb unroped, but not me.  Jeff led the pitch in fine style, and by having a few people top rope on the same rope at the same time, it didn’t take long for everyone to make it up the pitch.  From the top of the pitch, it is generally straightforward to find the route up to the false summit, although some of the flagging has fallen away.  From the false summit, we made a very short descent into the notch between the two summits, and although some reports have mentioned the exposure of crossing the notch, I thought it was less bothersome than on other parts of the route due to the ease of crossing the notch (similar to the summit ridge of Mt. Brunswick).  Once across the notch, it is only another few minutes of scrambling up to the main summit.  In all, the route has one pitch of low-5th climbing, followed by a consistently steep (and in places exposed) 3rd class scramble right up to the summit.  It was some of the most enjoyable scrambling that I’ve ever done.

We arrived on the summit around 2:30, and the views were amazing in all directions.  The local peaks such as Golden Ears, Edge, Robie Reid, Judge Howay, and Crickmer were all clear, as was Alouette just to the south of us where we could see a few hikers arriving on its summit.  Further away, we could make out details on Sky Pilot, Baker, and Slesse through the clear air above the haze below.

We departed the summit a bit past 3, and downclimbed the same route that we ascended to the 5th class pitch, which most of us rappelled.  Putting the crampons back on it was a quick and easy descent down Fly’s Gully, with a few of us having some accidental self arrest practice sessions on the softening snow. We did have a scary incident near the bottom where a couple of bowling ball sized rocks came loose from above and careened down the steep gully, narrowly missing some of our party members! From the base of the gully we made good time down the Evans Creek and West Canyon trails, and reached our cars at about 6:45.  A truly fantastic trip!  Thank you Jeff for organizing!

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Trip Date: October 15, 2011

Participants: Saravie Brewer, Max Bitel, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 4

To find a more detailed trip report, please see my report of the route from the previous year.

For the second year in a row, early October brought a string of fair weather days, and Max suggested that we repeat our trip from the previous October to Crown Mountain via the Crater Slabs route, and this time bring Brittany and Saravie along with us for a taste of more serious scrambling.  We met up at about a 6:45 at the base of Grouse, where we left a vehicle and shuttled over to the entrance of Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, where we parked just outside the gate (as the gate is closed from 7pm-8am at this time of year) and were hiking up the road at about a quarter to 8.  The previous year we started our trip by hiking directly up to Dam Mountain from the base of the skyride and dropping down from Crown pass to Hanes Valley, but the direct route into Hanes Valley from Lynn proved to be much more efficient, and I recommend doing the trip as a loop for anyone who’s able to organize a vehicle shuttle.

We quickly made our way up Lynn Valley, and then Hanes Valley, and stopped for lunch high on the talus field before the gully that starts the route proper.  In order to give a lengthy headstart to another pair that we encountered wanting to do the same route and minimize the risk of being hit by rocks kicked down by them, we took our time and enjoyed the sunny autumn air, and began our way up the gully shortly after noon.  The route was dry, and once again we were able to provide plenty of entertainment to the crowds up on the summit of Crown gazing down upon us as we made our way up the slabs.  Near the top of the slabs, I made my way off to the left hand side of the main couloir with Brittany and Saravie (the easiest way out), while Max headed out on to the slabs directly below the summit and once the rest of us had established ourselves on the summit block, he made his way straight up to us.  He reports that the upper section of the slabs just below the summit venture into low-5th territory and that anyone who found the lower slabs challenging should exit straight up the couloir as the rest of us did.

Full of adrenaline from the climb up the slabs, Brittany was strangely hesitant to climb the summit block, but in the end we all got our photos of a beautiful fall afternoon and relaxed to enjoy some home made banana bread (far superior to Clif bars, I must say).  We left the summit at around 4:15, and made our way back to the Grouse mountain chalet, arriving after dark, only to buy our downloading tickets and to find that the red skyride was undergoing maintenance and that we’d have to line up for the blue skyride.  Had we known how long the line would be, we would have hiked down the BCMC trail in the dark.  However, as we already had our tickets, we settled down in the cafeteria to eat dinner and wait… and ended up waiting nearly 3 hours, finally arriving back at the base of grouse around 11pm.  Despite this delay though, the day could not be damaged, and an exhilarating and fun day was had by all of us.

Verdict: 3/3

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Trip Date: Oct 2, 2010

Participants: Max Bitel, David Carne, Jeff Ross, Geoff Zenger (reporter)

Difficulty: 4.  Mostly sustained 3rd class with exposure, but with a couple of 4th class steps that many people would want a rope to safely ascend.  It is harder than most of the “difficult” scrambles in Matt Gunn’s book, and it is recommended that you complete many of them, or have an outdoor rock climbing background, before attempting this route.  If you follow the slabs direct to the summit instead of exiting at the end of the couloir, then there is substantial 4th class on the route.

Report: For this blog’s first trip report, I’ve decided to post a trip report from the vault, so to speak, from one of my favourite scrambles of the past few years.  Max and I would return with Saravie and Brittany the following year to repeat the ascent, with some route modifications.

Max and I had talked about climbing the Crater Slabs route on Crown for at least a year prior to our ascent, but each time we had planned on climbing it the weather turned and our trip had to be cancelled. Lucky for us, after a miserable September, early October brought a few days of sun to dry out the slabs so we quickly arranged to attempt the route.

I awoke Saturday morning to a grey sky of low overcast and a call from David to inform me that my ride to the base of Grouse would be late. David, Max, and I ended up not arriving at the base of the grind until nearly 8:30, by which point Jeff had been waiting for us for a full half hour. We were unsure of whether it would be better to approach the crater slabs from Lynn / Hanes valley or from Grouse, but we decided on the Grouse approach after a friend told us that a couple weeks earlier he had some difficulties crossing Lynn creek. Another concern was that although the day was forecast to be dry and it had been dry all week in the city, online satellite precipitation maps showed that it had been raining lightly during the night in the vicinity of Crown mountain. It would turn out that there is little foliage in the couloir or on the slabs, and so although the forest was wet, by mid-day the rock was bone dry.

Upon seeing the crowds at the base of the grind and the BCMC trail and figuring that we had no reason to rush, we started up the grind and headed for one of the trails that leads directly up to Dam mountain in order to avoid the crowds. We reached the peak of Dam around 11:15 and took a break to eat lunch. Soon after beginning the descent from Dam to Crown pass, we encountered a group of German hikers who thought that there were bears on the ridge to Goat, and we were advised to not proceed. Not seeing any signs of bears, we ignored their advice and proceeded down to Crown pass and into Hanes valley. As we began the descent, the clouds finally cleared and gave way to sun, leaving us with perfect scrambling conditions.

While descending into Hanes valley it looked like it might be possible to avoid descending all the way down until the talus slope that descends from Crown pass intersects the one coming down the valley from the summit of Crown by traversing the slopes at the base of the rock wall on the left. Not sure of whether the traverse was feasible or not, Jeff, Max, and I sat down as David went on a scouting mission to investigate. Some ten minutes later we could hear the words “go down” echo through the valley and we got up to head down to where the two talus slopes intersected. Not knowing what happened to David and apparently no longer in vocal communication range with him, we waited at the bottom for him, and were finally ready to begin our ascent of Crown from deep in Hanes valley at about 1:30.

To reach the Crater Slabs, you ascend the slope from Hanes valley leading towards the summit of Crown, always following the left-hand wall. After 20 or so minutes of ascending from the valley bottom, we reached the beginning of the Crater Slabs route proper, where the route starts up a narrow rock gully with a small creek running through it. Until this point, the route is a straightforward hike, but from this point onwards the route steepens significantly, and although the gully is mostly 3rd class, there are a number of class 4 sections that many people would be uncomfortable ascending without a belay (especially when wet). The rock is generally of good quality, although friable in places. The most difficult step of the gulley is right at its end, where there is a short near-vertical wall that needs to be ascended to reach the main slabs. Once the slabs are reached, downclimbing the route to retreat would be significantly more difficult than continuing upwards.

Our original intent had been to follow the main couloir most of the way up, and to traverse right out of the couloir onto a bushy ledge, and to ascend from there straight up to the summit of Crown. However, we missed our turn off from the main couloir, and ascended it all the way to the top, where it connects with the regular Crown hiking trail about a hundred feet below the summit. This is fairly easy, although near the top there is a lot of loose rock, including some larger boulders. Our only scare of the day happened when a large boulder was sent down the couloir and sent an avalanche of rocks down the gully between where Max and I were climbing. Another feasible option would be to traverse out of the main couloir to the lower angle slabs below the Camel and to approach the summit of Crown from the base of the Camel. All of these variations are quite similar in exposure and angle, and any one will provide for a great day of scrambling. From the base of the gully at the top of Hanes Valley to the summit of Crown via the Crater Slabs took about an hour and a half.

We reached the top of Crown sometime between 3:15 and 3:30, where we found sizeable crowd of hikers eager to learn about the route that they had watched us ascend. We left the summit around 4:30 and hiked down to the gondola in beautiful light and cool, crisp autumn air, arriving at the chalet just as the sun set, a bit before 7pm. With its long line of enjoyable scrambling and its proximity to the city, this route is highly recommended.

Verdict: 3/3.  A must do for the experienced coastal scrambler

 

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