Trip Date: September 29, 2012
Participants: Donna and Dave Scanlon (organizer), Barb and Clarence Kornatowsky, Lisa Quattrocchi, Jeff Ross, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger (reporter)
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.