Trip Date: July 13-14, 2013
Participants: Thomas Bissig, Ed Fischer, Helen Habgood, Darrell Harrington, David Overall, Ilze Rupners, Pavel Sorokin, Christina Williams, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger (organizer and reporter)
Difficulty: 2 (some scrambling, much bushwhacking)
Report: I’ve stared at Mt. Sedgwick from highway 99 countless times over pretty much my entire life, but I never took advantage of the easy access to Woodfibre prior to the closure of the mill and ferry in early 2006. Access today involves obtaining permission to dock at Woodfibre from its owners as well as arranging for a water taxi to take you over and pick you up, which can be costly. Luckily for me, there are many others in the same situation and I was able to round up a group of 10 BCMC and ACC members to split the cost of the water taxi and head over for a long two days to the now rarely visited peak.
We began by catching a water taxi from Squamish at 9am on the Saturday that got us over to Woodfibre where we were met by one of the on-site weekend staff members (the site is still used for electricity generation) who took our contact info, showed us which road to start walking up, and sent us on our way. The road behind the town switchbacks up steeply for just over 3km (ignore all new logging spurs) to a water intake facility, where the correct route takes the right hand branch just prior to the facility. From here, it continues up Woodfibre creek for another 3km or so before reaching a footbridge over the creek and the start of the trail up to Henriette Lake. Note that while the bridge is somewhat damaged it is still easy to cross and the creek is small enough anyways that it would be easy to cross without a bridge.
Across the bridge, the trail up to Henriette Lake is pleasant and in very good condition and we were up at the lake at noon, just 2.5 hours from when we started. The hut is still in decent condition, albeit mouse infested. The helipad at the lake made a great platform to relax and eat lunch before we headed off to see if the trail up to the ridge above Sylvia Lake was still in passable condition (which was considered perhaps the biggest unknown of the trip a priori). Well… the trail is still followable (just continue on the obvious path past the helipad), and still well marked (some flagging, many markers on trees), but is badly overgrown in many places leading up to the ridge (my guess is that in another 5 years it will be getting hard to follow in places). Nonetheless, everyone whacked through the bush in good spirits and we made our way up to the point on the ridge directly above Sylvia Lake.
In exchange for permission to dock at Woodfibre, we had agreed to help out the owners by taking photos of the outlet of Sylvia Lake, and Thomas, Ed, and myself went down to find the outlet. Going down to the lake took only a few minutes, but it didn’t take long heading around the lake to find a small cliff blocking our progress around the lake. Stubbornly refusing to walk back the way we went down and take the easy way around the cliff, Thomas led us straight up through the bush. 60 degree bush, occasionally wet, this was most definitely the crux of the trip for us, our struggles completely unbeknownst to the rest of our party who were sunbathing and waiting back on the ridge. From here it was straightforward down to the outlet of the lake where photos were taken and we hustled back to meet everyone else and continue our way towards Mt. Roderick.
The ridge has some substantial up and down as it contours around Woodfibre Lake, but the footbed was well defined and the trail easy to follow at least 90% of the time. The ridge is open enough that whenever we lost the trail it was always quickly stumbled upon again, and just as we started to tire we found ourselves at a beautiful camping spot on the ridge, approximately 1km SW of the summit of Mt. Roderick, a bit over 13km from where we started hiking. The weather and views were incredible all evening, and a great time relaxing was had by all.
The next morning we woke up at 5am, with the goal of getting moving by 6. The route from here to the summit of Mt. Sedgwick was straightforward, but long (still over 5km to go), and not always quick (some lower parts bushy, some higher parts bouldery), but everyone was on the summit of Mt. Sedgwick by 9:45. Success at last!
On the summit we enjoyed great views of the Tantalus range to the north, of the Sky Pilot area to the east, and the rarely visited areas around Phantom Mountain and Tzoonie Mountain to the west. Of course, we also filled our names into the summit register, and brought down an old summit register (including humourous complaints about awful weather dating back to the 1940s) to be donated to the BCMC or ACC archives. Shortly after 10 we departed, knowing that we still had over 18km of walking ahead of us to make it back to Woodfibre.
We were back in camp before 1, and on the trail again with our packs fully loaded shortly after 1:30. From here the going was easy as we knew the route from before and made it down to Henriette Lake at about 4 o’clock for a much needed break. Some of us rested on the helipad, others swam in the lake, and others explored the cabin, but half an hour later it was time to make a call to the water taxi (there is cell reception near the dam) to arrange to be picked up, and we started on our way down. The road was agony, the worst part of the trip, but it eventually ended, and everyone was down and waiting by the dock by the time the boat came to pick us up at 7:00. Sitting in the water taxi and gazing back at Mt. Sedgwick as we headed back to Squamish I was exhausted, but filled with the satisfaction of having conquered the peak at last with a fantastic group of people. Thank you everyone for the great weekend!