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Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Mount Penrose - South Ridge, August 2022
A wee bit tardy in posting this one up, as all my TRs have been lately, but considering there's not a lot of info out there for Penrose perhaps others can benefit from the info. Firstly, be forewarned that conditions are likely to be very different at time of my writing this thanks to the Downton Lake wildfire that continues to ravage the community of Goldbridge. The blaze originated on the peak's south flank and most likely spread across the east slopes where the trail is (was?) located before engulfing the area around Gun Lake and beyond. I was in the area twice over a span of a about a month in Summer 2023, and both times noted a smallish fire burning near the peak. Major hydro investments in the area and abundant water sources to boot, not to mention nearby homes; surely "they" would have put it out, before, you know, it grew out of control. But anyway...
Drove up the eve prior, spending the night at the free rec site towards end of Carpenter Lake about 10kms from Goldbridge. Had more ambitious plans for the following day, with this as a backup just in case. Weather seemed questionable in the AM, so I reluctantly defaulted to "just in case" and made my up towards Gun Lake. FSR in decent shape, make sure to hang a right at the fork (you'll know the one when you come upon it). A short rough-ish bit and waterbar could complicate matters for some SUVs, but it's not long after before the hairpin where the TH is located (~0.5 km).
Trail is well established and easy to follow, albeit steep to the ridge crest where the solar panel/comms "thing" is located. Route up the SE Ridge appears steeper than it is, mostly class 2 and loose in spots. Views are fantastic, particularly of Downton Lake with Mount Ethelweard looming just beyond..very tempting! Arguably better views a than from its higher neighbor Dickson, a mere 3 kms to the NW. Some light snowfall up top before it cleared up in the afternoon. 7 hours round-trip at an average pace and ~1 hr lounging on summit. Great consolation prize on its own or a good add-on for those seeking to fill a weekend after tacking more ambitious objectives the day prior.
Cathedral Mountain - West Ridge via Seymour Valley Trailway, August 2022
The tallest of North Shore Mountains and arguably the most coveted, Cathedral Mountain has seen a surge in popularity thanks to its inclusion in the local Bagger Challenge list. Its fluted south flank presents an impressive "green wall" and is easily recognizable from East Vancouver and parts of Burnaby, when driving over the Ironworkers Bridge and from summits as far north as Squamish (i.e., Anif, Alpen). Cathedral's newfound popularity belies the fact that to reach the peak one must trespass either the Seymour Lake Watershed or Capilano Lake Watershed, possibly both. Fortunately, enforcement is rather lax and the threat of any contamination by humans is probably slim to none. To get to it requires one to hike the steep trail up and over Paton Peak, Coliseum Mountain, and Mount Burwell, then descend ~1200 feet to a saddle before the final climb up to the summit. The trail up from the saddle is well defined these days, without much in the way of brush or technical difficulties. It does however traverse narrow and somewhat exposed heather ledges and ramps on the north side of the peak, which on a damp, foggy day such as we experienced required extra caution. Furthermore, the descent from Burwell to the saddle is tricky and riddled with bluffy impasses, making for difficult navigation particularly in low visibility...more on that later.
Joined by Amy, whom I hiked Leading Peak with earlier in the season, and a trio of her bagger friends, we set out by bike on the Seymour Valley Trailway for a ~9 km ride to the spur that leads to the Paton Peak Trailhead. Ditched the bikes and made the unrelentingly steep hike up to Paton where we stopped for a break and to enjoy the first views of the day. Then onwards to Coliseum, making camp at the little tarn there. Amy and another went for a dip while the rest of us whiled away the afternoon, enjoying a spectacular sunset and the glimmering city lights before calling it a night. Woke up to dense fog the next morning but sallied forth for Cathedral expecting it to burn off by mid morning. Made it just shy of Burwell before a member of our party bowed out citing issues with her knee. Now 4 strong, we forged on into the mist hoping we were heading in the right direction. In short order we found ourselves cliffed out on Burwell's NNE Ridge, wondering what was up with the GPX track Amy had downloaded on her phone. The terrain here is bushy polished granite, and for us also mighty slippery thanks to the mist - not the time nor place to test the traction of our outsoles! Backtracking a bit, we zig-zagged down along heather ledges on the left (west) side of the ridge, before picking up a faint trail that led easily to the saddle. Basically, drop left off the ridge as it begins to get steeper and descend to a large bench that reconnects with the ridge below the troublesome cliffs.
With the fog showing no signs of lifting, we made our way up the opposite side of the saddle, now in dense forest. Crossed a talus slope or two before locating the trail again as it continues up steeply on the north side of Cathedral's West Ridge (some exposure). This we followed to the broad crest, which we followed easily weaving in and out of alternating bushy and rocky bits with some occasional hands-on scrambling, eventually reaching the trio of radio repeater dildos perched there on the summit. No views, courtesy of the stubborn fog, despite our waiting around for ~30 minutes in hopes of an improvement. Alas, the day was getting away from us and we had a long way to go to get back to camp and then back home! Sun finally made an appearance as we started back up of opposite side of the saddle, with the last of the clouds lifting off Cathedral by the time we reached the top of Burwell. Argh!! Then back to camp where we reluctantly packed up for a suffer-fest of a hike down to the trailway, returning to the cars just before dark for a whopping 15-hour day! A worthy objective yes, but ain't no way I'm coming back for the views that we missed!