Wedge Mountain - Wedge Couloir, May 2003
Wedge Mountain as seen from the south near Decker Mountain.

Paul Cookson, John Chapman, Dave Carpenter and I all set out to climb the majestic Wedge Mountain. Clearly visible from the north end of Whistler Village, and being the tallest peak (9,527 ft) in BC's Garibaldi Provincial Park, Wedge Mountain (in addition to Mt. Garibaldi itself), is the obvious peak in the area to bag.

Similar to last year's climb of Mount Garibaldi, our trip to Wedge Mountain was delayed a week due an unfavorable weather forecast. A week later than originally planned, we found ourselves driving the Sea-to-Sky Highway under sunny skies. As always, the views of the Tantalus Range peaks north of Squamish were tantalizing. One of these days I'll go there and climb Alpha or Serratus or Tantalus...but not this time.

Paul pulled off the highway about six miles north of Whistler village. He crossed some railroad tracks, passed over the Green River and drove the Chevy Impala he had rented, up the 3 or 4 miles of logging road to the trailhead (left at a junction after crossing river and again right uphill at next fork). Again, just like the rough Brohm Ridge jeep road on Garibaldi, we passengers would have to step out of the car and help clear the water bars of potentially damaging rocks (flashbacks of a previous trip to Snowking Mountain come to mind) so that Paul could drive on to the next impediment. We made it to the trailhead with a minimum of scrapes and bumps, but hey...it's a rental, and for $30/weekend, a damn cheap one too! (Photos: DC, SV)

Click thumbnails below to enlarge...
Nearing Wedgemount Lake
The trail switchbacks up through forest before leveling off for a mile or so. It then reaches a steep slope leading up to Wedgemount Lake. Dave approaches a col above the lake minutes after a small hail shower rained down on us.
Wedgemount Hut
John nears Wedgemount Hut. We expected the hut to be crowded, but instead found it deserted. Why exactly did I schlepp the tent all the way up here again?
Armchair Glacier
Looking up at the Armchair Glacier and the Weart summits from the hut.

That evening we shared the hut with another party, a solo-climber. Clouds began to build and shroud the summit. We hoped this would be a passing disturbance.
Early morning on Wedge Glacier
John, close on my heels on the Wedge Glacier. Paul and Dave follow a short distance behind.

We awoke around 5am that next morning, ate, packed and set out across the frozen Wedgemount Lake towards the Wedge Glacier. Our solo-climber friend departed for the NE Arete about an hour ahead of us. I entertained the notion of joining him.
Low in couloir
We descended down the backside of the Wedge-Parkhurst Col, aiming for a prominent couloir. I took the lead and began kicking steps though the deep, unconsolidated snow that fans out below the couloir (40 - 45 degrees on average).
Paul climbs couloir
Paul kicks the final steps up to where the couloir meets the West Ridge.
Near top of couloir
Nearing the top of the couloir.
Topping out on West Ridge
Paul tops out on the West Ridge with views over Whistler Valley behind him.
Resting on West Ridge
We rest briefly before completing the short slog to the summit. Spearhead Range in background.
Mount Davidson and more
Mount Davidson (left) and Castle Towers w/ Mt. Garibaldi peeking from behind, as seen from the West Ridge.
View to southwest
Looking out to the southwest towards the Tantalus Range.
Final slog to summit
The final slog to the summit.
Gapers on summit
Another superb day on a summit in the coast range. Is it always like this out here? John had minutes to burn on his cell phone. The Cellular reception was fortunately very good.
Northeast view
Looking to the northeast, over the massive Wedge Glacier, towards the Joffre Group.
Lesser Wedge and beyond
Lesser Wedge with Lilooet River Valley breaking the skyline in distance.
Wedge Creek and beyond
Wedge Creek, Decker Mountain and Mount Garibaldi peeking just above Castle Towers in background.
NE Arete
Looking over the classic NE Arete towards the Weart summits. I wished I had done some route research prior to this climb and climbed the NE Arete instead.

We lounged on the summit for maybe half-an-hour. During this time, we witnessed cumulus clouds materialize out of thin air and begin to fill the valleys below us. I guess the mountains and intense sun conspire to create their own weather, in this case afternoon thunderclouds. We descended from the summit (myself taking the West Ridge descent while the others took the Wedge Couloir), avoiding the lower Wedge Glacier, and instead crossing slopes directly beneath Parkhurst Mountain. Ski tracks were evident. Judging by the terrain and perfect spring corn, this trip to Wedge Mountain would have been an ideal ski tour.
Route detail
Ascent route in red, descent in blue. Image lifted from Bivouac.com.

As we approached the hut, dark, ominous clouds threatened from across the valley. While we were packing, the wind picked up as snow and hail blew sideways. Hard to imagine it was perfectly calm and sunny no more than ten minutes ago. We waited out the weather for a while. It didn't let up. We eventually left the relative comfort of the hut for the blizzard outside. Once down in the trees the weather mellowed; and back at the car we again had sunshine.

Wedge Couloir - an easy but rewarding climb with outstanding views and funky weather (for us). I might have to return here one day to climb the NE Arete. This hut camping business I can also definitely get used to!
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