Last Updated: November 14, 2022


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Friday, March 22, 2019

Mount Gandalf & Aragorn - South Route, August 2018

Akin to a remote group of peaks in the heart of the Buckindy Range of the North Cascades, the naming here follows an obvious Lord of the Rings theme. However, unlike my earlier exploits in which I only ever visited outliers of the range such as Mount Chaval, Snowking Mountain and Green Mountain, my feet (and hands) have touched the tippy tops of these two rock heaps. Well, almost. I chickened-out at the au cheval/arete section of Gandalf's exposed summit boulder a mere handful of feet below the summit proper. I suspect most that come this way are similarly repelled, no Orc's required. Fortunately, attaining the top of slightly higher Mount Aragorn is much less intimidating, albeit more difficult given that it's a boulder problem.

Anyway, the peaks here are predominantly composed of weathered granitic rock and have a distinctly "east-of-the-crest" feel. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the Pasayten Wilderness in the Northeastern Cascades of Washington. Except in place of long abandoned mining cabins, the VOC's lovely Brian Waddington Hut located on the west shore of Long Lake makes for a perfect base from which to explore the area. Nearby Mount Shadowfax also appears to be a popular objective, making for a neat trifecta easily doable in a day from the hut. Note that some maps have Gandalf and Shadowfax inadvertently switched. And beware the blood suckers along Phelix Creek Branch FSR, should you attempt to outrun them most of the way up to the trailhead as I did! Finally, a refreshing dip in nearby Birkenhead Lake and/or Anderson Lake is highly recommended following a sweaty, buggy couple days of rambling in the so-called Tolkien Group.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Mount Weart - Southeast Ridge, July 2018

Weart. An attractive mountain with an unpretentious name. Climbable as a somewhat long day trip, or as a casual overnighter with a camp at beautiful Wedgemount Lake, Weart is one of the classic peaks in the Whistler area. It is directly opposite majestic Wedge Mountain, which at 9488 feet is the highest in Garibaldi Provincial Park. It offers an excellent perspective on the stunning Wedgemount Glacier flanking Wedge's North Face, not to mention its much larger cousin, Weart Glacier. The Southeast Ridge I followed makes for an aesthetic and easy scramble, save for a bit of tedious boulder hopping up from the current Wedgemount Glacier terminus. The glacier has retreated dramatically in recent times and its snout now floats in a smaller lake/pond well back from its previous terminus in Wedgemount Lake.

An exposed ridge traverse from the summit over to Mount Cook, named the Armchair Traverse after the small glacier cradled in the cirque beneath the two peaks also appears to be a reasonably popular objective. A dusting of fresh snow on the upper mountain and horribly loose rock (initially at least), convinced me not to follow the fast-moving traverse-bound twosome just ahead of me. Either way, an awesome panorama of glaciated peaks to the south that include the Spearhead Range, McBride Range and even a glimpse of the very northern tip of Harrison Lake help to make Weart a memorable experience.

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