Select from list below to jump to a specific area on this site.
| Latest Posts |
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Goat Mountain - Goat Ridge Trail, June 2019
Sharing the same approach as its taller and craggier neighbor Crown Mountain, Goat Mountain offers a unique perspective on the North Shore peaks as well as the urbanized expanse of the lower mainland some 4000 feet below. There's also a good overview of the Haines Valley with the Cathedral and Burwell area peaks just beyond - a place I wanted to visit sometime that summer. It all amounts to a quick and dirty getaway with great views and the option for a bit of hands-on climbing up a short gully. A good choice for those without a full day to burn or when cloudy weather persists further north in the mountains.
Hiking up from the bottom of the Grouse tram via the BCMC Trail this time, we had a good ~3,700 feet of vert ahead of us. Continuous wet snow somewhere beyond Dam Mountain slowed our travel a bit and guaranteed soaked feet by the end of the day. While there's and easier way around to the right, the wet chimney scramble added a bit of excitement to the hike, especially for Agata who recently underwent carpal tunnel surgery and endured some painful moments pulling through the moves. Resident grizzlies Grinder and Coola were out wandering about their pen once again upon our return, and the cold beer at the Chalet was by now a long-held tradition that shall never be broken!
Coquihalla Mountain - East - West Ridge Traverse, June 2019
Not 5 miles as the crow flies from Coquihalla Pass lies its namesake peak, Coquihalla Mountain. Unlike the granitic domes and peaks in the immediate vicinity of the pass however, Coquihalla Mountain is an extinct stratovolcano and therefore features rock quality of a somewhat dubious nature. Serious rock routes probably aren't as much of a draw here as are the scrambling routes on both Coquihalla and neighboring Jim Kelly. I first stumbled upon these peaks in an older ClubTread thread discussing potential candidates for inclusion in a hypothetical second edition of the Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia guidebook by Matt Gunn. While a doubt this second edition will ever see the light of day, the CT thread did pique my curiosity about a handful of peaks at least that I'd otherwise not have previously considered. Coquihalla's east-to-west ridge traverse especially seemed like an area classic that's not to be missed.
Like my Needle Peak climb in May the previous year, I timed this trip for the Spring when I expected conditions to be prime. While I may have just gotten lucky both times, this part of the far-North Cascades seems to come into condition relatively quickly, with some unavoidable snow travel on the hike in but snow-free on the forest roads and climbing routes alike. Snow in the basins surrounding the peak certainly helped expedite the return, allowing me to plunge-step and glissade steep snow slopes on the north side then working back right to where I first gained the ridge. The traverse itself is an enjoyably casual, sidewalk-in-the-sky affair climbing into and back out of several notches between three distinct summits. Exposure never felt more than moderate at most. Just before the final notch, the only way forward seemed to be by leaving the ridge to the left (south) via a tight chimney and descending until able to traverse to the final notch below the true summit. Similarly, gaining the ridge when it begins to steepen below the first "East Summit" seems to be easiest by angling up and left to a notch, then continuing out of the notch by working up along the left side of the ridge until reaching the crest proper. Straight sailing from there to the aforementioned chimney. All-in-all a worthy outing, the crux of which may be trying to buff-out the scratched paint incurred on the drive to the trailhead!
Whirlwind & Fissile - North Slope/South Ridge, May 2019
Rang in the season with a trip to Whirlwind and Fissile on the final weekend of lift operations courtesy of my Whistler Epic Pass. It should come as no mystery that as a lift-assisted ski tour, the trek over the Musical Bumps, even at this rather late stage of the snow season is about the quickest way to reach Russet Lake and beyond. The last time I ventured over the 'bumps was back in April of 2004 on the final day of the Spearhead Traverse trip I did with the 'ol crew, Eric, Jerry and Bo. Unbelievably I've not made it back past Flute up until now despite having frequented the resort every year since.
Anyway, the real motivation for this trip was to bag Overlord Mountain via the connecting ridge from Whirlwind. Essentially doing the Summer route rather than the way I came previously across the mighty Overlord Glacier itself. Alas, booting through bottomless isothermal mush high on Whirlwind and said ridge made for slow, exhausting travel and jeopardized my catching the last gondola ride down at 5 pm that day. I had no desire to walk down dirt from the bottom of Emerald and return home hours later than promised...been there, done that! So, I called it and set my sights on something a bit closer to home - Fissile's South Ridge. Despite occasionally punching through past my knees, I found the South Ridge as a snow climb to be a surprisingly aesthetic route featuring a couple short but exposed traverses passing cornices on the windward side of the ridge. Unlike the previous day, there was some smoke in the air which I feared was the beginning of yet another active Northwest fire season. The fires thankfully never materialized, in these parts at least; the smoke was supposedly from the large ones burning in Alaska at the time. While I was up on the summit a helicopter dropped in on the new Kees and Claire hut being constructed on a bench above the southwest end of Russet Lake. If you ask me, the word "hut" is a bit of a misrepresentation. Hotel might be a more accurate description! This is apparently the first of several huts to be built along the Spearhead Traverse route in the coming years. Except for the 2-person party with whom I shared accommodations in the old Himmelsbach Hut the night before, and the contractors working at the new K&C hut, there wasn't anyone else around.
Returning from Fissile, I booted back down the steepish, breakable crust slope at the Overlord's western terminus and retrieved my split for a glorious but all-too-short ride back to the hut. It was an absolute scorcher of an afternoon and I seriously thought I was going to collapse from heatstroke on the interminable skin back up from Singing Pass and again from the Oboe-Flute Saddle! Eventually made it back to the runs where an epic shitshow of well lubricated and half-naked skiers and riders alike was in full swing. It was quite comical to watch, topless ladies, bloodied knees and all. Grabbed a beer at The Roundhouse right at last call and jumped in the gondi with maybe 15 minutes to spare on the last day of normal operations for the '18-'19 season. Prost!