Last Updated: November 14, 2022


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Monday, November 14, 2022

Mount Chief Pascall - Northwest Ridge, January/April 2022

Mount Chief Pascall is a lesser member of the famous Joffre Group that includes iconic peaks such Mount Matier, Slalok Mountain and of course Joffre itself. With good access from Hwy 99, it is a popular Winter objective for ski tourers and hikers alike. The route features travel along forest roads, a steep forest grunt up to the alpine and an aesthetic ridge finished with a short steep pitch to reach the summit proper. Its north face offers what appears to be a great ski descent down into the basin and where one intersects the forest roads from earlier, making for a nifty loop tour. Like with most peaks in this area, the views are nothing short of spectacular with a great panorama of the Duffey area from Cassiope and Saxifrage, Cayoosh, Marriott, Rohr and down Cayoosh Creek Valley overlooking Duffey Lake and beyond.

Truth be told, I had a bit of an ordeal with Chief Pascall, with repeated failed attempts for one reason or another. The photos shown here are from both a January '22 attempt and subsequent success in early April '22. In January I was stymied by unexpectedly firm snow on an exposed traverse just below the summit. I was wearing my snowboarding boots with spikes and still got zero purchase. Didn't fancy an uncontrolled slide a few thousand feet down into Cerise Creek, so called it and simply rode back the way I came. Better luck when I returned in April, this time coming prepared with crampons and ice axe. Snow was still quite firm in spots and the arctic wind blowing in from the east was just as strong as before. It all made for a short but satisfyingly fun mountaineering(ish) finish. As a Winter and/or early season objective, this one is deserving of classic status and is well worth the long drive and effort!

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Monday, November 7, 2022

Gin Peak - via Hanging Lake Trail, January 2022

Not to be confused with the so-called "Alcoholic Group" on the Squamish-Cheakamus Divide, a range of peaks with names such as Brandywine Mountain, Keg Peak and Mount Brew; nearby Gin Peak and its lesser neighbor Tonic continue with the area's boozy theme. Together with Sproatt, Rainbow and the Puma duo, these summits comprise the subrange sandwiched between Callaghan and Whistler valleys. With good access and well-travelled trails, the zone lends itself nicely to the short days of Winter. Approached from the groomed Nordic trails at Whistler Olympic Park, Gin in particular makes for a pleasant ski tour with excellent views of Rainbow Mountain, the Garibaldi Park giants and south down Cheakamus Valley.

Made my way over to the WOP entrance gate in time for a very civilized 9 am opening (8:30 on weekends), paying the silly entrance fee for the "privilege" to park there. Skinned-up and started navigating a maze of Nordic trails towards the Hanging Lake winter trail. As expected, the trail was icy towards the end and made for some tedious travel with splitboard. Nevertheless, I reached the lake in good time, now in total whiteout. Teamed-up with a couple guys who's splitboard tracks I had been following to this point and alternated leads up into the unknown. Topped out above the fog in short order, with a stunning in-your-face view of Rainbow Mountain to the northeast. Gained the broad summit ridge and proceeded on my own from there to tag the actual summit. Quite the winter wonderland up there with loads of ski descent options for those keen on exploring further! Didn't linger as the fog was slowly creeping upslope. Blower pow back to Hanging Lake followed by an icy sketch fest down the forest trail returning to where I started. Ice cold beer in lieu of G&T for apres to round-out a satisfying day in Callaghan Country!

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