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Sunday, December 11, 2022
Anif Peak - via Ray Creek, February 2022
A relatively popular ski and snowshoe objective in the near backcountry of Squamish, Anif Peak is a good choice for those seeking a winter summit with excellent views but without the need for driving very far. Clocking in at about 16 km round trip and ~4000 ft of gain, depending on where one parks, the route is mostly a FSR hike followed by a series of steep steps up from a col to reach a short but aesthetic quasi snow arete for the finish. Approached via a rough road that branches right off Mamquam FSR about 3 km past the signed Stawamus FSR junction, the crux of the outing seems to be how high one can drive before being stopped by snow. For me, this happened shortly after the very first switchback, a scant four tenths of a kilometer from the main road.
It is a rather uninteresting plod until reaching a large clearcut area on the broad NW Slopes of Mount Mulligan and from where an unexpectedly expansive vista of the Squamish Valley and peaks to the west and north comes into view. From here it's just a short walk to the headwaters of Ray Creek, where the road finally ends. From there, a short steep pitch leads up a headwall to reach the Mulligan-Anif Col. Mulligan bound parties will want to turn left here, but as I had no interest in its lower treed summit, I turned right towards Anif instead. As mentioned, a series of steep steps punctuate Anif's lower NE ridge, ending finally at a sharp crest with the true summit at its southern end. A gaggle of hikers was already up there as I crested the ridge and so waited for them to vacate the area before proceeding to the highpoint. Pretty darn good views for such an otherwise lowly peak! Great perspective on the Mountain Lake area and Sky Pilot Group to the south, Sedgewick and the Tantalus Range to the west, northwest up the Squamish Valley with icefields and peaks on the Ashlu-Squamish Divide beyond, Garibaldi and Mamquam to the northeast, and finally the Seed Peak Group and Meslilloet to the east and southeast. Reasonable stats, fun finish, great views, short drive - can't ask for much more!
Cartmell Peak - Cartmell Peak Trail, February 2022
High pressure having returned to the South Coast combined with a lack of recent snowfall; we postponed plans for "slackcountry" touring in favor of snowshoeing up something we hadn't yet been to. Never been to Sasquatch Mountain Resort-a small ski hill north of Chilliwack formerly known as Hemlock Valley-but something there piqued my interest, and it had nothing to do with shredding the slopes! With good access from the resort base area and impressive views overlooking Harrison Lake from the west, Cartmel Peak has become an increasingly popular Winter objective. And so, on a crisp, cloudless morning in February we made the long drive up the Fraser Valley for a look-see around the 'squatch.
Having purchased our snowshoe passes, we set out along the edge of the piste just right of the main lodge towards a snowshoe trail named Old Yeller and marked with a yellow lollipop. This we followed to a three-way where we went left onto the Ridge Run Trail, now marked with an orange lollipop. Having gained the ridge crest, the trail forks again, with the right branch (green lollipop) leading to Cartmel Peak. Great views of Harrison Lake as expected, and of the surrounding peaks such as Robie Reid, Judge Howay, the Chehalis Group including Stonerabbit, Ratney and Bardeen, north towards Mount Breakenridge and the usual suspects flanking the east side of the lake such as The Old Settler and a striking thumb of rock that goes by Mount Urquart. After a good while of gawking, we retraced our steps back to the Ridge Run junction, this time taking a right and following a snowcat trail now as it follows the crest at the head of Hemlock Valley. Enjoyed great views overlooking the resort ski bowl area as well as familiar Cascadian peaks in the distance. We had toyed with the idea of bagging nearby Mount Klaudt as well, but the views from the Ridge Run Trail were much better than what Klaudt's treed summit apparently offers. Apres beers at the base area lodge made for a fitting conclusion to a fine day of 'splorin the Hemlock Valley backcountry!