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Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Sasin/Pretty Peak - NNE Ridge, April 2021
Sasin Peak, also known as Pretty Peak, is a somewhat obscure summit located near the community of Harrison Mills in the Fraser Valley. A report posted last winter to one of the local FB hiking groups I follow piqued my curiosity: good access, reasonable vert and mileage (depending on how high one can drive), ideal in winter or spring, and best of all great views overlooking the Fraser Valley...sign me up! I've not had the best luck with the views on my Fraser Valley hikes lately - Cheam Peak, Sumas Mountain, Vedder Mountain - all socked-in, so I was really looking forward to changing that.
Proceeding up the logging spur off the Chehalis FSR in my truck, I drove as high as I felt comfortable with summer tires and all, stopping at a landing with about an inch of snow on the ground. Continued up the road now on foot, soon running into continuous snow which quickly became deep enough to warrant snowshoes. Up past a switchback, then another long straightaway in the shade before rounding a corner to be greeted by the welcoming warmth of the sun. Kept going until reaching the base of a large clear-cut area on the east side of a broad ridge. Booted up this to reach a line of trees, thinking to myself that this pitch would have made for a nice ski descent with the cold dry powder I found up there at the time. Ducked into the trees atop the cut block and following the occasional shag of flagging made my way up along the ridge.
Fairly easy going now with the occasional steep, snowy step to contend with. Towards the end, the route traverses the peak's east slopes before turning up for a final steep grind up deep powder to the flat summit area. Unfortunately, the scattered clouds from earlier in the morning didn't dissipate as I had hoped, but thankfully remained above the summit of Sasin. While the summits of the higher Cheam Range peaks were obscured, the elusive Fraser Valley views I was ultimately after were not. Great perspective on the Harrison-Fraser confluence and Harrison Mills peninsula, the Chilliwack plains and the Sumas Prairie from up there. Well worth the effort and a bit of a hidden gem, especially on a cold, late-winter day with a deep snowpack!
Made tracks for Mount Rohr as my debut ski tour off the Duffey. Under favorable snow conditions, this is a relatively straightforward outing leading to a high and rewarding summit. As with most tours in the region, the zone doesn't come into shape until around midwinter when the snowpack is deep and allows for unimpeded travel into the alpine. Been out this way previously, climbing Mount Marriot back in July of '18, following the same early part of the approach to Rohr. Except this time, I'd be skinning from the highway to the trailhead and beyond. As I feared, Agata ducked out early and left me to fend for myself, making my way to a small basin where most of the tracks turned up and right towards Rohr Lake. Following a well-established skin track, I proceeded up a headwall, soon reaching the lake nestled at the mouth of a scenic alpine valley WNW of the peak. From there it was simply a matter of following the skin track up into said valley, eventually spotting those responsible for the track in the large basin below Rohr's West Face. I was relieved to see untouched slopes all 'round. Fresh tracks for the descent were guaranteed!
In hot pursuit of the party ahead, I followed their tracks up and left (north) to finish via the NW Ridge to the summit proper. Stellar views from up there of course, especially of the Joffre Group! Took a group photo of the party and let them enjoy the descent without the pressure of an impatient knuckle dragger bearing down on them. Having hung back long enough, I dropped-in on the obvious NW-trending pitch off the summit. When the grade eased back, I traversed left across a wide bench before turning back right for a final glorious descent on a large convex slope into the same basin where I first spotted the other party. Made sure to tuck the arms sliding into my turns for the finale as I now had myself an audience! As always, the fun was over with far too quickly and with more time I'd have gone back up for another lap. But not today, so switched to touring mode and followed the skin track back to Rohr Lake and down into the small basin below. Noticed some ski tracks traversing left well above the approach track here and so switched back to shred mode for an adventurous rip through some trees and a final avalanche swath to intersect with the main skin track. Back to the highway soon after, and THAT as they say was THAT! Listen carefully and you can still Hear Me Rohr down from the summit!
Teamed up with Bryant and friends for a much-anticipated tour of Mount Price. I've hiked the Rubble Creek Trail 4 or 5 times now, but only once to Garibaldi Lake and that was way back in '00. A return visit was clearly long overdue! As a ski tour, Price is an obvious choice and a classic one at that. A 9-kilometer hike and skin up the trail leads to the mesmerizing expanse of frozen Garibaldi Lake with a panorama of peaks and glaciers visible beyond the opposite shoreline. From there we followed the route taken by the summer trail, now obviously buried under the snow, eventually gaining the steep North Ridge of Clinker Peak's east summit. From there, we traversed to a broad saddle southwest of Price proper before completing the short ascent to the large summit plateau. Lotsa oohing and aahing, high fives and congratulations ensued. Cut our summit stay short as high clouds were slowly advancing and we wanted to make the most of the still-good visibility.
Clicked/strapped-in and descended wind-affected snow to the saddle. Now with Mount Garibaldi to our backs and Garibaldi Lake before us, we dove in for ~1600-ft of bottomless pow down the money pitch on Price's north slope. Hell yeah! Back at the lakeshore, skins on and a long trek across the lake to intersect with the trail and return the way we came. Um, well...not exactly. Conditions seemed primed for it, so what the heck, why not take a shortcut and ski The Barrier as well! Snow wasn't the best here, but sure beats the horror of splitboard-skiing that icy trail in its entirety! A fitting finish to most excellent day on the so-called Price Is Right Tour!
Had myself a lovely birthday hike out to Saint Marks on a beautifully sunny mid-winter day. Second time for me, the previous one being on an overcast day in October a couple years back. This is a justifiably popular hike starting from the Cypress Mountain base area, a mere 25 minute drive from my house. Truth be told, I had the intention of carrying on and bagging Unnecessary Mountain, but the icy snow conditions beyond Saint Marks warranted spikes or even crampons which I unfortunately didn't think would be necessary and so left at home. Called it and instead enjoyed a nice long break checking out St. Marks' various viewpoints and tagging the actual summit, itself just a nondescript bump in the trees a few paces east of the trail. The views looking out over Howe Sound, panning south-to-north from Bowen Island to the Tantalus Range are of course legendary and the main reason for this hike's popularity. Lesser known perhaps are the views from the other side of the crest that include The Lions, Cathedral Mountain and Meslilloet Mountain to name a few. With the sun beginning to wane and having gotten my fill exploring every nook and cranny up there, birthday beers started to preoccupy my mind and so I started down the cattle trail back to the parking area. Should it be necessary for me to make another attempt at Unnecessary, I think I'll try something new and take the direct trail from Lions Bay instead.
Taking advantage of a spell of nice weather, the high snow line and absence of POW, we set out for a day hike up Mount Saint Benedict. This is another great year-round objective in an area which I refer to as the uplands of Mission District. The peak lies across Stave Lake from Mount Crickmer which I bike'n hiked in Spring '20. Due to the high snow line, we were able to drive the Lost Murdo Creek FSR several km's to where we were stopped by a water bar. Had we driven the truck, we could have continued up the snow-free road to the upper trailhead. Water bars aside, the road was reasonably SUV'able otherwise.
Didn't encounter snow until shortly before McKay Lake, after which it was all snow the rest of the way to the summit. There are orange diamonds on the trees marking the trail and it wasn't long before we found ourselves on an open bench in the sun contemplating the peak's steep north face. Starting from the west side of the peak, the trail essentially corkscrews around the north side before finishing with a short, steep pitch up the east slope to the summit plateau. We enjoyed pleasant views of Mount Robie Reed, Mount Judge Howay, Stave Lake, the Golden Ears range and Fraser Valley from up top. We heard what sounded like a helicopter flying overhead as we were contouring around the lake earlier that morning. It seems to have landed on the summit as we could see the imprint of the skids in the snow up there. Curious... Headed back down after a quick bite to eat as a cold wind was making us shiver. Back to the car without incident, making a short detour to check out nearby Cascade Falls on the drive home. All-in-all, a fine little outing with good access, great views, a pretty lake and a stunning waterfall to round out the day.