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Wednesday, May 18, 2023
Leading Peak - South Ridge (Anvil Island), June 2022
Leading Peak on Anvil Island has long captured my imagination, mainly since it sits right in the middle of Howe Sound and is impossible to miss driving the Sea-to-Sky between Horseshoe Bay and Squamish. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that at a certain time of day motoring northbound along said highway one may notice a bright flash or reflection of some sort emanating from the summit. It's as if there's a beacon up there calling out to all peakbaggers to come explore! Coincidentally, Leading Peak has also seen a recent surge in popularity thanks to its inclusion in the annual North Shore hiking brouhaha known as Bagger Challenge. Fast forward to June 2022, and the timing was right for me to join 6 other baggers in sharing the cost of the boat shuttle to and from the island and finally hike to the peak.
Disembarking on the private dock owned by the Daybreak Point Bible Camp, we were a bit concerned we'd be shooed away not having gotten their approval prior to our arrival. The "shooing" thankfully never materialized, and after a ceremonial dipping of the toes in the water by the 'Challenge devotees (extra points for a "water-bag"), we set out for Leading. While there are at least a couple established trails to the peak from the south, the route generally parallels Champside Creek reaching a small lake by the same name. Along the way are numerous steep sections aided by ropes and a couple bluffs with views such as the so-called "White Spot". After the lake, the trail descends a bit to reach a forested saddle before continuing back up along the left (west) side of the summit block. The final scramble contours around to the north side of the 'block and follows the north ridge to reach the top.
Wowzers! Heck of a view from up there! Mount Garibaldi dominates the view to the north, rising above the far end of a ridiculously turquoise-hued Howe Sound. Gambier, Bowen, and smaller islands dot the sound's mouth to the north and east, with the HS Crest peaks flanking the east shore. Fantastic! Oh, and surprise, the source of that reflection appears to be a solar panel. Back down to the dock just in time for our pickup, having been stopped for a brief check-in by the bible camp folks to register our names for whatever purpose they need that for. In summary, for a subalpine island peak with outstanding views, Leading does not disappoint!
Grouse "Slogathon" - Dam, Little Goat & T-bird Ridge, May 2022
Nice weather was too good to pass up, despite the first significant warm-up of Spring and attendant avi risk. Kept it local and spent a day tootling about in the relatively safe confines of the Grouse Mountain backcountry. No doggo this time, partly because I opted for the lazy man's Sky Ride upload, resident discount, and all. Out past the groomed runs and then onto the snowshoe track up 'n' over Dam Mountain and Little Goat Mountain being that they were on the way, and I hadn't been up either of those two bumps yet. Had designs on Beauty Peak (AKA West Crown), as it's hard not to notice this off-limits yet aesthetic peaklet located on the edge of the Capilano Watershed. Reached the point from where I would have to descend steeply into the abyss to reach Crown Pass en route to Beauty. Snow here was deep and heavy with questionable stability, and I had been breaking trail since leaving Dam. "Yeah nah" as my mates Down Under would say!
Made my way over to another nearby bump that I'd not been up to yet instead - Thunderbird Ridge. More snowshoe wallowing, my boots soaking wet inside by the time I got there. Found the views of nearby peaks, the city and beyond a bit different and quite agreeable from here, despite having transited the area hitherto on the way to Crown and Goat. Excellent visibility to the south towards the Strait of Georgia with Gulf Islands and San Juans in distance as well. No cigar but another enjoyable day in the ol' backyard nonetheless!
Slalok Mountain - Matier/Stonecrop Glacier touring, April 2022
The lower of the three giants ringing the Matier Glacier icecap, Slalok Mountain is a trophy objective overlooking the incredibly scenic and deservedly popular Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. I'd already bagged both Matier and Joffre and retreated from Slalok's West Ridge/Face route on a previous attempt; a rematch was all but a certainty. Attempt aside, I had my eye on this as a ski tour/descent for a while now after being inspired by a post on TAY several years back of a party slaying bottomless pow down the North Face AKA Stonecrop Glacier. Bryant (and friend) were of a similar opinion, and so off for the iconic Slalok we go!
Mobilized shortly after sunup the next morning following a chilly night of car camping. Made good time to the upper lake where we stopped for a bite and powered up for what came next. The route ahead was clearly laid out, a couple parties having set the skin track up the slope on the opposite side of the lake. Gained a prominent ramp at the lower edge of the face proper, then followed that up and left onto the Matier Glacier. Could see parties on Matier's NE Face route, the apron below Joffre's Aussie Coulior as well as the West Face of Spetch. Quite the alpine playground up here! Turned right aiming for the North Ridge, with somewhat steep traversing towards the end and some cornice hazard overhead. Another break once on the ridge before continuing up and contouring right towards the summit block. Out with the axes and crampons for a short pitch of rime ice to the top and just in time for the clouds to steal our views.
The twosome ahead of us had just set first tracks down the face and per the order of our arrival - a couple parties had caught up to us on the summit - I was to be the third. So very considerate! A careful turn or two down the first steep pitch to spot my line, and then let it rip, managing my sluff by working skiers right across the face. Epic snow, epic pitch and turns-for-days days until reaching the top of the large gully skiers right, exiting onto the slope above the lake for the finale. Conditions are everything and, on this day, they were ALL TIME! Made it to the lake before anyone else dropped in and enjoyed my own live action movie watching a mob descend the face! A round of high fives at the lake and then back to the parking lot in no time with only a brief scootch and a couple short carries to break the flow. As a "road shot" this is about as good as it gets!
Suicide Bluffs - loop via Mt. Seymour-Suicide Bluffs Trail, April 2022
Needed a short frolic in the snow with the pup without an early wakeup or long drive for that matter. Off to Seymour I go, this time to bag my last remaining named bump on the lower flanks of said peak - Suicide Bluffs. As with some of the other nearby "bumps" - Dog Mountain, Dinky Peak, De Pencier Bluff, Mystery Peak and Brockton Point - this is just another subalpine rocky outcrop with views over Burrard Inlet, downtown and beyond. Seems a bit contrived naming all these little bits of nothing if you ask me, but hey it's something to do and no more than 20 minutes from my front door, and no there's absolutely nothing suicidal about it!
There are a couple ways to approach the 'bluffs, either via Dog Mountain or simply following the lower Mount Seymour Trail then forking left onto the SAR Cabin Trail as I did. Checked out the so-called SAR Cabin and enjoyed my first views of the day before backtracking a bit and continuing on. Following tracks, I contoured around the west side of Suicide Bluffs and kicked steps up a short steep pitch to reach the top. Enjoyed the views and chatted with another up there before heading back east along the ridge. Followed the established Suicide Bluff Route past Hidden Lake to eventually intersect the Mount Seymour Trail, reaching the parking lot shortly thereafter. Got some outside time, good views and Pepper got to romp in the snow - a win for all!
Musical Bumps - Oboe Summit Slackcountry, March 2022
Out to the zone around the middle "bump" a few times in March for some chill laps in familiar surroundings. Passed through the area a few times over the years to and from other objectives, but never made the 'bumps the destination up until now. Enjoyable Spring corn descents on the SE Faces of Flute and Oboe to Singing Pass. Had designs on riding down the infamous Cowboy Ridge, but time, ambition and changing snow conditions got the better of us. Either way, a good option for those in search of an easy day in the Whistler "slackcountry" and something a bit removed from the