Mount Sloan (BC) - Northeast Ridge, September 2008
"Hello bear, hello bear" I called out while crashing through the heavy bush. We must be getting really close to Ault Lake or at least the large clear-cut area north of the lake, I recall thinking to myself. Looking down a steep slope above a ravine, I finally got a glimpse of what lay ahead. "What's this I see?" It seemed impossible at the time, but I could see a sliver of Downton Lake and it appeared disturbingly closer than I expected it to be. More importantly, how did we end up with the lake in front of us when it should be to our left? Eli and I had been dutifully following flagging no more than 15 minutes ago. How did we screw this up? My altimeter read 5000-ft - lower than Ault Lake and possibly also below a key logging road that would lead us safely back to the car. We had maybe two hours of daylight left and were in no mood to spend a cold night clinging to a steep, bear infested brush slope.
In contrast, the hike up towards Mount Sloan's Northeast Ridge earlier that morning was much more pleasant. That said, I could have done without the 3 or 4-mile grunt up the Ault Creek Valley forest road (we were stymied by the first water bar only seconds after turning off of Hurley River FSR). We eventually stopped at the bridge over Ault Lake's outlet creek and stopped to check our beta for where to go next. Rather than following the trail towards the lake as per the guidebook, we chose to take a forest road that led away from the peak for a short distance. By doing this, we were able to easily gain the toe of the ridge and avoid the worst of the brush (or so a report on CC.com suggests). (more...)
Click here to view photos.