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I like being outside if it's nice out. This includes mountain biking, trail running, sailing, climbing, skiing and much more. If you're going on a fun adventure, let me know!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Ultimate Everything

Aug 16, 2010

I was away working during the best days of summer in Squamish, but I did manage to squeeze in a few good days near the end of August. Lisa and I climbed up the new start to the Calculus Crack, which is way better than the old jungle climb through the trees. And then up the South Arete and onto the Ultimate Everything. I miss that feeling of sunny granite.

A few days later I climbed up what is likely the easiest combination of routes up the Chief, first going up the re-cleaned Slab Alley, and the new Squamish Buttface.

The first couple pitches aren't very interesting, but it gets better once you're on the slabs and out of the forest.

The scenic traverse, with views high above Howe Sound. I was glad I took the day off and didn't sit inside an office on this beautifully sunny day.


Lisa on the steep juggy dyke pitch. The apron sure looks flat from up here.

Lisa on the final traverse pitch, it's a tad pumpy going underneath the roof.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Downton South to Rohr Traverse

Sept 4-6, 2010

Over the Labour day long weekend, a group of friends and I traversed ridges, meadows and valleys from the south branch of Downton Creek, through Twin Lakes, through the Hurley Silver mine area, and finally out to Rohr Lake. Amongst my trip partners, it's always hard to keep everybody happy. Some of us have been everywhere, some of us have only been to the really obscure places, some of us want to go and visit the obscure places, and some of us have forgotten where we've gone. And some of us are just content to be outside in the mountains. Our friend Robin had done a complete traverse of the Cayoosh Range many summers ago. Unfortunately we only had time for a short section of that line. This was our approximate route.

We left Vancouver early Saturday morning, left one vehicle at the north end of Duffey Lake, and drove the other vehicle up the Downton Creek south branch, which has some waterbars in the last kilometre. We left the first vehicle at the bottom of the Hurley Silver mine road because we didn't realize we could make it to Rohr on this trip, until partway through the first day. As soon we we got out of the car, I realized that I left a significant chunk of my food back in the other vehicle, including most of my lunches and snacks. A few minutes later, Tim realized that he also left behind his jar of peanut butter at home. For most people, this wouldn't be a problem since they would supplement it with many crackers and other snacks for lunch. But Tim is a highly efficient mountain climbing machine that runs only on pure peanut butter. Tim realized after a few trips that a spoon is a far more effective medium than crackers for delivering calorie-packed peanut butter into one's mouth.

The hard work began right away, starting with a steep cutblock, and then a long plod up scree to the ridge on Peak 2560. I'm not sure if it was something I ate for breakfast that morning, or maybe it was just my general enthusiasm for being back outside in the mountains after a summer of inactivity, but I felt like I had a rocket propelling me up the hills.

Looking up at the headwaters of Downton Creek south.

Tim on the way up to Peak 2560. We parked somewhere down there.

Views north towards Seton Peak. Many more ridges above Downton Creek.

Chris hiking above Melvin Creek after a thunderstorm

To get to Twin Lakes, we dropped down to a few lakes below Peak 2560 to bypass a knife edged ridge, and then contoured across that ridge until the terrain mellowed out to more ramble-friendly terrain. On the way to Twin Lakes, we were plastered by snow and hail from the thunderstorms passing through the region. Usually I try to avoid trips when the weather isn't great. But you only get that really special lightning right when the weather changes.


The gang above Melvin Creek. What a neat place! Definitely worth another visit.


We stopped frequently, to admire the meadows below in Melvin Creek where a ski resort was once planned, and gazed out at the mountains beyond and thought of future trips. I didn't enjoy the breaks too much, since it would mean that I would have to eat my snacks. This will probably become known as the trip where I mooched food off everybody. Chris and I worked out a nice deal where I swapped my excess water for his chocolate covered almonds.

The gang on the final ridge leading to Twin Lakes .

Twin Lakes is a very neat spot, and is located at the confluence of four different ridge systems. We camped at the scenic upper lake, and spent the evening trying to scramble up Crystal and Elliot Peak. A few years ago, Fred Robin and I did a very casual two day trip here where we hiked up through the Barkley valley and scrambled up both of those peaks in fine summer weather.

Evan, Greta, Tim and I had a different experience this time. I was near the top of the snow patch, when I heard a distinct buzzing sound on my iceaxe. The weather had been closing in on us this whole time, but we were all hoping that maybe this storm cell would pass through us. I looked up the slope towards Tim, who must have heard the thunder crashing around us, and the hail gaining speed towards us. Evan Greta and I decided that we had enough of getting wet up there, and made a hasty descent back towards our tents. Tim continued on towards the summit, and he later told us that he almost made it to the top, but decided to wait below it for a few minutes to see what the weather was doing. A few minutes later, Tim saw a few bolts of lightning strike the summit, and that was his cue to turn around.

Tim taking a short break at our camp at the upper lake, wishing he had some peanut butter.


Looking down at the lower lake, taken from the ridge up towards Crystal Peak.

Evan, Tim and Greta walking back towards our camp to retrieve our ice axes for the route up Elliott Peak.

Evan descending down towards safety. The flashes of lightning around us motivated us to get down quickly.

Thunderstorms combined with sunsets is a combination I sometimes dream of.



Both mornings on this trip shared a common theme. Partially frozen water, snow covered tents, and cold fingers. Our route on the second day took us down through the flower-covered meadows of Barkley Valley, and then up on a small lake near the headwaters of Elliott Creek. From the lake, we ascended a rocky pass to gain a ridge on the east side of Common Johnny Creek, which we then followed the rest of the way towards Mount Rohr. Easy routefinding right?

Frozen toes the next morning.

Descending down into the Barkley Valley.

The section through the Hurley Silver mine basin offered excellent hands in pocket ridge rambling. We were most worried about the ridge between Peak 7400 and Mount Rohr. I remember reading a trip report where the author said the ridge was recommended and non-technical, so I tried my best to convince the others that it would work out. Our other options were to camp in the Hurley Silver mine basin if the weather turned foul, or to drop some significant elevation down into the headwaters of Common Johnny Creek to bypass the jagged roller coaster ridge. Part way through the ridge, when it looked like things might be going too slow for us to reach Mount Rohr, I suggested that there would only be three more sections of scrambling on the ridge. As it turned out, there were only one or two tricky sections along the entire ridge, and the rest of the route was on a well defined goat path. It was a blast to be on a ridge, with a steep dropoff on one side down to Duffey Lake, and rocky cliffs down to meadows on the other side. To quote Peter Croft, "when you do a ridge traverse, it's like being on a summit all day long." Of course this was just a stroll compared to the ridges that he's climbed. We stumbled into camp at the heart-shape lake on the east side of Rohr, only twelve hours after leaving Twin Lakes that morning.

Checking the map to figure out how far we had to go, and options if the weather turned foul.

Ridge rambling along the goat path, and Duffey Lake below.

On the third morning, it snowed again. It could only be described as a whitebird morning, which changed into a greybird day. I tried to convince Krystil that it was a beautiful morning outside, given that Greta and I had just seen a small blue patch amongst the low clouds. Krystil unzipped her tent door, looked outside, and said, "you guys are so funny, it's not nice outside." And crawled back into her warm sleeping bag. Instead of going over the summit of Mount Rohr as planned, we contoured north into the headwaters of Halymore Creek and then back over a pass to drop into the meadows below the summit. The summit was socked in, and it was looked much more wintery up there.

Not quite ready to leave the comforts of a warm sleeping bag.

Chris warming up his lighter on a frosty morning.

Once we picked up the summer trail, Tim and Chris went ahead, since they still had to hitchhike up the road to retrieve the cars. The rest of us hung back with Evan, who tweaked his knee the previous evening. A few straps, and one inflated thermarest around his knee eased the walk out. While hiking down the trail, Krystil and Greta started talking about their favourite recipes, one was about a really tasty sandwich, and another was for paplova. I started walking faster, knowing that there were blueberries down on the logging road, and I could only ask them to stop talking about food, as it was making me too hungry. We were on the road by early afternoon, and waited around at the salt shed for the cars to arrived. We looked at the map again, looking at exactly where we were, and I thought to myself how this was going to be a very nice line on my map wall.

Chris hiking out along the Rohr trail

Evan and Tim hiking along along the Rohr trail. Soon this will be covered in snow and we'll be skiing again!

DSC_0072Despite the setback, Evan had a speedy recovery and both him and Greta rode in the Whistler GranFondo the following next weekend!

More photos at Flickr

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Corrie Creek Horsehoe

Sept 1, 2010

Robin, Mark, Andre, Steve and I did an awesome horsehoe of Corrie Creek, heading up the Helm Glacier and then back north along Corrie Peak before dropping east to Corrie Lake. The day begins with gradual switchbacks, and before long you're up in the alpine and enjoying endless rambling for a kilometres along the ridge from Gentian to the end of Corrie. Another highly recommended daytrip!
I've never been in this part of the park before. We were originally planning to visit a small pond on the north shore due to a crappy weather forecast, but quickly changed plans when the forecast called for sun and clouds. There's just something about mountains and alpine that's alot sexier than visiting a little pond in a forested basin. The flower displays up at Helm meadows were quite spectacular for September. Definitely has something to do with the high snowpack in June and July.

The Black Tusk, I'd like to go up there with all the crowds one day, and wait in line to scramble up the chimney, but I seem to always make circles around the more popular and classic destinations. There are still some snow patches here, which might be good for those seeking October turns...

Robin and Mark contouring around the Cinder Cone. The Helm Glacier is visibly in the distance. Once a upon a time it was bigger, but now it's hardly more than a snowfield.

Some of the terrain on this trip reminded alot of the South Chicoltins. Maybe next summer I should just spend a week or two doing a summer traverse through Garibaldi Park instead of making the long drive up to the Chilcotins.

Up on the mellow Helm Glacier. There are some crevasses here, but it would take quite a bit of effort to fall in one today.

Plod plod plod. Andre hiking up on the Helm Glacier.
With the constantly changing weather, and low clouds moving in and out, there were some spectacular lightning conditions making this scree ridge look far more interesting than it would otherwise.

With a view like this one, we had to stop for lunch. The scrambles route goes up the right hand skyline, while there's a snow/ice climb up the north face of Castle Towers. Another trip I'd like to do would be to circumnavigate Garibaldi Lake, and climb a few peaks along the way, especially some of the more less visited ones.

An important nap time on Gentian ridge, the best cure for Onteribbl-itis and acute mountain sickness.

A very spectacular north face.

Looking back down towards a line of dead trees in Castle Creek.

After a prolonged lunch break, Robin hinted to us that we should probably keep moving if we wanted to make it back to Vancouver in time for a slideshow at his place. In the end, we rambled for too long, and didn't make it back to Vancouver in time. From Gentian ridge, our route continued northeast for a few kilometres along a broad ridge and over Corrie Peak, with only one section of difficulty, and otherwise classic ridge rambling.

Looking towards Corrie Peak, with Singing Pass in the background. Singing Pass is another spot I'd like to go in the summer, mostly for the good rambling and easy access.

Our descent off the summit of Corrie Peak wasn't ideal. We could have downclimbed some steep snow on either side of the ridge, but ended up going down some really loose rock to gain a snowpatch and then the ridge again. We only downclimbed for a short section, but basically if there were any holds that I didn't like, I just picked it up and tossed it away.

After a brief interruption by the loose rock getting off Corrie Peak, the ridge rambling continued, and even got better! The turquoise lake on the right is Cheakamus Lake. Maybe one day there will be a trail up Singing Creek.

Looking back at Corrie Peak and where we came down from. Not the most obvious spot if we were going up from this direction . We came down just to the right of the gendarme on the left skyline.

An enormous ridge. Perfect rambling terrain. To quote Steve, "it's the way a ridge should be"

There were an incredible amount of western anemone on this northeasterly slope. Just a perfectly intact slope of anemones.

Looking up the Cheakmus, and towards Veeocee Mountain. Canoe/bushwack approach anybody?

We followed open heathery terrain for as far north along the ridge as we could, until it was finally necessary to bushwack down towards the outflow of Corrie lake. There's a flagged "route" from the outflow to the Helm Creek trail, but it's not really a trail and whoever flagged it must have been stumbling around a lot. I get a feeling the next time I'm here, it'll be in the winter, and looking for the perfect powder runs in the trees.