Williams Peak

Date: Aug 1, 2022

Participants: Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3 (very steep heather, some rock scrambling)

Report: Not to be confused with the Williams Peak above Bralorne that I climbed a decade ago, we decided to make the best of a hot long weekend day to make our way to the prominent Williams Peak in the Chilliwack Valley. It’s summit pyramid is unmissable as you drive towards Chilliwack Lake but somehow I’d never managed to make an attempt on it now, probably due to the massive elevation gain serving as a ready deterrent. Nonetheless…

We set out from our car shortly before 10 and slogged our way up the steep trail and through the heat up to the ridge, which we reached in about 1:45. The heat made it feel slow, but someone had done some very recent trailwork and the trail is in excellent condition up to the ridge. Luckily the heat stayed down in the valley and we experienced much more reasonable temperatures higher up, though with the tradeoff. that there were a lot of bugs about in the forest.

The trail along the ridge hadn’t seen recent work and was somewhat bushy in places, though never bad, and we quickly made our way up to the viewpoint at the end of the ridge, reaching it in just over an hour. Here we had lunch and decided on our route down and across the bowl towards the summit pyramid.

We began our descent into the bowl at 1:15, going straight down the obvious gully down to where there was a fairly obvious ledge heading to the left. From here we contoured across the bowl, following occasional flagging, and despite reports that it was an endless boulder-fest, actually found that the boulders weren’t bad at all and were able to do much of the traverse and ascent through the little heather and shrub forests that adorn the bowl.

At the far end of the bowl is a nasty loose rock and boulder filled gully that Gunn calls a ramp. It is very loose with few solid holds, and at one point we reached a short section with almost nothing to hang on to and where everything was moving under us. Jeff made his way through it, but Nancy and I were sketched out and after losing a lot of time to indecision, I eventually elected to not proceed and rather to descent.

I started back down the ramp, and about 30 seconds into my descent decided that I should check out the heather slopes to climber’s left of the ramp. Sure enough, they are easy to walk up to the top and then traverse over to the top of the ramp. Approximately 3 minutes after giving up on the ramp and starting my descent I found myself safely on top of the ramp looking down on the others.

Long story short, don’t bother with the loose gully / ramp. Go up the heather to its left and skip the whole excitement.

On top of the ramp at about 2:45 we stopped for a quick snack then worked our way around to the south of the pyramid where there is an obvious massive heather gully that leads right to the summit. The gully has no technical difficulty and only needs hands in a few short sections, but man is it steep. There are steps in the dirt in the most part from people who came before, and so it is no problem for the sure footed, but I know many people who would have zero interest or desire to make their way up and down the gully due to the steepness. That said, it is direct, and we were on the beautiful summit at 3:25pm. Perfect temperature and clear views all around!

We began our descent a few minutes before 4pm, were down below the ramp at 4:35, across the bowl and back at the ridge viewpoint at 5:10, at the junction of the ridge trail where the real descent begins at about 6:15, and down at the car at about 7:50 with no damage done except for a badly blistered toe from the descent.

Total elevation gain was somewhere between 1,700m and 2,000m depending on whose trackers we trust, 17.8km and a total round trip time (including breaks) of nearly 10 hours. A big day, but big views! Thank you for the adventure!

Continue ReadingWilliams Peak

Valentine Lake & Saxifrage Mountain

Date: Aug 1/2, 2021

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3

Report: A last minute change of plans meant that rather than car camping Friday night and hiking in the smoke on Saturday, Brittany and I decided to leave town mid day on Sunday and take advantage of the long weekend to do our main exercise on the Monday when the smoke forecast called for better weather.

I knew very little about the access to Valentine Lake, but it turns out to be way easier and nicer to get to than I expected. We left Coquitlam just before noon, and drove up the Sea to Sky through quite dense forest fire smoke. Turning off onto Spetch Creek FSR 13km from the stop sign in Mt. Currie, the road starts out flat, then has a steep and very loose section between 1 and 2km up the road. People with 2wd vehicles really need to stop trying to go up roads like this, spinning their tires and turning a perfectly nice logging road into a mess. Past this loose section, just follow the main road up to just past 7km, where find a nice landing with a clearly marked trail starting on the right. The smoke was quite thin by this point, and we could clearly see the peaks above. Amazingly, despite the long weekend there was only a single other vehicle there, with only two people. Guess the smokein town scared everyone off…

Note that there is a new logging spur from the last couple years that heads up to the right perhaps 200m before the trailhead. This could be taken as well, as the trail passes through the trees just past the end of the clearcut. Using this spur would take off maybe 800m of walking each way, but would require a bit of a thrash through the slash to connect to the trail until a proper footbed is established.

Leaving the car minutes before 3:30, the trail briefly ascended next to Spetch Creek, before turning and ascending steeply for up to a few hundred metres of elevation. This section has a lot of minor deadfall that someone with a saw could quite easily remove, but is otherwise in great condition. If you see this, be a good citizen and lug a saw or chainsaw up the first 2km with you ūüôā

Above the steep bit, the remaining 4km or so to the lake ascends gently through very pleasant meadows (when dry!) and open terrain, eventually turning left at a pass and soon arriving Valentine Lake. The lake was nicer than I expected. On arriving at the lake, there is a tent pad just to the left of where you arrive and the other party was staying there, so we continued a few minutes around to the north end of the lake where there is a large flat grassy area perfect for a few tents and that has a fresh water supply via a running creek going past. I would recommend staying here rather than at the tent pad for this reason. It was 6:10 when we set our packs down, for a total ascent time of about 2:40.

We made quick time setting up camp, cooking a freeze dried dinner, and enjoying the sunset. By the time the sun went down the smoke had almost completely cleared. The only problem is that the bugs were absolutely atrocious. and I had forgotten my pants down at the trailhead. At least we had some bug nets to cover our upper bodies and save them a little bit…

Monday morning we woke at 6:30, cooked breakfast, and took off shortly after 7:30. The trail continues up the heather & boulder meadows for a short distance but soon peters out and we were left to find our own way up through the meadows and occasional talus fields towards the base of Saxifrage’s SE ridge, which we reached around 9:30. By this point Brittany was not feeling well and she elected to wait at a pleasant vantage point at the base of the ridge while I went to find my way up.

I took off up the ridge proper at about 9:55 and going solo made quick time. Now, Gunn’s Scrambles book says for difficulty “moderate, tricky routefinding”, and while this might technically be accurate, the route is completely out of character compared to the rest of his “moderates”. Really, it’s a proper 3rd class alpine climb.

The route involved plenty of easy 3rd class climbing on good rock, lots of minor backtracking to find ways to skirt difficulties (almost always to the left), a number of loose gullies to cross, and one somewhat exposed 3rd class mandatory downclimb to connect two ledges between the two main gullies. As I was solo, I found this quite stressful, but when I get stressed I climb fast, and I made it to the summit at 10:35. 300 metres vertical of 3rd class scrambling & routefinding in 40 minutes! Phew!

The views from the summit were great, with only a little forest fire smoke obscuring the furthest away peaks. The Place Glacier peaks were clear, as were peaks over in the Cayoosh area. Nonetheless, with Brittany waiting below I lingered only long enough to take a few photos, eat a quick snack, and set off back down again around 10:45.

Knowing the route, the way down the ridge was easy enough, and although I still did not at at like the loose gully crossings and descent I found there were decent enough holds on the rock on the far side to traverse and descend them safely. Despite one minor delay waiting for the other party up there to go through the crux downclimb I made it back to where Brittany was waiting at 11:30, for a descent time almost identical to my ascent time.

From here the ridge across to Cassiope looked like it’d be slow traverse and from our distance the ascent gully looked quite slow, and we wanted to be back in town to spend a bit of time with the kids and put them to bed, so we elected to leave Cassiope for another day and headed back down to camp. We arrived back in camp at 1pm, ate some lunch, packed up the tent, and took off around 1:40.

The descent was pleasant through the meadows, although with our sore feet the steep descent back down to the car couldn’t come soon enough. Nonetheless, we trudged onwards and made it down to the car at 3:55, for a descent time of 2 hour, 15 minutes.

Overall, this was a fantastic hike, much better than my expectation going in. The lake is a really fantastic place to camp at and can be recommended just for that. Saxifrage is definitely an interesting and exciting scramble, and can also be recommended as a worthy destination, just go in with the mindset that it’s more challenging than you’d expect from its rating as “moderate”.

Continue ReadingValentine Lake & Saxifrage Mountain

Slollicum Peak

Date: May 9, 2020

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report: Travel, work, a surgery, kids, and covid have kept my adventuring to a minimum since last spring, but the stars aligned this weekend to allow for a more significant hike to a novel destination. With a forecast of 100% sun, I browsed through my old copy of 103 hikes to look for the nearest hike that I hadn’t already done and was reminded of Slollicum Peak. Slollicum met my criteria of somewhere that seemed safe, was new, and where I strongly suspected we wouldn’t run into any other people all day.

Slollicum Peak is above the east side of Harrison Lake and features an old Sev Heiberg trail up to its summit. My dad and a friend had done the trail perhaps 10 years ago and told me about an overgrown logging road and rough route up to the summit, so I was expecting to find an overgrown trail in poor condition up to snow line and then to wander via our own route up to the summit. What I was surprised to discover was that the logging road sections of trail were completely clear and the trail itself is in tip-top shape and incredibly well marked.

The first crux of the trip was finding the trailhead. Recent logging in the area has added a couple of junctions to the road. To find the trailhead, turn off of Harrison East FSR at 4.8km onto Slollicum FSR, then turn left at the first junction (~200-300m up the road), ignore the minor branch at the first switchback, and then turn left at the next junction. We parked at a clearing just before a steep section of road with a deep waterbar halfway up it, 300-400m before the end of the road (49¬į23’1.44″N, 121¬į44’20.01″W)

Leaving the car at 9am sharp, we walked up the spur right to the end where we found no trail. Consulting our GPS, we realized that the actual trailhead was a couple hundred metres back, about halfway between where we parked and the end of the road. In short, keep your eyes out when walking up this road. The trailhead itself is very well flagged, but easy to miss (49¬į23’12.37″N, 121¬į44’21.59″W)

The trail found, we started up the trail proper at 9:12 am, and followed it through the easy boulder field and forest up to the logging road above. I wonder if its possible to drive onto this upper spur, but given the lack of tire tracks the odds seem against its possibility. After 40 minutes or so up the logging road, we reached the trail proper at about 10:20am (very obvious) and set off up through the forest.

The trail is easy to follow and in great shape, and we followed it up between two creeks until we hit continuous snow at around 1050m. At this point I had thought we’d just have to find our own way, but the route is extremely well marked with fairly new markers and except for a few places where I had to hunt around to find the next marker (oddly there are far more markers visible heading downhill than uphill) we had an easy time following the route up to about 1450m.

The second crux of the trip (other than finding the trailhead) was figuring out the route after the creek crossing around 1150-1200m. After ascending a broad open ridge, the route drops down to a creek and ascends steeply up the far slope. The first few markers were easy to see, but to us it was not obvious at first that the trail traverses the fairly steep slope hard to climber’s left for ~50-100m to reach a short ramp leading once again to easier and well marked terrain.

Somewhere around 1450m we entered fairly open terrain and lost sight of the trail, but from here we were able to follow obvious open slopes leading up to the ridge just south of the summit. From reaching the ridgeline it was less than 5 minutes of hiking along the open ridge to reach the summit. There is some debate about which summit is the true summit, but my GPS topo map shows the southern summit being a few metres higher than the northern one, and so just past 1:15pm we elected to declare success at the first summit we reached. Total ascent time from car: 4 hours 15 minutes.

The views from the summit were simply spectacular. From the summit there are uninterrupted views of the Old Settler, Mt. Urquart, the Cheam range, the Chehalis groups, Mt. Breakenridge, Mt. Baker. Furthermore, the Coquihalla peaks and many peaks in Manning Park were easily identifiable in the distance.

After eating our lunch and enjoying the views, we started our descent at about 1:40pm, and given the snow were able to make great time, crossing the creek at 2:25pm and arriving back at the upper logging road at about 3:05pm. By this point the heat was becoming quite oppressive but we trudged down the road until we found the trail leading down to the car. Walking down this trail we were reminded that we were in the Fraser Valley by the constant cracks of rifle fire. Luckily neither ourselves nor our vehicle were the object of their shooting practice, and we arrived back at the car a few minutes before 4pm where we enjoyed a cold drink in the blistering sun. Total descent time: 2 hours 15 minutes.

To conclude, this trip greatly exceeded my expectations. I wouldn’t choose to do it in the height of summer when there are better opportunities for alpine meadows and scrambling, but for this time of year this was a great choice. The access was easy, the trail was in good condition, and as predicted we never encountered another person, rendering social distancing trivial.

Continue ReadingSlollicum Peak

Mt. Taylor Traverse

Date: March 2, 2019

Participants: Julie, Jeremy, Alex Le, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3

Report: It’s been years since the idea of doing a day traverse of Mt. Taylor, to ascend via Joffre Lakes and descend via the NW was first put in my head. I can’t remember who first suggested it to me, but after an unsuccessful attempt on Mt. Taylor back in early 2012 (due to fog), I knew I had no interest in once again ascending via the forest on the NW.

As luck would have it, my family was out of town for the weekend and I was able to talk Alex into a trip up to the Duffey, and he roped a couple others into joining us for our adventure.

After meeting at Mt. Currie Coffee in Pemberton, we dropped off my XTerra at the Saxifrage pull out and piled into Julie’s Forester and continued on to the Joffre Lakes parking lot. Amazingly, despite it being 9:30am and completely clear skies, there were only two other cars in the lot! Not complaining about the lack of crowds, we suited up and quickly got going, and with a well packed trail ahead of us we made good time and found ourselves standing on Upper Joffre Lake by 10:50am.

From the lake, we worked our way up the easy slopes towards the Tszil-Taylor col. As we passed the turnoff for the Tszil glacier we stopped to discuss whether we should tack an ascent of Tszil on to the day. After debate, we elected not to given that there were many open crevasses visible on the Matier and Stonecrop glaciers and not knowing the condition of the Tszil glacier, chose to continue directly up towards the Tszil-Taylor col. We stopped for lunch at a quiet flat spot in the valley before reaching the col, which we reached right at 1pm.

From the col, we could see that in theory a direct ascent of Tszil would be possible on a moderate snow slope (perhaps 35 degrees), but we could also see that the ridge directly up Taylor would not be passable on skis and that we would have to traverse around to the west side of the peak and once again chose to head straight for Taylor.

Heading around the southwest side of Taylor meant spacing ourselves out and crossing a couple of moderately exposed slopes that dropped off below us. We hustled and made it to the ridge that descends directly west off of the summit.

At this point, a party of 2 others caught up to us and decided to try to skin up a very steep snow slope, but we left our skis and booted straight up the ridge. The snow was unconsolidated in places, but in retrospect we made the right decision as we later learned that the other couple had eventually had to backtrack, leave their skis, and follow our boot track up to the summit. We reached the summit at about 2:40pm to gorgeous views all around!

The descent to our skis was quick, and we skiied down an obvious opening in the ridge to the bowl NW of the summit where I’d had to turn around 7 years ago due to lack of visibility. The snow was soft and amazing, and we continued skiing down open slopes on the left hand side of the bowl and down the boulder fields below, eventually crossing the creek at around 1300m.

Here we made our big mistake of the day. There is a faint old road that comes through the old clearcut at about 1200m and that leads back to where we left the car. However, the road does not come all the way across the clearcut.

When we hit the top of the clearcut, rather than traversing due north (skiier’s right), we skiied down some open slopes and ended up too low to hit the road. We traversed without skins for a few minutes before putting our skins on and fighting for a good 45 minutes through some of the worst trees imaginable to regain the 60m needed to get onto the road. It was a very good thing we saved time and energy by not ascending Tszil.

Once on the road, we found an old skin track, removed our skins, and were back down at the Duffey Lake Road in just a few minutes. We were back at our car just a bit before 5:30, for a total trip time of 7:45.

Thank you everyone for joining me on this trip. This trip can be highly recommended for a great mix of views, adventure, and skiing. Just don’t go too low to miss the road!

Continue ReadingMt. Taylor Traverse

Sockeye Horn and Beaujolais

Date: July 21/22, 2018

Participants: Volodymyr Koreniev, Dariia Korenieva, Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3/4

Report:¬†Beaujolais and Sockeye Horn (“Mystery Peak” in Gunn’s scrambles book) have been in my sights for years, but the opportunity to get in and have a go at them just didn’t come about.¬† However, with my parental leave coming to an end I found myself with a couple free days and made plans to head up for the weekend.

We met Friday evening and camped in a large clearing off of the Lillooet River FSR, and the next morning drove up the Hurley, then up Hope Creek FSR, and up the east branch towards the trailhead.¬† There has been recent logging in the area this year, and the bridges are in great shape.¬† Just after crossing the second, a new branch to fresh logging heads off to the right, so to reach the trailhead, continue straight / left on the older road.¬† Past this point, the road is water barred and alder is growing in from the sides, so Jeff left his CX-5 at a pullout and we all piled into my XTerra for the final 3 or so kilometres up to the trailhead.¬† The waterbars are all small, and any stock HC 4×4 will have no difficulty making it all the way up, with the aforementioned caveat that you will be getting an alder bath in places.

We left the car at about 9:55 and followed a faint path down to the first creek crossing.  The creek is not too hard to cross (note: there is a log about 30m upstream that can be crossed if desired), but Nancy slipped and soaked her boot.  Luckily the creek was only about 1 minute from the car and she was able to run back for some dry shoes and socks.

Across the first creek, we *should* have turned about 20-30 degrees to the left and wandered through a small clearing to the second creek, meeting the second creek close to where another creek flows into it from the pass above.  A trail up to the pass begins just to the left of the creek flowing into the second creek, but we only found this on the way down.  Instead, we continued straight ahead after crossing the first creek, and straight ahead after crossing the second, and spent the next 40 minutes bushwhacking up through dense bush before we found the trail just below the pass and followed it up until it crested the ridge.

From here, we followed the trail that branches off to the left, descending slightly to the pass and then rising up on the shoulder that we would contour around to get into the large valley below Beaujolais.  After an hour or so of sidehilling, we crossed a small creek and reached a relatively flat area near a small lake that appeared to be an ideal camping spot, so we set up our tents and hoped that the grey skies would clear.

A bit past 1 o’clock we were all set to go, and departed for our go at Sockeye Horn.¬† A seeming eternity of sidehilling later (in fact more like 1 hour 20 minutes), we reached the large lake below Sockeye Horn, and after a quick break, went around it and started winding our way up through the talus to join the ridge (as described in Gunn’s) book that would lead us to the summit.¬† We reached the ridge at 3:35pm, and from there continued up towards the summit.¬† The ridge is almost entirely straightforward and obvious scrambling, with the only difficult spot being moments before the summit, where you can either make an exposed step right on the ridgeline (as Volodymyr did) or descend a few metres and scramble up a slightly awkward corner to join the other route just a few metres below the summit.¬† We reached the summit at about 4:15pm to dark skies, and didn’t wait too long to start our descent because we were worried about rain.

Of course, by the time we reached the bottom of the summit ridge, the clouds were almost all gone and the blue skies filled with sun.¬† Two and a half hours later we were back at our campsite where we all enjoyed a hearty meal in the company of the worst mosquitos I’ve ever encountered in our local mountains.

The following morning, we woke modestly early and departed camp around 7:15am to head up to Beaujolais.¬† The weather was gorgeous and we were up at the col below Beaujolais by 8:15.¬† Here the scrambling started and we quickly made our way up the lower ridge towards the crux.¬† Just before the crux slab the ridge narrows and we got a good view of the slab and the narrow ridge above it.¬† Volodymyr and Jeff went ahead to check out the route and after a long period of indecision they decided that we wouldn’t be comfortable downclimbing the narrow, exposed ridge above the slab without a proper rope and so we reluctantly turned around, had a long break at the col, and went back to camp to pack up.

We left camp a bit after 11 and made good time on the sidehill traverse, finding a way to avoid some of the bushy parts we’d hit on the way in.¬† From the pass above the parking area, we followed the trail all the way down to the 2nd creek crossing, and before we knew it we were at our car a few minutes past 1pm.

Despite our non-ascent of Beaujolais, overall this was a great trip to close out my parental leave and return to work.¬† It was really fun to see a new area that I hadn’t been in before, we had a great camping location, we made it up Sockeye Horn, and of course the company was great.¬† Thank you everyone for joining me, and I look forward to getting back into the area soon with a rope to have another go at Beaujolais and perhaps to make an ascent of Canine Peak as well!

P.S. The ridge dividing Beaujolais valley from Sockeye Horn (i.e. the ridge to hiker’s right of the ridge in Gunn’s book) is reportedly an easy class 2 hike/scramble for someone looking for an easier ascent of Beaujolais


Continue ReadingSockeye Horn and Beaujolais

Hector Ferguson Lake

Date: August 27, 2017

Participants: Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1

Report:  Hector Ferguson Lake is certainly the most notorious of the 103 hikes, not least because its published roundtrip distance of 28km is a gross misunderestimation by any measure and also because of its crossing of Gold Creek.  Nonetheless, as an aspiring completionist, it was finally time to head to the infamous lake.

I posted a trip on the BCMC schedule and failed to find any takers, but managed to convince Nancy and Jeff to come along with the promise that they would make a 7pm dinner in town. ¬†This seemed overly ambitious given that we weren’t going to be able to have a very early start and I managed to dig up a trip report alleging a 13.5 hour round trip time, but nonetheless decided to take advantage of the opportunity and have a go at the lake. ¬†To my surprise, aside from a couple km of nearly destroyed trail on either side of the Gold Creek crossing, it’s quite a pleasant trip!

I was picked up in the morning just past 7, and this meant that we were able to be parked at the East Canyon lot in Golden Ears Park and on the trail at a few minutes past 8.  We brought our bikes and aside from being a bit grunty in short sections, had no difficulty making good time up the East Canyon trail.  We passed Viewpoint beach and at about 5.75km stashed our bikes in the bush beside the trail, a couple hundred metres past where the trail ceased to be reasonable for biking.  Total biking time was a bit over an hour, perhaps around 1:10-1:15.

From where we hid the bikes in the bush, the trail is in great shape (with minor exceptions) until past the 10km marker. ¬†However, there is a certain point around 10.5km where the trail rapidly deteriorates. ¬†Soon after becoming bushy, the trail is just above the creek and there is some flagging leading down to it as well as flagging leading straight ahead. ¬†We tried following the trail above the creek, but it’s terrible and quickly backtracked and went down to the creek, following it to a sandbar where the river makes a hard turn to hiker’s left. ¬†This is the only point where the route was not obvious. ¬†You’ll see the trail above the creek descending down to you on your right, but continue straight ahead into the bush to find flagging and a continuation of the trail to the crossing over Gold Creek.

This is where the trail is simply destroyed.  It is only a few hundred metres, but trees have fallen over left, right, and centre.  With a bit of creativity though it was possible to stay on top of many of the trees and make our way across the mess, through a few minutes of badly overgrown trail, and pop out onto the beach just 50m downstream of where you need to cross Gold Creek.  Look for the obvious flagging on the far side of the creek.  I crossed the creek on some logs about 50m downstream of the flagging, and Nancy and Jeff simply took off their shoes and waded through the slightly-above-ankle deep water to the far side.  Total time from car to Gold Creek crossing: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

From the far side of Gold Creek, the trail heads through the bush for a few minutes to the easy crossing over Hector Ferguson Creek, and continues through blow down and berry bushes as it starts its ascent towards Hector Ferguson Lake.  At first the trail is in quite bad shape, but after a short while becomes much better.  The trail is extremely well flagged, and while not too quick due to all of the branch dodging and occasional bushy section, was easy enough to follow all the way up to Hector Ferguson Lake.  Total time to lake: 4 hours, 15 minutes.

I was so happy to be there! ¬†At last, Hector Ferguson Lake! ¬†The lake itself isn’t anything special, just any other lake in the mountain, but it’s pleasant enough and we had a good lunch before starting our descent.

Our descent from Hector Ferguson Lake to Gold Creek was as slow as our ascent.  I attributed this to a remarkable drop in our enthusiasm, but after a refreshing foot and leg dip in Gold Creek we felt rejuvenated enough to head back down the East Canyon Trail to the parking lot.  It took us almost an hour and a half back to our bikes, but other than the initial hill climb just past the East/West Canyon trails connector bridge, the trail is entirely downhill to the cars and we made it back to our car at a quarter to 5.  Total time from lake to parking lot: 4 hours, 9 minutes.

In the end, I enjoyed the trip a lot more than I expected I would. ¬†It’s close to town, features a lot of pleasant and varied terrain, and was a rather nice way to spend a hot day near the city. ¬†The bikes helped a lot, and allowed us to do the round trip in less than 9 hours, moving quickly but never racing (speed at getting over small logs a big plus). ¬†The only real problem with the trail is the amount of bush that is encroaching on it. ¬†The good news is that it’s 99% minor bush, and if a couple parties were to do the round trip with shears in their hands, just clipping away as they travelled up and down, the trail would quickly be in pretty good shape again. ¬†If you’re thinking of heading in, maybe bring some with you and help out your fellow hikers!

Note: For comfort, recommended to bring a GPS track of the trail with you.  The GPS track on open street map of the east canyon trail is complete and appeared to be accurate.

Continue ReadingHector Ferguson Lake

Cathedral Park 2017

Date: July 28-31, 2017

Participants: Eira Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger, Ed Zenger, Leslie Zenger, Peter Zenger, Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace

Difficulty: 1-3

Report: Ever since Brittany and I climbed the Matriach-Macabre-Grimface traverse from Wall Creek back in 2013 I had the idea in my head to book a cabin at Cathedral Lakes Lodge for the whole extended family and explore the core part of Cathedral Park.  Earlier this year, Brittany and I finally got our act together and pulled the trigger to organize a 4 day trip into the park.

We all met on the night of the 27th at a Keremeos campground so that we wouldn’t have to drive too far the next morning to meet our 10am ride from Cathedral Lakes base camp up to the lodge compound at Quiniscoe Lake, and after a poor night’s sleep due to the sun waking Eira at 4:45am, we drove down Ashnola Creek road to meet our ride in. ¬†Lucky for us, as we were going to be staying in Tom’s cabin, which is a few minutes walk above the lodge we all got to ride in a comfortable Suburban rather than the dusty Unimog with the other campers that morning. ¬†The ride in takes about an hour and was made enjoyable by our driver, Ernie, and by noon we had all our belongings in the cabin and sat down for lunch.

Now, this is my largely my fault for not doing research beforehand, but I had no idea how nice the cabin was going to be.  We had a 4 bedroom cabin with sheets and sleeping room for 8 people, running hot water, as well as a stove and fridge!  True luxury!

As we ate lunch the valley filled with smoke from a fire burning south of the border in the Paysayten Wilderness, and Peter developed a fever that would stay with him for the next 4 days. ¬†However, I was motivated to make it up all the remaining scrambles in the park and convinced my dad, Nancy, and Jeff to head out with me in the smoke to climb the east ridge of Pyramid Mountain. ¬†This is a fun and easy half-day scramble from Quiniscoe Lake. ¬†There is no exposure on the route and we made it to the summit in roughly 2 hours from the lake. ¬†By the time we reached the summit, the smoke had started to subside, and from the summit we rambled along the ridge to Devil’s Woodpile, and down to the col to the south of Quiniscoe Peak. ¬†From here, Jeff and I decided to take the long way back via Quiniscoe Mountain and Red Mountain while the others descended directly to Quiniscoe Lake. ¬†Total round trip time for Jeff and I was about 4.5 hours.

The following day, all of us except Peter headed up to Lakeview Mountain via the Centennial Trail (note: this is not the route indicated in Gunn’s book. ¬†We used that route for the descent). ¬†The smoke had cleared completely by morning, and although it’s very heavy to carry an 18 month old baby all day, we shared the load around and ascended through wonderful meadows on the long gentle climb to Lakeview Mountain. ¬†All day we could see the thick smoke to our south but it never quite encroached on us or severely diminished our views. ¬†From the summit, everyone except for Nancy, Jeff, and I decided to head back down the way we ascended, but the 3 of us descended the south ridge of Lakeview on a good trail and made a quick jaunt up to the summit of Boxcar mountain. ¬†From here we faced a decision of whether to return to the Lakeview-Boxcar col and follow the trail from there down to Goat Lake, or whether to continue to the south and head up Denture Ridge before descending to Goat Lake. ¬†In the end, the decision was simple to head directly down as the smoke was starting to close in, and I found myself as able to justify not going up Denture Ridge because of how close to its high point I’d been on aforementioned trip to Matriarch. ¬†The descent to Goat Lake was quick, and we caught up to the rest of the group not far past the Goat Lake – Centennial Trail junction, at which point I resumed my baby carrying duties.

On the Sunday, Peter was feeling well enough in the morning to join us for the beginning of our hike. ¬†The goal was to make a circle, heading to Glacier Lake, then to Stone City, Smokey the Bear, the Giant Cleft, and then down via the Ladyslipper Lake trail and back to the cabin. ¬†Peter and Leslie only made it as far as Glacier Lake before returning to the cabin on account of illness, but the rest of us continued upwards and made the full loop as described. ¬†Smokey the Bear was worth checking out, but I wouldn’t really recommend people go check out the Giant Cleft. ¬†It’s a neat formation, but if you’ve spent time in the mountains you’ve seen similar features before and visiting it requires significant elevation loss from Smokey the Bear. ¬†In all, the loop took us nearly 7 hours.

For our final day, a few of us hiked around the lakes near the cabin, and spent the midday rowing boats around Quiniscoe Lake, although both my mom and dad chose to hike the Diamond Loop trail, which apparently has the best flower meadows of any trail in the core park.  After this, we packed up and caught our scheduled ride back down to our cars.  On the way out we stopped as usual at Benji Thai in Keremeos, and then had a terribly long drive home because a logging truck had dumped logs all over highway 3 near Manning Park and we were detoured from Princeton to Merritt in order to drive the Coquihalla to get back home to the Lower Mainland.  Oh well.

In all, this was a terrific trip, and I am very grateful that my whole family was able to join our experience.  The cabin exceeded all my expectations and the staff of the lodge were friendly and very helpful.  Highly recommended for everyone!

Continue ReadingCathedral Park 2017

Mt. Lindeman

Date: July 24, 2017

Participants: Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report:¬†Mt. Lindeman is the tallest peak immediately west of Chilliwack Lake, taller than Mt. Webb and Macdonald Peak, and until recently access involved either a long “class 5” bushwack up to Hanging Lake from the south end of Chilliwack Lake or a nearly 3000m day to go via Radium Lake and head up and over Macdonald Peak. ¬†Lucky for us mortals, Harry and the Chilliwack Outdoors Club built a wonderful new trail to Mt. Lindeman last year!

The crux of the trip was finding the right place to park. ¬†This isn’t because it’s not obvious, but rather that the directions to the trailhead that I found online and was following were simply wrong, and we wasted half an hour in the morning dinging up my car and exploring the wrong logging roads. ¬†However, finding the trailhead is in fact easy. ¬†Turn off the Chilliwack Lake Road at the signed turnoff for the Slesse Memorial Trail and cross the two small bridges over the Chilliwack River. ¬†Reset your odometer as your turn off of Chilliwack Lake Road, and once over the bridges, turn left at the first junction (right heads up Nesakwatch Creek to the Slesse Memorial Trail trailhead). ¬†The road parallels the river for close to 5km before turning right and heading up Centre Creek. ¬†While driving up Centre Creek FSR, follow the most travelled road, staying low in the valley (i.e. to the right) and avoiding all roads turning off to the left. ¬†Park at 10.2km from Chilliwack Lake Road, at a fork in the road. ¬†At this point the east ridge of Rexford will be looming large above you. ¬†The right hand fork is overgrown and not drivable, and this is the road you will be hiking up to start your hike. ¬† The road to the left is the wrong way, and after switching back, goes up past many large waterbars to a recent clearcut. ¬†Do not drive up this road. ¬†Note that the road to the trailhead is in good shape, with only some minor ditches and could be reached in any 4wd vehicle, such as any little Subaru.

The first few kilometres of the route to Mt. Lindeman follow the overgrown road (the right-hand fork from the 10.2km parking) as it gently ascends beside Centre Creek until about 40 minutes later it reaches the creek coming down from the valley below Mt. Lindeman. ¬†At this point you make a hard turn to the left, going past a metal sign reading “Mt. Lindeman trail”, and proceed to hike straight up the mountain for a few hundred metres. ¬†This trail is well flagged and in great shape, and after easing up a bit, heads into the valley to the northwest of Mt. Lindeman, reaching some meadows. ¬†We had started hiking just past 9:30am, and reached the meadows at around 11:10. ¬†At the far end of the meadow the trail disappears when it reaches some large boulders, and we made the mistake of bushwacking through the boggy meadow to our left. ¬†As we learned later, it is better to simply go through the large boulders en route to the main boulder gully that can be seen ahead.

Here we took a break and began our route up the main boulder gully (the right hand one) at around 11:30, and reached the main valley above about 40 minutes later.  From here the route is obvious to the col between the ascent valley and Upper Hanging Lake, which we reached just before 1 pm and here we sat down to eat lunch.  From this point, the goal is to make an ascending traverse across the basin to the steep grassy slopes heading up towards the summit.  We shortcutted across the snow to hit the grass and boulders on the far side of the basin, and while the slopes on the other side are steep, it is no problem to ascend them without getting into any 3rd class terrain.  The summit was reached at a bit past 2:15pm, for a total ascent time of a bit over 4.5 hours.

Mt. Lindeman might have the best views of any mountain near Vancouver.  From the summit there are clear views of Rexford, Slesse, Baker, Shuksan, Williams, Bear, Redoubt, the whole Cheam range, as well as the Pickets, Silvertip group, and usual peaks north of the Fraser Valley.

We hung out on the peak for quite a while to take it all in, and finally departed at around 3.  The descent was made very quick by glissading down snowslopes in the upper basins, followed by the excellent trail down to the valley.  The final few km down the overgrown road back to the car were sloggy and annoying, but nonetheless we made it to the car at 5:40pm, for a total descent time of a bit over 2.5 hours and a round trip time of 8 hours.  Note that we were moving pretty quick due to the late start and I would recommend allowing more than 8 hours for most parties.

I highly recommend Mt. Lindeman.  With the trail in its current shape it belongs in the list of top 10 SW BC hikes.  A must do!

Continue ReadingMt. Lindeman

Deeks Peak (2017)

Date: July 8, 2017

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report: Brittany, Eira, and I arrived home a day earlier than expected from Hornby Island, and with great looking weather coming the following day, we decided to have a go at Deeks peak.  I had a failed attempt of Deeks on skis back in December and I was eager for the opportunity to deal with unfinished business.

Much like last year when heading to Mt. Hanover, we drove up the Deeks road for ~3.2km to just before the final steep rise on the road and parked here so as to not destroy the XTerra on the final stretch of road. ¬†The road seemed to be in even worse shape than last year and it’s getting to the point where I might just give in and park by the highway the next time I head up towards Deeks Lake.

We left the car at 8:25 and started our march up towards Deeks. ¬†About half an hour up the Deeks lake trail there is a marker on a tree pointing towards the “Bypass trail”, and this is the route we chose for our ascent. ¬†The “bypass trail” (aka “Deeks direct”, aka “Deeks W Ridge direct”) is the most direct trail up to the summit of Deeks but is in need of some love and care. ¬†There are a few places on the trail where we were left hunting around wondering where the next ribbon was, but for the most part it is obvious enough to follow. ¬†The only point with real confusion was where the trail popped out onto a boulder field and it wasn’t obvious that the trail continued to directly up and to the right without ever crossing the boulders. ¬†That said, with a bit of work, I could see this trail becoming very popular as it really is a fantastic route.

As the trail nears treeline it became increasingly steep, overgrown and buggy, but by noon we were clear from the trees, and although we lost the trail markers we headed up straight for the summit without any difficulties, and were on top by 12:45.  The air was clear and the views were great, so we stopped for a lunch and to ponder our way down, eventually deciding to descend towards the Deeks-Windsor col to find the regular trail down to Deeks Lake.

We started our descent at 1:30 and quickly discovered that the route down the east side of Deeks (towards the Deeks-Windsor) col is steep, not travelled very often, and hard to follow with occasional snow patches obscuring the footbed.  Nonetheless, we managed to follow the route all the way to the final bump above the col, where we lost it.  Unfortunately we turned off the ridge too early and instead of going up and over the final minor bump we turned to our right and worked our way down a very steep, unpleasant, and precarious bushy slope until we found the flagging from the proper trail from Deeks joining us from the left.  From here it was just a couple minutes walk to meet the main trail heading up to Windsor.  Unlike the Deeks trail, this trail was in fine condition and we were able to make our way down to Deeks Lake, where we arrived at 3:45 and stopped for our final snack of the day.

From Deeks Lake it was the familiar old slog down to the car, which we reached at 5:15 for a total round trip time of just under 9 hours. ¬†As it stands now, I wouldn’t recommend Deeks over the other peaks in the area like Brunswick or Harvey, but with a bit of work on the bypass trail, Deeks could once again be a north shore classic.



Continue ReadingDeeks Peak (2017)

Macdonald Peak & Mt. Webb

Date: June 17, 2017

Participants: Bill, Ilze, Ove, Miranda, Joseph, Oudi, Nancy Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2/3 (steep snow)

Report: A couple weeks ago I found out that my scheduled BCMC trip to Ben Lomond wouldn’t be possible due to bush overgrowth on the Wind Lake trail from Furry Creek, and I needed to quickly select another destination for my trip. ¬†A flip-through of Gunn’s Scrambles book suggested that Macdonald Peak and Mt. Webb in the Chilliwack Valley would make for a good trip destination at this time of year with the long days. ¬†I haven’t been out on many long hikes lately, and I wasn’t sure how well I’d do on a 2000m day, but the forecast was good enough and decided to go for it.

Most of our carpool arrived at the Chilliwack Lake day-use area just before 8am, although one of our drivers missed the turn and drove part way around the lake before heading back to the proper parking area. ¬†This delayed us somewhat, but we were able to start hiking at around 8:30, down the beach trail towards the bridge and over the Chilliwack River. ¬†From the river crossing, it’s about a 2.5km walk downriver to the no longer existent bridge crossing mentioned in Gunn’s book, and another 500m up to the (well-signed) start of the Radium Lake trail.

The trail up to Radium Lake is long and quite uninteresting aside from the 3 creek crossings: one on a remarkable suspension bridge that would have been a huge effort to construct, one on a flattened log, and the other on a plain old footbridge. ¬†We hustled up the trail without any significant breaks and reached the lake at 11:30 (parking to lake: 3 hours). ¬†Miranda’s flight the previous evening had been significantly delayed and landed at 2:30am, so she elected to sleep on the tent platform by the lake while the rest of us went up to the peaks above.

The flagging indicating the trail up to the Macdonald-Webb col was not obvious to us from the tent platform, and so for the first 10 minutes above the lake we found ourselves bushwacking up the hill before stumbling across a perfectly good trail that we should have been on all along.  We hit snow just before the trail leaves the trees, and with good snow conditions were able to quickly kick steps up to the Macdonald-Webb col where we stopped for lunch and to put on our crampons (lake to col: just under 1 hour).

From the col, we could see that our route up Macdonald would be almost entirely on snow, whereas the south ridge of Webb was 99% snow free. ¬†Macdonald being the larger peak, we decided to head there first, and quickly made our way up to the false summit on snow. ¬†From here, Gunn’s book suggests scrambling up the north ridge, but there was a snow face just to the right of it that appeared to go nearly to the summit, so with our ice axes and crampons we kicked steps up the steep snow slope (~40-45 degrees at steepest point) until we hit rock just below the summit block. ¬†Here we removed our crampons and it was a quick 5 minute scramble on to the summit, which we reached at about 2:05 (col to Macdonald summit: 1 hour, 20 minutes). ¬†We relaxed on the summit for a while, taking in the views of Rexford as the clouds permitted, before starting our way down to the col, departing at around 2:30.

The initial descent was slow as we kicked steps back down the steep snow, but soon sped up and we headed back down to the col, stopping for another bite to eat. ¬†It was getting late by the time we were ready to start our ascent of Webb and so we left our packs in the col, and hustled up the obvious south ridge of Webb as quickly as we could. ¬†Joseph and I made it to the summit in 21 minutes from the col, and the last of us made it up in 30 minutes. ¬†The views were much better from the summit of Webb than they were from Macdonald, so we stopped to take photos and enjoy the day, but eventually noticed it was 4:30 and that we’d need to hustle to make it back down. ¬†The descent off of Webb was quick and easy, and snow made the descent down to Radium lake quick as well, and we reached the lake at 5:30 for our final major rest of the day.

Like so many other hikes in BC, the final stretch of this trip was a real slog and really not fun at all.  With tired legs the descent from Radium Lake to the Chilliwack River and then the ascent back to Chilliwack Lake and the parking lot seemed to go on forever, but we eventually reached our cars at about 8:20 (lake to parking: 2 hours, 35 minutes).

We were really lucky with the weather as it was great for efficient movement: high overcast all day, never raining and never hot. ¬†As a final note, I would not recommend that anyone ever choose to hike just to Radium Lake. ¬†It’s not a particularly nice lake, and you can’t see much of anything above it. ¬†If you want to go to Radium Lake, I would strongly recommend that you follow the trail up to the Macdonald-Webb col, where the great views start, or even ascent all the way up to Mt. Webb. ¬†Thanks to everyone for coming out with me. ¬†I got to summit two new peaks, and¬†had a great day!

Continue ReadingMacdonald Peak & Mt. Webb