Mt. Chief Pascall 2015

Date: Jan 11, 2015

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger, + 4 other BCMC members

Difficulty: 3

Report: Just over three years since my previous trip to Mt. Chief Pascall, I joined Brittany on a BCMC trip that she organized to make a ski ascent and descent of the peak.  We’ve had a bad snow year so far, but the trip was scheduled for a month later in the season than my previous trip and so I was optimistic that there’d be enough snow to avoid any alder bashing and have a decent run down the mountain.  Luckily, someone removed the alder on the lower logging road in the past few years, but as it turned out, there was no good run down to be had.

We met up at 8:15 in Pemberton at the Mt. Currie Coffee Company and headed up to the weather station pull out on the Duffey Lake road and set out from the cars at around 9:30am.  So far, so good.  There wasn’t much snow in the trees and the initial creek crossing was a little interesting, but we made it up to the logging road on the opposite side of the valley without too much drama.  From here we followed the logging road to the east to the far edge of the clearcut and made our way up through the trees on the far side of it as there wasn’t quite enough snow to make it up through the clearcut itself.  The going was slow due to the lack of snow, but we made steady progress up to the ridge.  Unlike last time, we stuck a bit too far to the right of the route indicated on Baldwin’s map, but luckily it worked out in the end.  There is a bit of exposure higher up if you stick too far right and it’s definitely easier to stick to the mellow terrain to the left (i.e. if you hit some cliff bands, you should traverse left, not right), but it turns out that either way works.

Higher up the skinning became decent, and at the top of the run labelled “Equinox” on Baldwin’s map we left our skis behind and booted up to the summit.  We were on the summit some time between 2 and 2:15, which means that the ascent took about 45 minutes longer than on my previous trip to the peak, but conditions were much more challenging this time around.  The views to the north were great but unfortunately the view to the summit of Joffre was clouded in.    Interestingly, this was the same day that 3 deaths occurred in the central couloir Joffre (partly visible from the summit of Chief Pascall) but in the winter silence nothing seemed amiss.

Now… the descent.  The last time I skiied Chief Pascall the descent took approximately 2 hours (perhaps a bit less) and would’ve been much shorter than that except for a group member going off route at one point and everyone having to wait for him to reascend to the correct path.  This time was another story.  The snow was wet heavy cement in places, and icy with fluff underneath in others.  The common element between both conditions was the simple lack of snow all around.  Given the lack of snow on the ascent route we chose to descend via “Equinox” in the hopes that it would save us from some nasty conditions in the trees lower down.  It didn’t.  It probably wouldn’t have been better on the ascent route but the descent down to the logging road was literally the worst skiing I’ve had in my life.  Hard to turn, obstacles everywhere, and impossible to ski in places due to lack of snow, it took us well past dark to make it down to the road, and we didn’t make it to the cars until about 7:20.  The descent took us just shy of 5 hours and we were all exhausted!  Anyways, thank you to everyone for the trip, I’m glad to have been in the area again and for the great company, but I really hope that ski conditions improve soon so that other trips this year actually have some quality skiing, unlike this one.

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Mt. Chief Pascall

Trip Date: December 11, 2011

Participants: Alexis Guigue, Steve Bell-Irving, David Haslam, Rob Kay, Travis McClinchey, Andrzej Jarzabek, Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger (organizer)

Difficulty: 3.  Easy rock scrambling, slopes to 30-35 degrees, dense forest low down

Elevation Gain: 920m

Report: My first ski trip on the BCMC schedule to actually run this season!  The trip began by meeting up at the Mt. Currie Coffee Company in Pemberton just before 8am, making all of the necessary introductions, and setting off to the weather station pullout right at Cayoosh Pass.  We set off from the cars at about 9:30, with 7 of us on skis, and 1 on snowshoes.

The first 10 minutes or so of the trip were easy going, and then we hit the logging road.  When I went up towards Mt. Chief Pascall in February 2011, the logging road was completely covered, and we took it to the clearcut a couple hundred metres to the east, which was then easily descended.  This time, however, with no appreciable snowfall in 2 weeks, the logging road was a brutal alder bash, which we had to take all the way to the east side of the clearcut as from below the clearcut did not appear to be skiable.

From the east end of the clearcut, we had little difficulty ascending the forest, slowly traversing around to the east side of the ridge to avoid the bluffs high up, and soon entered the gentle basin at treeline to the north west of the summit.  From here, it was an easy skin up to the west ridge of Chief Pascall.  After a quick snack break (and to give our valiant snowshoer a chance to catch his breath!) we skinned up the narrowing ridge (with some difficulty in places due to the low snow level) up to the top of the large gully descending from the summit (~100m below the summit) and left our skis behind to scramble the remainder of the ridge.

The final ridge was an easy scramble, although the going was slow with many of the rocks covered with only a few inches of snow and ice.  We all reached the summit around 1:30 and took our time to eat, drink, and gaze at the north/east faces of Joffre.

Leaving the summit, we made quick time down to our skis (despite one of my legs post-holing into a gap between two boulders approximately 3m deep!), and began our descent by skiing the top couple hundred metres of the wide snowslope labelled “Equinox” on Baldwin’s Duffey Lake map.  With a bit of foresight, we could have left a vehicle at the Marriot basin trailhead and had a fall line descent most of the way down, but alas, that hadn’t crossed any of our minds and we quickly had to begin our traverse to the west in order to reach our vehicles.  Around treeline we found some fantastic powder, but the traversing was not steep enough for our snowboarder to properly ride and I think he found much of the descent quite tedious.

Back down at the clearcut, we started to bash through the alder on the logging road, but Alexis smartly decided to take a peek through the bushes to see if he could scout a clear line through the clearcut, and as it turned out, he could!  Although not phenomenal by any means, we had a nice run through the clearcut back down to the logging road, and from there it was a quick ski down through the trees to the vehicles, where we arrived around 4:30pm.  The route taken is definitely much more suitable for skiing than snowboarding, and so I learned something for next time.  Nonetheless, everyone made it down before dark, and fun was had by all.

Verdict: 2/3.

Note: I forgot my camera at home for this trip, and so all photos were taken by my dad on his camera

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