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!

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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.

Continue ReadingMt. Chief Pascall 2015

Gott Peak (Blowdown Pass)

Trip Date: July 1, 2013

Participants: Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1/2

Report: After returning back to the Duffey Lake Road Sunday evening so that Mr. Le could make it back home that evening to work on the holiday Monday, the rest of us headed into Lillooet for dinner and to look through our maps and guidebooks to find somewhere we could go for a short trip on Monday and still get us back in town with time to run a bunch of errands.  We decided to head up towards Blowdown Pass and hopefully make it up Gott Peak.  Given that the road heads up a north facing valley (snow?) and didn’t know the road conditions, we weren’t sure whether we’d be able to drive anywhere near the pass, but we started up the road around 7:30 just to see how far we’d get.

The road towards Blowdown pass is in good shape for the first 10km (where we could see some trucks had parked, a few waterbars just before the parking pullout), but then becomes much rougher.  We had no problems until around the 11.4km mark, where there was a nasty little section of road: a small creek crossing followed by a steep, rutted out few metres that despite two attempts, we weren’t able to bounce up.  We didn’t know what followed and so backtracked about 100m down the road to a very pleasant pullout for camping.  The next day we would learn that once past this nasty section, the road is in decent condition for another few km, and so anyone who does make it past this would have been able to drive to within about 50m below the pass, where the road became snow covered.

We woke up on the Monday at 5:30, and took our time to pack up camp and eat breakfast, and set off on foot up the road towards Blowdown Pass around 6:45, making it to Blowdown pass at about 7:45 where we stopped to enjoy the incredible morning views and eat a more substantial meal.  From here, it was about 10 minutes of walking up easy snow before the ridge became snow free, and from thereon it was easy pleasant walking over the broad heather covered slopes to Gott’s false summit, which we reached at about 8:45.  Once again we stopped to take in the incredible views and then rambled for another 20 minutes along the ridge over to Gott’s true summit (reaching it at about 9:20), from which the mid-morning views were incredible.  Gott Peak is the tallest mountain for quite a distance and so the views were fantastic over to Matier and Joffre, Silent Hub, Skihist, Stein, and so on.

Rather than head back down to Blowdown Pass and down the road, we decided to head straight down the meadows below the peak to hit the road right above where it splits to go to the lake, and this proved to be no problem.  The meadows were lush with blooming flowers from top to bottom, and we were quickly down on the road and back to the car.  Total round trip time was around 5 hours moving at a very relaxed pace.  I will definitely be back someday to explore the ridges on the other side of the pass, and to hopefully make the traverse over from Gotcha to Notgott peak.  Recommended for an easy day in beautiful country.

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Downton Creek Scrambling

Trip Date: June 29-30, 2013

Participants: Alex Le, Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2 (Statimcets), 3 (Linus)

Report: After the trip to Mt. Sedgwick that I had been planning on going on fell apart late in the week, I hastily arranged to put together a “mellow” but enjoyable trip for the Canada Day long weekend.  Alex had to be back in town to work on the Monday, so the plan was made to head into Downton Creek for the Saturday and Sunday, and then the rest of us would find somewhere else to wander about on the Monday (when we ended up climbing Gott Peak).

Knowing that access should be quick into the Downton Creek drainage, we met up at the Mt. Currie Coffee Company in Pemberton at 10 o’clock, had breakfast, and headed out towards Lillooet on the Duffey Lake Road.  The forecast was for increasing temperatures over the weekend, and some predicted that the Lillooet / Lytton area would record the highest temperatures ever recorded in Canada by the Tuesday, but on Saturday morning the temperatures were still very reasonable.  We reached the Downton Creek turnoff at around 11:30, and everyone piled into my Jeep for the ride up to the Holly Lake trailhead.  Some reports indicate that the road in is 2wd, and that is generally true.  The roadbed itself (dirt and gravel) is in very good condition, but there are a couple places where having an extra inch or two of clearance makes the going a bit easier.  Nonetheless, a standard 2wd should be able to make it to the trailhead with a bit of patience.

We got everything sorted out at the trailhead and departed on the Holly Lake trail at about 12:30.  The trail is in fantastic condition and whoever is maintaining it has earned himself big kudos.  We reached Holly Lake after a bit less than an hour of hiking, and as nobody else was around, we considered setting up camp there, but decided instead to head up to the Alpine.  This was a great decision on our part because that night a stag party set up at Holly Lake (including a keg brought in by helicopter!) and the following day a few more parties came in to set up camp at the lake.  Up in the alpine, however, below Schroeder and Linus peaks there is a huge plateau at around 2100m with a couple small tarns on it, great views all around, and many good tent spots.  Also, being in the rain shadow, this area was snow free even though it was only the end of June.  Up there we were alone all weekend.  Total hiking time to this plateau (with overnight packs) was well under 2 hours.

After setting up camp and taking some quick naps, we decided at around 4:15 to head up Statimcets Peak (Downton Creek 8700 in Gunn’s Scrambles book).  We traversed around Faulty Tower and headed up a moderate snowslope to the South Ridge of Statimcets which we followed to the summit, reaching the summit a bit past 5:30.  With the long days and warm weather, there were fantastic views all around.  After lounging about for a while, we took the East Ridge down easy snow and scree (the route indicated in Gunn’s book) and were back in camp by 7 o’clock to cook dinner and enjoy the long daylight.

On the Sunday, we got up around 7 just as the temperature in our tent was approaching the level of “sauna”.  We set off after breakfast to head up the ridge to Linus peak, ascending moderately steep snow (35-40 degrees) to the low point on the ridge between Schroeder and Linus peaks, and turning onto the ridge to ascend Linus.  The ridge is quite loose and exposed in places, but largely class 2, with a handful of class 3 sections, such as an au cheval not far along (avoidable on an exposed ledge on the right, it’s easier to just go over it).  This was Mr. Le’s first scrambling experience and from this I learned that the ridge is quite scary and exposed for beginners.  Nonetheless, we all made it to the summit in one piece and enjoyed the crisp morning views.  Total ascent time from camp was approximately 2 hours.  A group vote was taken, and rather than continue on the ridge to Statimcets (my vote), we reversed our route back down, returning to our camp in the early afternoon, and from there, down to our vehicle (just over an hour total descent time), and a nice drive out to Lillooet for a meal at the main hotel.

The Downton Creek area is a fantastic basin for scrambling.  We only climbed two peaks, but I’d love to head back in a couple years with a quick party to do the full Soprano to Statimcets traverse.  It is definitely one of the easiest alpine areas to access in SW BC, and at present, almost nobody ventures above Holly Lake!  Highly recommended.

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Mt. Taylor

Trip Date: January 14, 2012

Participants: Seth Baker, Andrew Brown, Paul Cannin, Cameron Coatta, Pete Finch, James Haworth, Ilze Rupners, Monica Studner, Chloe Tergeman, Brittany Zenger, Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger (organizer)

Difficulty: 3

Report: Dark and gloomy weather brought everyone together to Pemberton’s Mt. Currie Coffee Company (a fantastic spot to meet up) at 8am for the first of my two BCMC trips on the weekend of Jan 14/15, and despite some delays (a couple party members were circling the town of Mt. Currie, looking for a coffee shop), we managed to set out on the trip from our cars at around 9:20 am.  The initial logging road stretch of the trip was ridden with alder and made for slow going, and when we reached the end of the road and started heading up through the trees, found that the surface was a nearly impenetrable ice that most of the party members without ski crampons had difficulty ascending.

Needless to say, the ascent up to treeline went much slower than expected, and after a short lunch break, we finally found ourselves in the alpine at about 1:30pm.  By this point, a few party members were quite concerned about the difficulty of the ascent through the trees, and the majority of the group decided to turn around (a few of the strongest members pushed towards the summit, but didn’t make it all the way).

For the descent, we followed the route recommended by Baldwin, and we actually had phenomenal powder for the first few hundred metres, although there were a few short traverse sections that gave some trouble to our splitboarders.  This route barely had enough snow to be feasible as it descends through a boulder field and without sufficient snow, it would be impassable.  Following the left side of the creek down towards the valley, we managed to find the correct place to cross the creek in order to descend the final icy trees and hit the road that would take us back to our cars, but this was greatly assisted by having a GPS device with an accurate altitude reading.  Without an accurate altitude reading, it would likely be difficult to find the right route back to the logging road.

The alder was just as bad on the descent as it was on the ascent, but we made it out to the duffey lake road, and hiked back down to our cars safely, with the last party members making it down at about 4:45 pm.  In all, it was a decent day, if only for the great powder line heading down from our turnaround point, but I will be back someday to make the full ascent to the summit.

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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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