Great Bear Peak (Iago)

Trip Date: December 15, 2011

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger, Nancy Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Elevation Gain: ~600m

Report: Back in Vancouver for a few weeks, and having taken an AST-1 course last winter, my sister Nancy was eager to try out a real ski tour for the first time, and so our objective for the day was to find a reasonably short day objective without any significant difficulties and that Brittany and I hadn’t already visited (thus ruling out the usual suspects for this situation, such as Zoa, Zupjok, Kelly, and Paul Ridge).  It took us the entire ride to Hope to all agree on a destination, but in the end decided on the minor peak referred to in Baldwin’s book as “Great Bear Peak” (note: Baldwin refers to the northern summit as “Iago” and the southern as “Great Bear”)

We arrived at the Zopkios Ridge rest area on the Coquihalla highway at around 9:30, where we bumped into the Baldwin clan, who were just starting out towards Zupjok peak, and geared up for our trip.  The first part of the route to Great Bear Peak is the same as that for Zupjok Peak, up into the basin between Zupjok and Ottomite peaks.  From the basin, the second portion of the route involves making a slightly ascending contour around Zupjok peak, eventually reaching the col between Zupjok and Iago peaks.  Here we stopped for a snack break, and after a short while, proceeded up the lightly treed ridge to Iago peak.  There are a couple of short steep sections on the ridge, but there isn’t any serious exposure, and so everyone managed to make it right to the summit without ever having to remove their skis.

We reached the “Iago” summit around 1:30, and from the summit of Iago, it looks like the “Great Bear” summit is either the same height or perhaps a couple of metres lower.  Regardless, as we were planning on returning via the ridge that we came from, it made no sense for us to drop down the 30m into the col between Great Bear and Iago, ascend the other summit, and then make our way back to the Iago summit.  The views would be the same from either summit.

Leaving the summit a bit past two, it was a quick ski down the ridge back down to the Zupjok-Iago col through surprisingly nice powder, and from there it was a simple matter of following our tracks back to the Ottomite-Zupjok basin and gliding down the road from there.  In all, a reasonable first ski tour for a beginner, but for anyone else, the peak is only suitable for completionists.  The views from Zupjok are better, the run down from Zupjok is better, and ascending/descending Zupjok does not necessitate contouring around Zupjok.  I’m glad I went out this way once to see what was there, but in the future, I’ll be sticking to Zupjok for a short winter ski day in the area.

Verdict: 1/3.  Nice enough, but there are a few superior ski tours starting from the same parking lot.


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