Metal Dome

Date: May 2, 2015

Participants: Devin Erickson, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1/2

Report: Metal Dome is a popular mountain so I don’t need to say too much.  We started out from the cars at around 9:30, parking right next to the snowmobile cabin up Brandywine FSR.  Hit snow about 5 minutes up the snowmobile access cut from there, and proceeded easily on snow to the summit.  Amazing views, great day.  Total round trip at a very relaxed pace with lots of time on the summit of only about 5 hours.  Great trip for beginners!

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Sky Pilot Mountain

Date: Aug 27, 2014

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger, Edzis, Anders

Difficulty: 4 (short 4th section, lots of 3rd)

Report: I’ll keep this short because the route is so popular and so well documented.  Brittany and I saw that the forecast for the long weekend was wet, and we made the decision to take the Wednesday off to get in one last day of nice weather for this August.  We took the new gondola up a bit past 9, and hiked up the newly cleared and well marked “Sky Pilot Valley Trail” and followed it up to the West Ridge route up Sky Pilot.

Just as we reached the Stadium glacier we ran into Edzis and Anders, two nice Latvians living currently in Vancouver and who had seen nice photos from Sky Pilot online.  They didn’t know the exact route, and after a brief chat we loaned them some poles and grouped up with them for the ascent.  As relatively inexperienced scramblers the pink slab was a bit too difficult for them (from base to rap rings above it is 17m), but luckily I had brought a short rope and with the rap rings at the top of the pitch (also there are two rings in the final ascent gully) I was able to give them a quick belay to get down the most challenging parts.  Experienced scramblers will be able to downclimb these sections, but I’d bring a rope if you’re going with anyone less experienced.

Total ascent time was just over 3.5 hours.  One hour 15 to the end of the Sky Pilot valley trail, another hour and a bit to the Stadium glacier.  From the bottom of the pink slab to the summit was about 45 minutes.  The descent was only slightly shorter due to the aforementioned belays that I gave on the two steep parts.  In all, it was a beautiful day, and the rock is just perfect for scrambling on.  Highly recommended even with its popularity!


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Watersprite Peaks

Date: July 27-28

Participants: Dave Scanlon, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2-5

Report: Brittany and I had gone in to Watersprite Lake with Dave and a couple others two winters ago just as a day trip to check out the skiing opportunities in the area, but until now we hadn’t ever been in the area in summer.  The BCMC (BC Mountaineering Club) has a tenure to build a hut at Watersprite Lake, and last week we were given the chance to head in there again with Dave to do a bit of improvement to the trail that he’s been building and to try and summit a few of the peaks surrounding the lake and see how we liked the area.

We met up at St. David’s at about 9 o’clock Sunday morning, just before the church crowd arrived, and piled into Dave’s 4×4 to make our way up towards the trailhead to get to the lake.  We drove up towards Squamish, turned  past the Apron parking lot onto Mamquam FSR, turned left onto the Skookum creek system just past the 13km mark and ascended the road up to the old upper staging area for the recently completed Skookum creek run-of-river IPP where we parked the car and set out up the road just before 10:30 (see image below for route drawn on map, ‘x’ marks parking spot).  Most of the drive in is 2wd accessible, but the last few km are a bit steep and loose.  The first 3.5km or so into Watersprite is on an old logging road, and after our snipping efforts last weekend is reasonably clear of alder and bush.  It took us about an hour and a half to reach the flagged turn off from the road to drop down into the meadows below where Dave has cleared and flagged a trail that can be followed up to the lake.  En route to the lake we helped fix up the trail, did a bit more snipping, and eventually arrived at the camping area / proposed hut location at the outflow of Watersprite Lake shortly before 3pm, for a total time to walk in of about 4.5 hours.


At the lake we set up camp and had a snack, but as the day was still young at around 4:30 I decided to head out on my own to ascend Dreadnought Peak, just to the NE of the lake.  I made my way around the south side of the lake to head up east to the col between Dreadnought and Watersprite Tower.  From here, Dave said he’d heard there was a class 3 route up to the summit of Dreadnought, but despite trying a few approaches to get onto the ridge I was unable to find one that looked like it’d go at anything less than a stiff class 4, and eventually found myself heading up the large obvious rock gully that heads up towards the west ridge of Dreadnought a couple hundred metres west of the col.  The gully was pretty unpleasant, but except for its exit, wasn’t particularly hard or steep.  On the way down I found that the steep exit can be avoided through the bushes on the left (west) of the gully.  Above the gully, pleasant easy scrambling led me to the summit of Dreadnought which I reached at 6pm.  There are three summits of Dreadnought, all perhaps 50 feet apart and all apparently within about 1 foot of elevation.  After gazing at the great view of Mamquam, Garibaldi, Sky Pilot, Tantalus, and the lesser known peaks to the east I descended back to camp for dinner and relaxation.

The following morning we headed up to attempt Watersprite Tower, Dave’s main objective for the trip.  I had brought along a 30m rope and a small set of nuts and cams, but from the sub-summit of the tower we found that our rope wasn’t long enough to rappel into the notch!  Furthermore, the climbing on the far side looked pretty difficult… After much hemming and hawing we eventually decided to give up on finding a way down into the notch and instead decided to traverse the ridge along the south side of the lake around over the high summit south of the lake and over towards Martin Peak.  Watersprite Tower would have to wait for a later attempt.  As an aside, there is a crazy balanced pillar on the sub-summit of Watersprite that couldn’t be moved into place by heavy machinery if you wanted to!

The ridge around the south of the lake is a very fun scramble.  Always interesting, and never too difficult, with a few short 3rd class sections.  The only tricky routefinding was the descent from the high point on the ridge (Peak 1877) to the col between it and the intervening bump between it and Martin Peak.  There was a cliff that we possibly could have rappelled, but we found instead that it was better to drop down heather slopes to the south, into the bowl below, and reascend to the col via heather and talus slopes.  From this point we had the option of continuing to Martin Peak, but as this col is the normal descent route from Martin Peak and we were already getting tired we decided to skip the final summit on the ridge and just descend down easy snow slopes back to Watersprite Lake.  We made it back to camp at about 2pm, so our total round trip time for the loop was about 6.5 hours.

Once back in camp we slowly packed up, and departed camp close to 3 o’clock to make our way back down to the car.  It would take us between 3.5 and 4 hours back to the car (so, so, so much easier in winter), and the final road seemed to go on forever, but we eventually made it and concluded another highly successful and fun trip.  The hiking around the lake isn’t super easy, but with some flagging it would be accessible to most experienced hikers and it is a very beautiful area.  Personally I wish the approach was an hour or two shorter, but apparently most people want a hut that’s a bit farther from the cars… apparently I dislike long approaches more than most, and 4-4.5 hours isn’t that excessive in the summer (it took us only around 3 hours in winter on skis).   Finally, many thanks to Dave for building a trail into the lake and showing us the way in.


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Anif Peak & Mt. Mulligan

Trip Date: March 23, 2014

Participants: Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2/3 (steep near the top of Anif)

Report: With a few trips to Alpen Mountain under my belt in the last few years, the time finally came last Sunday for a trip to nearby Anif Peak and Mt. Mulligan, both just SE of Squamish.  A small storm had rolled through town on Saturday and so we were hoping to do a short day trip to explore a new area and get some good turns.  All requirements would be satisfied.

We left New Westminster around 8:30 and made our way up towards Squamish and turned at the apron parking lot to head up the Mamquam FSR.  The turn off for Mt. Mulligan is about 6.8km from the highway, and can be identified by some concrete blocks from an old gate on either side about 10m up the road along with a small sign saying that the road is deactivated (note: there is another turn off to the right a couple hundred metres earlier on the Mamquam FSR.  Ignore this one).  We were able to drive about 1.8km up this road to a branch in the road where active logging is under way and where there was too much snow for us to continue.  We parked here and headed up the left hand branch, which would in turn lead us up towards Anif and Mulligan.

Not more than 10m up the road, however, we encountered a young couple putting chains on their 4-runner who offered to give us a lift up as far as their truck could make it!  We helped them sort out their chains, get them on the tires, loaded everything into the truck, and drove up the road another 100m before the road became impassible due to deep snow, thus saving us approximately 30m of climbing in exchange for only 45 minutes of effort.  Not quite worth it, but we appreciated the thought nonetheless.

We started up the road at 11am, and by sticking to the main road and not taking any branches, an hour and a half later found ourselves heading into the valley that divides Mt. Mulligan (to the north / left) and Anif Peak (to the south / right).  The snow in here was really sticky from the sun and I had forgot my skin wax at home.  There are some great looking runs off of the shoulder of Anif Peak back into the valley, but we wouldn’t be tackling them today.  At the end of the valley we zig-zagged up to the col between Anif and Mulligan and turned to the right to ascend Anif Peak.  The ridge up Anif Peak consists of a number of benches with surprisingly steep steps (45 degree+) in between.  They aren’t particularly long, and there isn’t any significant exposure, but it is something to keep in mind.  Finally, just a few minutes after 2 we climbed to the top of the last step and made the quick jaunt over to the true peak, just a minute or two south of the false summit.

The views from the summit of Anif were great for the first few minutes, with excellent views of Habrich, Alpen, the Sky Pilot group, Watersprite and Mamquam areas, and so on.  Unfortunately, a few minutes later clouds rolled in over Sky Pilot and Garibaldi and the views disappeared.  So, after a break for lunch, it was time to ski back down to the Anif-Mulligan col and head up Mulligan as well.  The skiing on the ridge was just fantastic!  Great powder, great angle (unfortunately not very long).

We found ourselves putting our skins back on just before 3 o’clock and headed up the south ridge of Mulligan.  The ridge has quite dense trees low down which made trail breaking tiring, and it was here that the fact that I was out at a friend’s stag the previous night hit me… the ridge seemed to go on forever even though the total elevation gain is less than 200m.  We finally reached the summit of Mulligan a bit before 4 o’clock and both agreed that we were really happy that we went up Anif first because the summit of Mulligan isn’t much more than a rounded forested bump.  Luckily, it has a good ski run down its Northwest ridge, which we followed to a large clearing (with mega sun crust) that led us back down to the road.  The road was fast and we made it down in one piece for a total round trip time of 5:45.  Not bad for two peaks and around 1200-1300m total elevation gain!

The route ended up being a lot more interesting than I imagined it would be ahead of time and would definitely recommend it for people looking for a good day out not far from Vancouver.  You won’t see many crowds, and there are enough runs off of the side of Anif to keep someone with sufficient energy interested for a few laps.


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Alpen Mountain 2013

Trip Date: Dec 7, 2013

Participants: Chris Barton, Michele Cohen, Alison Coolican, Jaine Hnik, Rob Kay, Jana Kralikova, Alex Le, Dave Robertson, Pavel Stech, Goran Vranic, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report: Another December, another trip to Alpen Mountain.  Alpen is one of my favourite early season trips due to the first part being entirely on logging road and so you can always drive right to the point where you can start skinning.  For a detailed description of the route, please see one of my trip report from 2011 here.

The Whistler alpine forecast for the date of the trip was for temperatures down to -21 in the alpine and it hadn’t snowed in weeks, so we were all a bit nervous about we would encounter on the route but headed up towards the mountain nonetheless.  I went to Alpen in December 2011 and December 2012 and in those years we were able to start skinning from around 550m and 450m, respectively.  This year however, we were able to drive up to 1050m, shaving at least 4.5km off of the distance that I had to cover in previous years.  This would make for a short day.

The ascent took us just a bit over 3 hours, including a snack break at the snowmobile hut.  Up to the hut there was very little snow and in a few places there weren’t any great lines to ascend through the trees, but not far above the hut the snow became deeper and to our pleasant surprise, it was remarkably light powder!  No ice to be found at all despite how long it’d been since it last snowed.  Even better, the sun was beating down all day and there was no wind, and so even though it was around -10 degrees on the summit, everyone was happy to spend the better part of an hour on top before starting down.

Once we were down to where we left our skis below the summit, the next part of the descent was through really nice powder, and we found a route through the trees back to the road that only involved a couple minutes of bush-bashing.  The road was quick to descend as always, and we were packed up and heading back down the road before 3pm.  In all, it was a surprisingly good day of touring and skiing!  Thanks to everyone who came out!

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Mt. Brew (Sea-to-Sky)

Trip Date: Oct 5, 2013

Participants: Wayne Pattern, Christian Molgat, Steve Pollack, Alison Coolican, David Puddicombe, James Lamers, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1/2

Report: Our original plans to head up Cypress Peak scuttered due to a large amount of fresh snow falling in the days before this trip, I looked at a map and changed destination to Mt. Brew, which we ascended via the “winter route” trail and whose trailhead lies only a couple km away from the Cypress Peak trailhead up the Roe Creek main.  The last 1.5 km or so to the trailhead require a 4wd vehicle due to the steepness and looseness of the road, but was otherwise drivable by one of our party member’s Honda Accord.

We departed the trailhead just past 10am under low overcast skies, and after about 30 minutes hit both snow and fog.  Up to Brew Lake the snow was firm enough to be easily traversable without snowshoes, but past the lake those of us who brought snowshoes were very grateful to have them as the rest of the party spent much time postholing in the boulder fields on the route towards the Brew Hut.  On the way up we caught up to a VOC work party led by Roland Burton heading in to replace some windows in the hut, and after this, eventually reached the hut at about 12:40, where we stopped to enjoy a nice lunch in the fog.

We departed the hut for the summit of Mt. Brew at 1:10, and made it to the summit in no time as we were standing on the top at 1:30, once again in total fog and without any views whatsoever.  Bored by the whiteness, we didn’t stay long and soon started on our way down to the cars, which we arrived at before 4pm, making for a very relaxed trip of less than 6 hours.  The terrain in general is very mellow and the trail is pleasant enough, it’s just too bad that we couldn’t see a thing at all for the entire day.

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Mt. Sedgwick

Trip Date: July 13-14, 2013

Participants: Thomas Bissig, Ed Fischer, Helen Habgood, Darrell Harrington, David Overall, Ilze Rupners, Pavel Sorokin, Christina Williams, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger (organizer and reporter)

Difficulty: 2 (some scrambling, much bushwhacking)

Report: I’ve stared at Mt. Sedgwick from highway 99 countless times over pretty much my entire life, but I never took advantage of the easy access to Woodfibre prior to the closure of the mill and ferry in early 2006.  Access today involves obtaining permission to dock at Woodfibre from its owners as well as arranging for a water taxi to take you over and pick you up, which can be costly.  Luckily for me, there are many others in the same situation and I was able to round up a group of 10 BCMC and ACC members to split the cost of the water taxi and head over for a long two days to the now rarely visited peak.

We began by catching a water taxi from Squamish at 9am on the Saturday that got us over to Woodfibre where we were met by one of the on-site weekend staff members (the site is still used for electricity generation) who took our contact info, showed us which road to start walking up, and sent us on our way.  The road behind the town switchbacks up steeply for just over 3km (ignore all new logging spurs) to a water intake facility, where the correct route takes the right hand branch just prior to the facility.  From here, it continues up Woodfibre creek for another 3km or so before reaching a footbridge over the creek and the start of the trail up to Henriette Lake.  Note that while the bridge is somewhat damaged it is still easy to cross and the creek is small enough anyways that it would be easy to cross without a bridge.

Across the bridge, the trail up to Henriette Lake is pleasant and in very good condition and we were up at the lake at noon, just 2.5 hours from when we started.  The hut is still in decent condition, albeit mouse infested.  The helipad at the lake made a great platform to relax and eat lunch before we headed off to see if the trail up to the ridge above Sylvia Lake was still in passable condition (which was considered perhaps the biggest unknown of the trip a priori).  Well… the trail is still followable (just continue on the obvious path past the helipad), and still well marked (some flagging, many markers on trees), but is badly overgrown in many places leading up to the ridge (my guess is that in another 5 years it will be getting hard to follow in places).  Nonetheless, everyone whacked through the bush in good spirits and we made our way up to the point on the ridge directly above Sylvia Lake.

In exchange for permission to dock at Woodfibre, we had agreed to help out the owners by taking photos of the outlet of Sylvia Lake, and Thomas, Ed, and myself went down to find the outlet.  Going down to the lake took only a few minutes, but it didn’t take long heading around the lake to find a small cliff blocking our progress around the lake.  Stubbornly refusing to walk back the way we went down and take the easy way around the cliff, Thomas led us straight up through the bush.  60 degree bush, occasionally wet, this was most definitely the crux of the trip for us, our struggles completely unbeknownst to the rest of our party who were sunbathing and waiting back on the ridge.  From here it was straightforward down to the outlet of the lake where photos were taken and we hustled back to meet everyone else and continue our way towards Mt. Roderick.

The ridge has some substantial up and down as it contours around Woodfibre Lake, but the footbed was well defined and the trail easy to follow at least 90% of the time.  The ridge is open enough that whenever we lost the trail it was always quickly stumbled upon again, and just as we started to tire we found ourselves at a beautiful camping spot on the ridge, approximately 1km SW of the summit of Mt. Roderick, a bit over 13km from where we started hiking.  The weather and views were incredible all evening, and a great time relaxing was had by all.

The next morning we woke up at 5am, with the goal of getting moving by 6.  The route from here to the summit of Mt. Sedgwick was straightforward, but long (still over 5km to go), and not always quick (some lower parts bushy, some higher parts bouldery), but everyone was on the summit of Mt. Sedgwick by 9:45.  Success at last!

On the summit we enjoyed great views of the Tantalus range to the north, of the Sky Pilot area to the east, and the rarely visited areas around Phantom Mountain and Tzoonie Mountain to the west.  Of course, we also filled our names into the summit register, and brought down an old summit register (including humourous complaints about awful weather dating back to the 1940s) to be donated to the BCMC or ACC archives.  Shortly after 10 we departed, knowing that we still had over 18km of walking ahead of us to make it back to Woodfibre.

We were back in camp before 1, and on the trail again with our packs fully loaded shortly after 1:30.  From here the going was easy as we knew the route from before and made it down to Henriette Lake at about 4 o’clock for a much needed break.  Some of us rested on the helipad, others swam in the lake, and others explored the cabin, but half an hour later it was time to make a call to the water taxi (there is cell reception near the dam) to arrange to be picked up, and we started on our way down.  The road was agony, the worst part of the trip, but it eventually ended, and everyone was down and waiting by the dock by the time the boat came to pick us up at 7:00.  Sitting in the water taxi and gazing back at Mt. Sedgwick as we headed back to Squamish I was exhausted, but filled with the satisfaction of having conquered the peak at last with a fantastic group of people.  Thank you everyone for the great weekend!

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Watersprite Lake Skiing

Trip Date: Jan 27, 2013

Participants: Lisa Quattrocchi, Dave Scanlon, Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report: The provincial government granted the BCMC (BC Mountaineering Club) a tenure to construct a hut at Watersprite Lake 3-4 years ago, but no hut has been constructed yet.  There are numerous reasons for this, including that much energy towards hut construction has been focussed lately on the Spearhead Huts project, that it requires a lot of volunteer time and energy to build a hut, and also that the Watersprite Lake area simply isn’t familiar to most outdoors enthusiasts in south west BC.  It is this last point that Dave is trying to remedy by leading numerous trips this winter into the area.

We began our day by meeting at St. David’s just before 6:30, from where we headed up towards Squamish, where we turned onto the Mamquam FSR just past the apron parking lot and headed up the nicely plowed road up to the construction site for the Skookum Power Project.  Until construction is finished, it is important to call ahead to the power project to let them know that you’re coming, and when you arrive, somebody will come down, sign you in, and escort you from the security checkpoint up to the top of the construction area (~3-4km distance), where you can park and start up the road system towards Watersprite Lake (note: 4×4 required to negotiate mud through the construction site).

We departed the cars at 8:30, and made our way up the road system.  Not far from the cars we encountered snowshoe tracks from a party that had headed up the lake a day or two before us, and these greatly eased the need to break trail for much of the ascent.  To get to the lake, you head straight up the road until reaching a flagged branch road to the left (30-40 mins from car), which is followed north as it contours around a ridge.  Once in the valley and above some obvious meadows on the flat bottom, you descend from the road to the meadows, and follow along the north side of the creek on the meadow bottom until reaching the slope at the east end of the area.  From here, instead of ascending up the steep creek bed directly to Watersprite Lake, ascend the obvious lightly-treed avalanche path just to the south (right) of the forest that the creek ascends through, and then traverse through open terrain above the trees back towards the creek.  The proposed hut location is right where you first hit the lake, near its outflow into the creek.  In all, including breaks it took us 3.5 hours to the lake.

At the lake we stopped for lunch, and then, as we had informed the crew at the power project that we wouldn’t be back at the cars until 4:30, we crossed the lake and ascended up to the next basin (to the left of the impressive Watersprite Tower) in order to get in some more exploration and some more skiing.  The lighting was a bit flat, which made for difficult skiing near our turnaround point, but we shortly encountered better visibility and had fantastic powder for our ski back down past the lake to the meadows below.  Interestingly, although the slopes didn’t show any signs of instability on our ski down, as soon as I crossed the creek down at the meadow, the snow bank on the opposite shore (perhaps 3m high) slid down into the creek on a weak layer about 30cm down all as one consolidated slab.

From reaching the meadows, it was quick and uneventful to cross them, make the short ascent back to the road, and then contour back around the ridge to the main road, which is sufficiently steep to make for a fun descent.  In all, I was impressed by the area and think it would make a great location for a hut.  It is close to Vancouver, easily accessible, and with no fewer than 6 peaks to climb as short day trips from the lake, there is plenty of terrain that could be easily enjoyed in winter or summer.  Thank you Dave for taking us up there!

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Tricouni Peak

Trip Date: September 8

Participants: Andrzej Jarzabek, Paul Ng, Arnold Witzig, Will ?, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2/3.  Easy scrambling, some mild exposure on route

Report: I bought myself a used Jeep Liberty two weeks ago, and now having a 4×4 I decided to change the destination of my trip on the BCMC schedule to Tricouni Peak, which is essentially inaccessible with a 2wd car.  The trip was scheduled for the same day as the Vancouver-Whistler GranFondo bike race, but a bit of investigation revealed that the first road closures would be at 7:15 in Porteau Cove, and so by leaving Vancouver early enough, I determined that we would be able to stay ahead of the road closures and make it up the Squamish Valley to High Falls Creek.

We met at the Chevron station at Boundary & Dominion at 6:15, and quickly head off for Squamish, reaching Squamish at around 7:30, and made our way up the Squamish valley, and then up the High Falls Creek road network.  There is one nasty section of road about 2.5km from the Tricouni Meadows parking area, but after this the road is in fairly good shape until less than 1 km from the landing at the end of the road.  This last section of road is in really rough shape, but we pressed on to the end, and were able to set off on the trail a bit past 9 o’clock.  At this point, the weather was cool and sunny, but it would soon warm up rapidly.

The Tricouni Meadow trail is easy to follow, but ridiculously muddy until near the first lake.  From the first lake, we quickly ascended to the second and third lakes, and from there on up the standard route towards the summit of Tricouni.  The lakes are clear and turquoise, and the flowers in the meadows above the third lake were in full bloom.

We took our time on the ascent and descent, stopping frequently to enjoy the views and the warm atmosphere, but nonetheless were on the summit about 4 hours 15 minutes from when we started.  The route is primarily a hike, but the there is a short scrambling section about 30 minutes below the summit, and the last 10 minutes up the summit ridge itself are over enjoyable scrambling terrain, with mild exposure.  The summit of Tricouni itself is fantastic, with nice places to sit, and views all around.

We lounged about on the summit for nearly an hour, and departed just past 2.  The descent was quick and easy, and we had the time to stop at the first lake for a while, where Arnold and Andrzej summoned the courage to go for a quick swim.  From the first lake it was back to the mud below, and finally back to the cars.  Including the swim stop, the descent took just a few minutes over 3 hours, completing a great trip to cap the summer.


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Lake Lovely Water

Trip Date: August 17-19

Participants: David Carne, Michelle Lapin, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Staying at Lake Lovely Water and the Tantalus Hut has been on my list for years now for its beauty, quality of hut, and remarkable closeness to Squamish.  Luckily, Britt had the foresight a few months ago to make reservations at the hut and to take it upon herself to organize a trip to the hut and to explore the area around it.  Thank you Brittany!


We had an early start from New Westminster on Saturday in order to arrive with plenty of time to spare before our scheduled helicopter flight at 8:30, and arrived at the Squamish airport to find that Black Tusk Helicopter’s large helicopter had been commandeered for fire fighting duty.  No worry, they had a smaller helicopter available and their masterful pilot, Steve, had both loads of us and our gear up to the heli landing area near the hut by 9:30 or so.  It was my first time in a helicopter, and I had a great time flying in to the hut.  I think I’ll have to try and do more heli-access trips in the future!

The weather was warm and beautiful as we arrived at the hut, and we took our time to unpack our stuffed bags (fresh food on a backcountry trip!) and introduce ourselves to the party of VOC and MECers that had arrived just before us and that was going to be staying at the hut until Wednesday.  Nonetheless, as the forecast had been poor for Sunday, we got ourselves ready to head up towards Pelops and Niobe and departed for them some time around 11.

The initial route into the Omega-Niobe basin is straightforward, and we didn’t have any trouble finding our way onto the flatish part of the glacier that needs to be crossed on the way up to the Omega-Iota col.  Nonetheless, we definitely took a route higher and further to the right than the one indicated in Gunn’s book (we went right and over the “prominent grey buttress” instead of left of it).  I can see why some parties would feel it unnecessary to rope up for the short glacier crossing, but you never want to end up the idiot at the bottom of a crevasse with a rope in your bag, and so we put on our harnesses and roped up to cross the glacier.  Once across, it is easy to follow a fun series of class 2 ramps and ledges up to the Omega-Iota col, and from the col, despite its steep appearance, we quickly and easily made our way up Iota.

From the summit of Iota we had our first glimpse of the incoming weather system, and didn’t linger long before descending the backside to the Iota-Pelops col.  The scramble down had some unexpected moderate exposure, but is quite easy, and from the bottom, we made our way to the left through the dense krummholz to the trail leading up Pelops, and in short time found ourselves on the summit.  From here, it is reportedly a quick jaunt of less than 30 minutes over to Niobe, and there didn’t appear to be any major difficulties to be surmounted to get there, but we had started to hear thunder and see lightning approaching from the south west and made the hard call to turn around without bagging Niobe.  I’ll have to head back someday to get Niobe, perhaps by a different route, such as the NE ridge.

Heading down from Pelops, over Iota, and back down to the lake was easy and uneventful and despite the visible rain and lightning in the distance, it never reached us.  We were back at the hut just as the evening was darkening and settled in for a great dinner made with fresh ingredients.  As we had been up early, the four of us headed to bed early and slept long into the next morning.


With a poor Sunday forecast, we had made the decision to spend the day exploring the lake, and after a long sleep and relaxing breakfast, we headed out in the late morning to take out one of the row boats on the dock by the hut.  As soon as we got into the row boat, however, we noticed that it leaked!  Luckily we had the foresight to go back to the hut and grab a pot to use to bail out the boat periodically and keep it afloat as we explored the lake.  We spent all day exploring the lake and docking at its various beaches, and while we were doing so the weather continually improved, so that by the time we went back to the hut in the late afternoon it was once again a hot, sunny day.  As on the previous day, we enjoyed a wonderful meal of noodles and fresh vegetables and settled in for a comfortable evening in the hut, passing the time away playing a version of Trivial Pursuit left in the hut by another party.


Monday was always going to be a quiet day as we had an afternoon helicopter pick up to catch.  Nonetheless, we made the most of the time we had and followed the flagged approach trail up to the east shoulder of Alpha.  Someday I’d love to come back and climb the East Ridge of Alpha, and it seemed worthwhile to check out the approach route.  Alpine Select says that there isn’t much of a route, but we found it easy to follow on the ground, and generally well flagged.  At our high point we could see a group coming down after being fogged off of the East Ridge of Alpha.  Although the weather was good below and the day had a great forecast, the East Ridge and summit of Alpha were shrouded in dense fog, rendering it unclimbable that day… such is the unpredictability of mountain weather.

Steve returned to pick us up a bit before 3 o’clock, and once again made two trips to pick up our gear and us.  The flights were short and sweet, and by 3:30 we were sitting on the patio at the Watershed, enjoying a warm and clear summer’s day with a great view back up to Alpha and where we were.  Lake Lovely Water really is a beautiful spot.  I was actually surprised by the ruggedness of the terrain and the lack of hikes within a typical hiker’s ability.   Nonetheless, it is surrounded by a wealth of challenging scrambling and moderate mountaineering routes, and I hope to get back there in the next year or two with the time to tackle some of those routes.

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