Climbing Rainbow Mountain - Late September 2009

Climbing Rainbow Mountain near Whistler, BC - September, 2009

On Friday morning, Mark and I drove to Whistler, parked at the Rainbow trail head, and hiked the couple of hours into the alpine meadows around Rainbow Lake. It was a spectacular early fall day, with blue bird skies and mountains full of the largest wild blue berries I've ever seen. There were very few people on the trail. We stashed our camping gear at the end of the lake, and hiked up to the ridge between Rainbow and Hanging Lake. From there we headed north along a small creek towards Beverly Lake. We left the trail as it started to become a little vague, heading up the boulder strewn gully towards a large flat topped bluff.

Following the creek up through talus slopes to a small snow filled bowl, we headed north again onto a soggy glacier, and scrambled up left through loose rock to an exposed knife edge ridge line. A prominent rock tower guards the northern end of the ridge, and it took a few delicate moves to pass around it's eastern side. From there it was an easy scramble up a gully the rocky approach to the false south summit. A short walk north brought us to the true summit of Rainbow Mountain.

The views up there were endless, looking across at the Pemberton Icefields, the Elaho and Ashlu range, the Tantalus, and from Garibaldi past Whistler, Blackcomb and Wedgemount all the way north to Mount Curry. The Place Glacier and Joffre Groups could be seen in the distance. Flags along the ridge to the north of the summit marked the standard drop-off point for the Whistler Heli Skiing operation.

A cold brisk wind had us heading back down sooner than we would have liked, but it was 5:30pm, and there was only a short amount of light left. The way down was a lot more obvious than the way up, and we found a faster route by staying further south than we'd come up. Night fell as we descended into alpine meadows, and it took a little wandering around to locate the goat trail back to camp. The long day made dinner taste all the better, and we slept under a clear star filled sky by the lake.

The next day we got up for an early breakfast and headed back down the trail, tired from the previous days activities, pleased to have explored such a beautiful peak.

Photos and maps for the trip can be found here.

Climbing Mt.Habrich's North-West Route - September 2009

Climbing Mt.Habrich's North-West Route - September, 2009

On Saturday, following an afternoon of climbing at Murrin Park, David and I headed up the forest services road beside the Chief near Squamish. We parked near the locked gate of the deactivated Stawamus/Indian FSR, packed camping and climbing gear into light packs, and headed up the logging road for an hour and half hiking in the dark towards the valley above Shannon Creek. A little nervous after so many cougar attacks this summer, we made lots of noise. The stars were out, the moon was not, but bright headlamps made the going easy. We camped on level ground in the middle of the road between two creek crossings, cooked up an Indian curry dinner, and washed it down with a good bottle of red.

Sunday morning, 6am. After a quick breakfast, we broke camp, and stashed our gear back from the road in the trees. A couple of hours of hiking up double track brought us to the approach trail heading up to the base of Mt. Habrich. The trail was steep and loose, overgrown to the point of being difficult to find, but after a few hours we arrived at the vertical headwall of the southern face of Habrich. We hiked up to the western col, looking out over Mt. Garibaldi. We roped up, and started climbing.

Well, scrambling really. For six or seven pitches, we traversed right, then left, then right again. Mostly we were moving around on tiny blueberry covered dirt ledges stuck very loosely to the rock. There was not much in the way of gear, mostly we slung some tape unconvincingly around the occasional alder bush, and there was rarely a technical move. It was easy to get lost up there. The guidebook we'd read described the route as "nebulous", which I assume is French for rubbish, but we eventually wandered our way to the summit. The crux of the day was finding the rappel station off the summit. After scrambling around on a lot of loose rock, and bush bashing through blueberry and alder to the right and left, we somehow managed to find the top anchor chain bolted to the rock. Five rappels later we were back at the base of the mountain, and hiked our way back out to the car.

While the route we chose was not necessarily to be recommended, there are a number of more solid routes to be done up there, and the views of Sky Pilot, the Tantalus Range, and Black Tusk and Garibaldi are truly amazing. Next time we'll probably take bikes in for a large part of the logging road, and try a less "nebulous" route.

Photos and maps for the trip can be found here.

Mt.Baker Mountaineering Trip - Easton Glacier - August 2009

Mt.Baker Mountaineering Trip - Late August, 2009

Mark, Ryan and I drove down to Washington State on a Saturday morning, and hiked to high camp on the southern slopes of Mount Baker. We passed through Schriebers Meadow, crossing glacier fed streams, and into the high alpine meadows along Railroad Grade, a trail along a moraine wall named for it's consistent six degree gradient. Camped on a small ridge above Marmot filled and boulder strewn meadows, we could see the bare rock above us turn to the icy crevassed glacier leading up to Mount Baker's summit plateau.

After a quick reconnaissance of the next days route, and a scout for potable water, we turned in early as Venus rose in a clear star strewn sky.

3:30 AM, we crawled out of warm sleeping bags, rushed down breakfast, and started up the trail. An hour later we donned crampons and ice axes, roped up, and stepped out onto the Easton Glacier. For hours we slogged up an ever steepening glacier, navigating through crevasses and seracs until we gained the summit plateau. A short hike further and we climbed the pimple of rock that is the Mount Baker summit. A couple of pictures, a stare at the steaming pit of Mt. Baker's only active vent, and we turned around to head back down the glacier that never ends.

After a quick snooze back at camp, we ate the rest of our food, and hiked back to the car. Hard to believe how much you can pack into a couple of days, eh!

Photos and maps for the trip can be found here.

Wapta Icefields Ski Traverse - The Rockies - March 2009

Wapta ski Traverse

Shannon, Trevor and I set off in mid March for a 5 day, 4 hut traverse of the Wapta Icefields in the Alberta and B.C.'s Waputik Range in the Central Rockies. We headed into the mountains at Peyto Lake near the top of the Icefields Parkway in the Rockies, climbing to Peyto Hut via the Peyto Glacier. From there we climbed over a rise to drop down to the popular Bow Hut. After passing between St.Nicholas Peak and Mount Olive we ploughed our way down the Vulture Glacier to Balfour Hut. Balfour Pass then provided some challenges before we skied down the Waputik Glacier to Duncan Scott Hut in near white out conditions. Finally, we headed down the Niles Glacier Past Mt.Niles into the Sherbrooke drainage to a car we'd dropped on Hwy 1 just west of Lake Louise.

Difficult conditions made for arduous travel, with deep snow, strong winds and poor visibility for most of the trip. Route finding was tricky when the light was good, and "interesting" when your ski pole disappeared into the blizzard and fog. None-the-less, each night saw us safely ensconced in warm dry cabins. We met plenty of interesting people on the trip, many with helpful pointers for the route ahead. Balfour Pass, Mt.Niles and the steep trees above Sherbrooke Creek put our skills to the test. The beers back at Lake Louise Alpine Hostel were well deserved.

Photos and maps for the trip can be found here.

Trevor's report on the trip can be found here:

Fairy Meadows Ski Trip - Adamant Range, Selkirks - February 2009

Wapta ski Traverse

Ten of us from Vancouver drove out to Golden, BC, a little west of The Rockies, to catch a Helicopter into a "luxury" Alpine Club of Canada Cabin in Fairy Meadows, a high alpine meadow in the Selkirks surrounded by the Granite and Gothics Glacier. This area is a powder paradise, stretching north and south as far as your skis could take you.

Typical Selkirks/Rockies flat light and fog forced us to ski the deep powder in the trees for most of the trip. We managed to venture up into higher terrain, one day boot packing up to Friendship Col to the Gargoyles Glacier, between Mounts Pythius and Damon at the top of the Echo Glacier. Another day we roped up and ventured out onto the Granite Glacier, up towards Pioneer Col. Pioneer Col had a huge bergschrund and overhanging seracs making access to the pass a little more technical than we'd planned for the day, so we instead headed over the NE ridge of Mt.Colossal to a keyhole pass just south of Enterprise Peak.

Each night we headed back to the cabin, where a fire had been started in the wet sauna, and cooked up a voluminous gourmet multi course meal. There are some definite advantages to helicopter travel and cabins in the winter.

Photos and maps for the trip can be found here.

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