Monthly Archives: September 2011

Castle Towers 24/09/11

Evgeny doing Castle Towers in a day:
“Three of us joined in an effort to make a one day megahike to Castle Towers mountain. We started at 8:20 am and in 2 hours reached Helm Meadows campsite area. As we decided against the glacier traveling we went up Gentian Ridge along the moraine near Helm Peak. Instead of getting to the top of the ridge initially we started traversing it on the side, which was initially easier but ended up as a bad idea when the slope became too steep, so we ended up scrambling to the top of the ridge anyway. Ridge walking was easy though we noticed a strong wind that was making some difficulties to walk. We had lunch right after we bagged Fuscian Peak which is the highest bump along this ridge, which has about 5 or 6 bumps between the Helm Peak and the top of the Helm Glacier. It was a clear day with few clouds before we started descending to Gentian Pass. After that clouds covered most of the sky but we were lucky that all the rain passed us by.

We reached the top of Polemonium Ridge at 3:15 pm and realized that we need to go a substantial part down again to pass the gap between Polemonium Ridge and Castle Towers mountain itself. The descent was a nice-looking but unpleasant to scramble narrow gully filled with loose rocks that required careful walking to prevent stones to fall on the heads of people who were scrambling below. The slope of Castle Towers from the western side is a huge boulder field, which still had a last year snow fields on it. On the way up we went over the snow but on the way down we avoided them because they were shallow and steep. At 5:05 pm we summitted the west sub-summit spending 8 hours 45 minutes for ascent. We made a short break there for food and rest and went back soon after. The views were awesome but it was hard to take pictures because the wind was really strong. We made up the narrow gully before the sunset, which was at 7 pm.

Darkness fell when we were descending from Polemonium Ridge to Gentian Pass. Due to GPS visualization problems of long tracks we couldn’t trace our steps back so we used our own route finding and GPS map coordinates to get back to the car with head lamps. We got back on Gentian Ridge and scrambled our way under the gorgeous clear skies full of stars. Those skies were clear for a reason. The wind was very strong and at some mildly exposed sections of the ridge we were literally crawling to avoid being blown off the ridge. At 11 pm we stopped for a snack behind one of the bumps that protected us from the wind turned off the head lamps and enjoyed absolutely beautiful stars in the sky. Then we proceeded along the ridge looking for a convenient scramble down. That wasn’t easy with headlamps but we successfully descended to the meadows and at the midnight we were standing on the wide trail leading back to the parking lot. If we were going up for 2 hours, the way back down took us 3 hours 20 minutes. I didn’t feel very tired and had no blisters at all but soles of my feet were so beaten up by just stomping them for already 16 hours that it was unpleasant to step on them. I had no doubt that my companions felt at least the same. Nevertheless, we endured the last part of the hike in the dark forest and at 3:20 am after exactly 19 hours of hiking we were back at the car. Hey, that wasn’t all for me, I was driving back to Vancouver till 6 am… The driving was also epic but that’s another story. 🙂

Soundtrack of a hike:
For detailed report see:

Castle Towers Mountain 24.09.2011 145

Yak Peak 17/09/11

Irina on Yak Peak:
“The forecast looked quite discouraging for the weekend, but hoping for the famed “Coquihalla high pressure vortex”, Evgeny did a Wanderung callout. Joined by myself and one other brave soul, off we went into the never ending drizzle.

It was chilly above the tree line where we were greeted by falling snow. Better than rain, but our gloves were soaking wet and hands – freezing! September: time to start carrying ski gloves…

With visibility on the poorer side, we poked around looking for ways on or around the snow fields, eventually reaching the summit. No surprise that we no longer felt inclined to continue along the ridge to Nak, let alone Thar. For one, we couldn’t see either; for the other, the perspective of a wet snowy bushwhack down did not appeal. A unanimous decision was to postpone lunch until back in the warmth of the vehicle. So we hurried down to below the snow line, but not before adding more layers and taking a few summit pictures!

Driving through Chilliwack around 2:15pm, we encountered bright sunny skies. Wrong time, wrong place for a hiking choice this weekend :(. Yak is a very pleasant short scramble though! See Irina’s report and pictures on Livetrails.”

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Overlord Mtn 10/09/11

Evgeny on Overlord Mountain:
“Three of us started the megahike at 8:30 am from the parking lot near the Blackcomb gondola. At a relaxed pace we reached Russet Lake right before noon and after a short break moved towards Whirlwind Peak. The weather was as epic as our hike with clear blue skies and warm air. 🙂 On the way up we put on crampons and with the help of ice axes ascended via a pocket glacier to the saddle between the Fissile and Whirlwind Peaks. From there we crossed the top of the pocket glacier and ended up on the Whirlwind Peak at 1:50 pm. After a 30 min snack break we started totally gorgeous ridge walking towards Overlord mountain. It is mostly scrambling with small patches of snow closer to the Overlord Mountain. At 3:40 pm we reached our destination and enjoyed late lunch under severe exposure to awesomeness. We took about an hour to will ourselves to leave this beautiful mountain but we found strength and started our way back home. We summitted Whirlwind Peak again but this time we used the eastern ridge to descend from it to the plateau using snow fields for boot skiing down as much as possible. Near the first stream of water coming from the glacier we refilled our water supply using a filter that I brought with me to avoid carrying too much water. We timed perfectly as the sunset found us stepping on a wide Russet Lake trail. After Singing Pass we proceeded through the forest with head lamps. At 11:20 pm we finished the megahike at the parking lot. Due to some minor knee malfunction of one of my companions the descent took almost the same time as the ascent but nevertheless it was unbelievably good day.

This is the soundtrack of our hike:
For the detailed report see”

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Elfin Lakes 10/09/11

Stuart at Elfin Lakes:
“The Gran Fondo bike event worked in our favour with the exception of an over enthusiastic volunteer who closed off the Sea to Sky Hwy at Horseshoe Bay at 5am instead of 6.30am. After a short detour through Horseshoe Bay and breakfast in Squamish four diehards set of at the trailhead at 6.50am. We had the whole trail to ourselves in the morning and hiked the ridge in the shade as the sun was still low in the sky. We arrived at Elfin Lakes at 9.30am and lucked out as the water was like glass providing amazing reflections of the backdrops. The cabin was fairly empty with just a few hikers who came in the night before. After 1 ½ hours at the Lakes the group decided to take in the Gargoyles as it was still morning and we thought we would be able to get away from the persistent black flies to eat lunch but no such luck. Heading up the Saddle Trail and the additional 6km hike/scramble to the Gargoyles is rewarded with amazing vistas of Columnar Peak, and back towards Elfin Lakes. Watch out for the small blue frozen lake to the North, but even cooler was the hiker at the summit reading a Kindle. We returned to Elfin Lakes for a dip to cool off in the refreshing glacial waters before heading back to the parking lot. Parts of the ridge and Saddle Trails are still covered in snow providing a means to cool off.”


Harrison Lake 10/09/11

Susie D. checking out lakes near Harrison Hot Springs:
“This turned out to be a stellar idea for a day trip! On a hot sunny day it was great to mix swimming with hiking. We first hiked the Whippoorwill Trail at Harrison Lake. It was somewhat offputting to see all the dead salmon floating in the lake after spawning, but we got used to the idea. We then swam at a little sandy bay away from the main Harrison beach. We shared the bay with an guy with a houseboat named the Pimp, but declined his invitation to join him for an afternoon of partying. After gelatos in Harrison we headed on to Hicks Lake in Sasquatch Provincial Park. What a pretty lake! We hiked a couple of km to the far end, where there was a quiet beach that we only had to share with a couple of other groups – space for all. The water was warm, fantastically clear, and we spent quite a long time in the water. After drying off and hanging out on the beach for a bit it was time to head back to town, with a stop at the organic hazelnut store on the way back. We all returned armed with hazelnut butter. The objective of the day was to have a relaxing day away from the city, and we definitely achieved our objective.”

Musical Bumps 03/09/11

Carollyne on the Musical Bumps:
“Beautiful meadows in bloom, snow fields, a lovely lake, views of glaciers and distant peaks are what we found on this 10 hour day hike. The trail up from Whistler seems a lot easier than the elevation gain would indicate, due to the gradual grade, smooth condition of the trail and the relatively easy creek crossings. Harmony Creek still has no bridge, but the water levels are low enough so it is not difficult to cross. Flute Creek’s bridge is split in the middle and seemed slippery enough that most of us opted to wade across the creek. Louise actually got across with dry boots. The fork in the trail where left goes to Russet Lake and right goes to Musical Bumps appears below the pass, unlike what 103 Hikes indicates. With plenty of time and energy we took the left fork to Russet and were very glad we did. The contrast between the meadows and glaciated rock and snow fields as well as the beautiful lake was fantastic. The hut was very clean and unoccupied, but small enough you could not depend on using it for an overnighter. We had lunch at lakeside following Andrew’s swim. Returning from the lake, we could not find any shortcut trail directly across the pass to the Musical Bumps, so we had to go back to the main fork and hike back up to the bumps. The Oboe “bump”, the first one on the return trip, has the steepest incline, but they all are up and down. There is no water on this return trip until below the last bump, so if you go this way, fill up at the lake. There seem to be some missing signage, so we did not find High Note trail on the return. After the bumps, we took the trail that follows Symphony Lake. This was a bit of a kicker… a fairly steep 3 km back to the Gondola after already hiking at least 24 km. However, it was the only trail we saw that was clearly marked “Gondola” so it seemed like the best choice. We caught the free return gondola down around 8 pm after enjoying the sunset and finished off at Splitz Grill for dinner. The gondola was running unusually late due to the BBQ package at the Roundhouse… normally this would have to be an overnighter or an extremely early start to do in one day.”


Mt MacFarlane 03/09/11

Jeremy on Mt MacFarlane:
“Four brave souls ventured out towards Chilliwack Saturday September 3rd to climb Mount MacFarlane. The drive took to the trail head took less than two hours, and was completely paved, except for the last 200 metres. Easy with 2WD. The parking lot was pretty full upon arrival, with both day hikers and overnighters parked there. 1770 metres is a lot to ascend, and the trail gets to the point and starts ascending within the first 150 metres or so of the hike. It took us three hours to get to the first lake, with few stops to rest. About one hour in, there is a sharp right turn in the trail – if you are looking down, it is easy to miss! It’s up and up and up, through lush forest, across one boulder field and crossing one creek. It’s definitely a slog. The trail was mostly dry, with a little bit of muddy sections near the lake.

The first lake is beautiful, with Mount MacFarlane staring at you from the south end of the lake, and a waterfall cascading from the upper lake, down the face of the ridge visible from the lake’s edge. There are a few flat spots for camping at the north end of the lake, which is where we camped, but there were better spots at the south end of the lake, a further 10 minutes down the trail, and then a steep descent to the lake edge.

After passing flasks around the fire for a while, we all slept well, tired from hiking, even though we had only hiked 3 hours. Sunday morning, it was just a one hour hike up to the second lake. The trail is steep in sections, but not difficult technically. It was great to hike without all our camping gear! The upper lake was still 70% frozen. It was another 45 minutes up the snow free ridge to the top of the mountain – this portion involved a tiny bit of scrambling but it was mostly hiking. At the top, the views were incredible. We could even see Mt. Rainier to the south. We hiked back down to the first lake quickly, ate lunch, packed up, swam, and headed back to the car. It’s even more of a slog down – it’s relentless down and down and down. Hiking poles definitely helped! On our way down, we passed some hikers coming up who warned us that 4 out of the 6 cars parked overnight had been broken into. Fortunately, we were one of the two cars that remained intact. The drive back was quick with no traffic. Epsom salts baths were in order to soothe sore legs from the descent.”


Panorama Ridge 03/09/11

Stuart on Panorama Ridge:
“It is amazing the difference 9 days makes, most of the alpine flowers in Taylor Meadows have wilted since our last visit. They are however abundant as you head closer towards Panorama Ridge. There is still plenty of snow on the back of the ridge so I would recommend taking hiking poles to assist in the climb. The snow provides a benefit later on as you can bum slide down between the two peaks to avoid the steep descent back down the trail. Just try to stay in the chute created by earlier sliders to avoid the snow speed bumps but be warned it does take a little while before feelings return again. You need to hit the brakes (heels) before passing over the second ridge to control your speed and you probably want to come to a complete stop before deciding to go further as this is the fastest section. The six of us returned via Taylor Meadows 9½ hours later with 1½ hours on top of the ridge. The rest certainly helps recharge the batteries for the return trip. Again, we had perfect weather and amazing views.”


Coliseum Mtn 03/09/11

Hurrian on Coliseum Mountain:
“Six of us headed up Coliseum on Saturday. After the long walk to Norvan Falls we pushed up the very steep part of the trail. Where it levels off, it was muddier than normal, probably because of the snow runoff. Even on the ridge though, there was very little snow, which is good because the very moderate and low exposure scrambles might have been a bit dodgy if they were snow covered. We made it to the summit in about 3 or so hours and had a nice lunch. Thanks to Gareth, Norbert, Iryna, Julie and Danielle for a great hike in great company.”

Cabin Lake 02/09/11

Keith at Cabin Lake (twice):
“I called out 2 trips to Cabin Lake and both went off really well. The hike is short but steep up to the lake and the water was cool and refreshing! One the first jaunt there were 7 peole and the 2nd there were 5. The first trip had about 84.56% on the Cabin Lake Swimability Index (CLSI) and we hit 100% on the second hike where everybody got in the water – the goal was the swim after all. Thanks everybody for their spontaneity on signing up with short notice on the trips!”