Mt Gandalf 21/05/11

Ben at the Brian Waddington Hut:
“Despite the dramatic disappearance of the sun this weekend, our group of five met up and headed north with hopes of finding clearer skies. The road to Birkenhead Lake was clear and in good shape all the way to the lake. We turned off at the branch immediately before the gate to the campground and parked nearby, facing 6.6 km of logging road to walk to the trailhead. Along the way we passed up a VOC group heading up with skis on their backs. At the end of the road we had lunch and let the skiers take the lead. The trail was short and very well marked as it winds up the forest along Phelix Creek. It was however challenging in the soft melting snow with heavy packs. Eventually we crested a small rise to see Long Lake and the hut awaiting us at the far side. The weather had been grey all day and it didn’t look like the situation was any more promising up here. The hut deserves its good reputation. The evening was a relaxing mix of cooking, reading selections from the library, and enjoying the skiers’ renditions of old Bob Dylan songs on the guitar.

The next morning the snow was falling and we left the hut to stretch our legs. We had no real expectation of reaching any summits, but we decided to make for Gandalf-Peregrine col and see what things looked like. After a couple of hours we found ourselves at the col having the turn around time discussion. We had plenty of extra time so we decided to invest another hour and take it a step at a time. We began to switch back up the end of the ridge leading to Mount Gandalf. We couldn’t see much but we knew that up there somewhere the white wizard was waiting. Progress was steady thanks to Brad’s trail breaking effort, and before we knew it we found ourselves standing below huge boulders. With less than 100m to gain, we knew we must be close. From here Pavel lead us on a true showshoe scramble as we moved up bare slabs, boulders, and the snow that filled the gaps between, not bothering to stop and remove the snowshoes. One final block split the group into three as we picked our preferred routes over or around the rock. After converging and counting heads, we moved on. Then out of the mist appeared the great unmistakable flake standing like the final stone on some great summit cairn. We were there! Congratulations all around! A huge thanks to Brad, Pavel, Rob, and Darcy for their contributions to this very memorable trip.”

Gandalf peak, 05/22/11

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