(Editor’s note: Lisa and I are at the Dynafit press event in Europe, up in the Dolomite. We’ll start filing reports soon. Meanwhile, Louie got us off the hook here so we can enjoy another stein and chat up the locals. I’m getting all sorts of good backstory on all the new products. Stay tuned. Lou)
School starts today, and I’m looking back on an incredible winter break. It started with wonderful, decidedly non-PNW powder in the Selkirks. Back on the coast, a small high pressure system settled over the region during the last few days of break. Kirk and I decided to head up to the Burton Hut on Garibaldi Lake, in BC.
After border hassles, and a shopping stop in Whistler, we made it to the trailhead at 10:00 am. The trail in was exciting, as the sun warmed the trees, icy tree bombs started dropping on the trail every few seconds. One hit me square in the head, but we managed do dodge the majority.
By the time we reached the lake, the sun was setting. The slog across the lake was flat, cold, and much longer than it looked. We reached the hut, and met a few other folks, from Washington and Canada, who had been skiing in the area the past few days (thanks for the skintracks!).
With clear weather the next morning we decided to explore the peaks near the hut, above the Sphinx Glacier. The lake gathers cold air in the basin, so I woke up and started out bundled up in almost all my layers. Soon enough the sun hit, and it warmed up a bit, although the air temp was still nice and cool. Lucky for us, the temps would hopefully keep the cloudless sky from creating wet slides in the afternoon.
We climbed to the top of Mt. Carr, and quickly skied down onto the Cheakamus Glacier, in order to climb Castle Towers Mountain. We briefly looked at the steep NW face, but the early season conditions of the glacier convinced us otherwise. Instead we skied back down to the Cheakamus Glacier, and headed over to Mt. Davidson. Using our last bit of light, we made it to the top of Davidson, a steep face rising straight above the glacier. We were treated to excellent views of the Spearhead Range, Cheakamus Lake, the Garibaldi Neve, and many other regions of the Coast Mountains. At the top we quickly changed over, and skied wind buffed pow back down to the basin. Soon the sun set, and the cold air hit us like we opened the freezer door. We made our way up to a point on the ridge between Carr and Castle Towers, named Phylis’ Engine. From there we found a small slot in the rocks, and skied down back to the hut, through intermittent pow and sun-crust.
Encouraged by the stellar blue skies of the day, we planned to head out further, and ski Mount Garibaldi the next day. Garibaldi has been on my list for a while, as it is one of the most prominent peaks in the area, and during summer climbing in Squamish, you are staring right at it. However, I’ve never given it a try.
We started the skin across the lake early, and as the sun rose the skies were mostly clear, with a few clouds here and there. When we reached Sentinel Glacier col, and got our first glimpse of the peak, the clouds began to move in. Hoping for a break, we kept going. The scattered clouds and fog made for beautiful scenery, and I always enjoy exploring new areas. When we reached the col between the summit of Garibaldi and the Tent, it was obvious the clouds had moved in for good. We were mostly whited out, so we simply followed our tracks back down.
Even though we didn’t summit, we still had a nice, long tour, but got back to the hut well before dark. The next day we woke to zero viz and blowing snow. We went back to sleep, slept in a bit, then decided to head out and see what we could ski. We wandered up Mount Deception, following some old skin tracks (thanks again!). We reached a group of rocks that, in the whiteout, appeared to be the top, and headed back down. Eager for some tree skiing, we decided to head across the lake to Mt.Price.
As the evening drew closer, and we encountered some fresh, touchy wind slabs, we decided to turn around from just below the top of Price. Once we entered the trees, the skiing was great; bouncing through pillows in the fresh snow. Darkness, and a more intense blizzard hit once we got back onto the lake. It was nice to finally hole up in the cabin for the night. About a foot of fresh had fallen by morning, and the bad weather continued, so we decided to head out. After another surreal whiteout lake crossing we skied the fast and death-defying trail back to the car.
I’ve wanted to get up to the Garibaldi Lake area for a while. It always looks enticing from Whistler, and it certainly was!