I’ve been enjoying terrific weather up here (hopefully, the calm before the winter storm!). It’s been cool exploring different rock climbing areas in the PNW, or PSW for all you Canadians. This past week Kirk emailed me a picture of Yak Peak, In British Columbia, we agreed to give it a try. A 13 pitch granite dome 2 hours from Bellingham, Washington? Yes please!
Thursday after work at K2 (I’m doing an internship there) I drove from Seattle to Bellingham, and Kirk drove 2 hours more to the pullout on the side of the Coquihalla Highway. It was dark by the time we arrived, but we could barely make out the outline of Yak Peak against the stars. We went to sleep to the stacatto of jake brakes, and woke at 5:30. I’ve only ever driven this road at night, so it was cool to wake up to the surroundings of BC. Yak Peak looked just as impressive as it had in the photos.
I have heard that crowding can be a problem on this route, and and just as I like to seek out backcountry skiing that’s not exposed to human hazards, I enjoy not climbing below others, especially on routes with sections of choss. We tried to get going early to beat any other climbers. After a bit of driving up and down the highway attempting to find the correct turnout, we began the short hike. We reached the base quickly, and I realized I forgot to bring some water to chug before the climb. All we had was one liter between us for the climb. Oh well, we scrambled up to the base of the first pitch, and I started out. The first pitches were an excellent hand crack, although I wouldn’t have minded if it was a little steeper.
We swung leads for the rest of the route, encountering some fun, varied climbing. I had been warned that some of the rock on this route is a bit crumbly, and indeed some sections resembled kitty liter, but they proved to be easy and short. Opinions seem to vary as to the difficulty of the crux sections. They definitely didn’t feel like 5.10 to me, more like 5.9.
With 13 pitches under our belts, we arrived on top around 4:00 and enjoyed the view for a bit. I have a bad habit of not stopping to eat when I’m climbing, so I ate a bit and we gulped the remainder of our water, before heading down. We arrived back at the car almost exactly twelve hours after waking up, and sat on the side of the highway devouring chips and beer, before starting the long trip home.
It was exciting to get on some British Columbian rock outside of the Squamish area, and it didn’t disappoint. Although Yak might be more crowded on a weekend, definitely recommended. I managed to get a few pics. Enjoy.
(Blogger Louie Dawson is WildSnow progeny. He is currently studying industrial design at Western Washington University and lives in Bellingham and Seattle, depending. Winters are consumed with school and backcountry skiing, summers are time for other mountain sports.)