Monthly Archives: December 2009

Elfin Lakes 28/12/09

Carollyne at Elfin Lakes:
“Four of us headed off Monday morning on a trip with some surprises. I was quite worried about getting up the logging road in winter, but it was easy. The road up was easy to drive in a little car with snow tires – bare and frozen with some potholes, but not as many holes as on some summer trips. The 12 km winter snowshoe route was pleasant and uneventful, although the sky was overcast. Red Heather hut was warm for a break. Elfin Shelter was less than half full when we arrived just after 2 pm. Jeremy and Scott hiked about halfway up Columnar before light failed, while Su-Laine and I tootled around more casually. As the afternoon progressed, more and more skiers and snowshoers kept arriving at the hut, and we were glad we got our bunks early. Cards, wine, dinner and Jeremy’s excellent dice game made a really enjoyable evening. People kept arriving and we heard comments about how it was busier than on the lovely sunny weekend that had just passed. Everyone seemed to have had the same brilliant idea to avoid the Christmas weekend crowds, thus making a large weekday crowd, with someone sleeping on every patch of floor in the loft, and on all the picnic tables and benches downstairs as well. I slept more or less on top of my -20 bag, as it was about 20 degrees in the loft all night. Latecomers and snorers challenged sleep. The plan was to attempt Columnar again with at ETD of 8:30 am – but at 8:20 we were just getting out of our sleeping bags, all a bit tired. The weather was not with us anyway, as the whole area was quite fogged in – and although the fog lifted on our return to the parking lot, it was quite persistent to the north. Still, there were many beautiful views and the company was excellent. We all intend to return, equipped with earplugs.”

Our group at Elfin shelter

Garibaldi Lake 24/12/09

Rob M. at Garibaldi Lake:
“Today, the big white welcome mat was out for 4×4’s only. The only other vehicle in the lot was a tow truck that finally showed at 7pm. Slogging our way up the patchy Barrier trail through a temperature inversion, our body temperature was up and down like a toilet seat. Travel was gnarley in snowshoes until the Taylor Meadows junction when the snow pack began to lighten up. Sometimes waist deep in wind loaded powder we descended onto Barrier Lake staying in the treeline above the gully from the Barrier Lookout. The west face of the Barrier was an ominous frieze of textbook avalanche conditions. The absence of toques frozen into the lake gave us some assurance that the ice was safe. Each lake traverse gave us a greater retina jolt. The south end of Lesser Garibaldi was filled with large wind blown knolls. We followed its shoreline gaining the summer trail just past Taylor Creek. From here it was a cakewalk into that white icing spectacle we know as Garibaldi Lake. After a brief lollygag we were southbound and in the parking lot. This time we refrained from body surfing down through the switchbacks but I did a time-honoured face plant. Oh… did I mention the car battery was dead… Youch!!”

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Avalanche course 21/12/09

Heather on Mt Seymour for the AST1 safety course:
“Sixteen Wanderung members participated in the Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 course for snowshoers taught by Canada West Mountain School. This was a 20 hour course, with one evening class and two full days on Mt. Seymour. We all learned a huge amount of information and practical skills about avalanches, how to avoid them, and how to make wise and informed choices for winter mountain travel. The main topics of weather, snow conditions, and terrain were explored and backed up by practical observations, evaluations and skill practice. We had lots of time to snowshoe all over Mt. Seymour, estimating slope angles, picking safe lines of travel in the terrain, digging snow pits to evaluate the types of snow, practicing beacon searches and companion rescue, and generally finding out how important this knowledge can be for anyone doing backcountry travel. My group of eight had great laughs sharing yummy snacks, singing songs, feeding the birds and snow-shovel sledding amidst all the serious learning. A great course, highly recommended!”

On the "hump"

Elfin Lakes 05/12/09

Rob M. at Elfin Lakes:
“From the snow-free parking lot we boot walked easily on compacted snow to the Red Heather hut. On snowshoes now, we took the extra wide poled traverses up Paul Ridge and to the winter route crossing some active and icy steep slopes before gaining the open ridge top with the eye-popping views as we approach the hut 6 km away. Three-and-a-half hours from parking lot to the Elfin Lakes, we drop our gear in the near-empty hut, carb up and head out. We sight a long line above the numerous gullies and below avalanche debris leading to the saddle. From the south end of the Columnar Peaks we gain a small shoulder where breaking a crusty trail, fierce winds and waning light force us back into the shelter for some fine wine, food and cards. A plan to be back at the trailhead by 3 pm and a persistent overnight howl didn’t hold us back from being on the trail at 8 am the next day, aiming at the south Columnar Peaks. Shortly before gaining the south ridge we realized the crust is getting thicker and that a fall might end up in a toboggan run into the hikers-hereafter-forevermore. We opt for a single line of tree wells leading close to the south peak. Out of the trees, we’re down on all fours buffeted by gale force winds along a very narrow exposed ridge to the peak for a harrowing but impressive 360. Returning, we take the aggressive gluteus line for the longest ass-wiping ever. We’re out of the hut by 1 pm. After two short breaks and one face-plant we’re back in the parking lot by 3 pm for pitchers and buffalo burgers you know where.”

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Hollyburn Peak 05/12/09

Carollyne on Hollyburn Peak:
“We enjoyed hard-packed, but not icy snow and a perfect blue sky on our snowshoe to Hollyburn Peak. The clear sky made for great views. The trail was popular with snowshoers and a few skiers as well. The snow was so hard-packed that snowshoes were not really needed, except for their grip on the steeper parts. One of us (not me) was smart enough to bring crampons, which were ideal for the conditions – except when sliding downhill. Excellent company made for an even better day. Trail to peak is open to Feb 1.”