Irina on Mt Sproatt:
“Our hopes for the afternoon clearing were not in vain, as drizzle over Vancouver turned into flurries along the Rainbow Lake trail, and then gave way to patches of blue sky as we were hiking up higher.
The Rainbow Lake trail was easy to follow with multiple ski tracks. The question was: where to turn off west? Last time I was here, we turned off at the 4.5 km mark before the wooden bridge (https://www.livetrails.com/report/847/0/Mount_Sproatt). This time, we carried on further and turned off at the outhouse. Arriving at the cliff with a massive yellow icicle, we headed up the steep slope. Snowshoes provided us with good traction, but a group of skiers struggled and, after a few unsuccessful attempts at skinning up, took off their skis and were trying to bootpack up. Surprisingly, there were no tracks whatsoever past that point, and we broke trail towards the alpine, in anticipation of open skies.
Soon enough, we were out of the trees! With no apparent peak on the horizon, we continued our way along small ridges in the direction of the GPS-indicated summit. While no signs of avalanche activity were visible, the whoompfing under our feet called for frequent group discussions and conservative ascent lines. Buried below the top 20 cm of loose dry storm snow, was a 5 cm rain crust from the weekend before that was giving way. Arriving at one of the summits 4h 15min after the start, we decided to not go around all four of the seemingly identical bumps in search of the slightly higher one, but instead enjoyed the views of the Armchair Glacier, Wedge Mountain, Whistler and Blackcomb on the other side of the highway. A beautiful winter day!
We were wondering all the while where the skiers disappeared to, and got our answer after descending back into the trees. The untouched snow just above the yellow icicle cliff turned into a maze of ski tracks. The descent was a breeze: took us under 2.5 hrs from the summit to the vehicles, and that’s on snowshoes: would have been much faster on skis! Back before dark and off to the Fish’n’Chips place in Squamish. Excellent team trail-breaking and route-finding discussions made it a safe and enjoyable trip. See mine and Dan’s reports and pictures on Livetrails: https://livetrails.com/index.php?viewTrail=1&trailid=1082.”
Eric at Elfin Lakes:
“Saturday morning began as a cloudy, overcast day. It didn’t get better. Three of us met the fourth in Squamish and proceeded up to the Elfin Lakes parking lot. The road was exceptionally treacherous. The fourth member attempted to drive his Corolla on snow tires up. Unfortunately he became stuck halfway up. While getting unstuck, a large line of traffic got stuck behind us, blocking our retreat. After a car and a truck ended up in the ditch, the park rangers showed up. After the better part of 3 hours pushing cars, chaining tires, and trying to not get swept off the road, the three of us left the fourth to make his own way down. We carried on in a chained up 4×4 truck having no difficulty to reach the upper parking lot. The weather got worse. Lots of snow was hampering visibility. We reached Elfin Lakes hut just before dark. (total of approx. 4 hrs travel from upper parking lot). The hut is very nice and warm. It has propane heat, stoves and lanterns. It also has solar powered LED lights that sort of work. The next morning, we toured over to the Gargoyles and got a couple runs in. Amazing light powder snow, great terrain, but some avalanche risk. We were very thankful to the party that broke an excellent track up to the col through as safe terrain as possible. After lunch we headed back to the truck. The clouds opened up and exposed the beautiful surroundings. After 3 hours we reached the parking lot (on skis, about 4 hrs on snowshoes). Driving down was slow but uneventful. We had heard, and then saw, that a Jeep without chains slid and rolled over the edge of the road. It looked to have plunged 60 feet before coming to rest in some trees upside down. Its roof was caved in and it didn’t have any glass left in the windshield. Apparently a fire truck and an ambulance were necessary. The moral of the story: don’t attempt to drive up without chains. Even if you think you will try, it is likely that you will fail. Turning around is very difficult, and dangerous. Also, if you have chains, try to get up early, to lessen the chance of getting stuck behind a large group of vehicles pretending to be toboggans.
All in all, a great trip for the three of us that made it Elfin Lakes shelter.”
Steve on the Canada West Mountain School AST-1 course:
“Ten of us joined another 22 people in a course mixing skiers and snowshoers for our AST-1 (basic avalanche) certification. At first I thought the class size was large but what it did was expose us to 4 instructors from a variety of backgrounds.
The classroom component on day one was just the right amount to hold our attention and give us the basics and then it was out to the snow on the first of 2 and amazing Seymour days!
Saturday and Sunday we covered: snow testing, companion beacon rescue, avalanche terrain recognition and more.
A big thanks to John, Linda, and Steve from Canada West Mountain School for the break on price, and all of the wisdom they passed on to us! I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in winter backcountry travel. It wasn’t just educational, it was a blast!”
Chris M. at Pump Peak on Mt Seymour:
“Three snowshoers and 2 skiers started up Seymour at 2 pm. The parking lot was crammed but the trail wasn’t too crowded. We went up the southwest face of Pump Peak. Laurie, Irina and Dan walked and slid back down, while Glen and I enjoyed a few turns. The evening light for all of us was magnificent.”
Chris M. winter camping at Garibaldi Lake:
“We broke trail the entire way. Along the road, up the trail, in the meadows and up the ridge. Around 25 km round trip. Scott and Ian were in snowshoes. I skied. I was so tired I buried my heavy tent at the 4-km marker and decided to sleep in the shelter. We missed sunset. Exhausted, we played cards, went to sleep early and still we missed sunrise. We woke up to frozen ski boots and gaiters. After skinning up the ridge, just as the views opened up, along they came including Robert!? – a Wanderung member who decided our tracks looked better than breaking trail over to Panorama. Smart choice. After stopping with a beautiful view of Black Tusk another Wanderunger, Adrien showed up!! The morning had been a bright blue but the clouds now started to roll in. Skiing down in 2 feet of powder was dreamy.”
Rob M. at Elfin Lakes:
“We made it to the unploughed upper parking lot. One car had slid off the road into the forest – a bit of bumper and windshield visible – driver frantic on the cell phone. We seemed to be the first, breaking a snowshoe trail out to the hut. Progress was slow and draining. From the high stilted outhouse at Red Heather I could see that the poled winter route hadn’t been set. The narrow trail followed the summer route without any avi risk. We arrived quite late at the Elfin Lakes Hut feeling a little trashed. Sadly there were no tracks leading up Columnar Peak/Gargoyles saddle. Time worked against our intent of tenting out on the saddle, Columnar Peaks or ideally up on Little Diamond Head. The trump card was yet to be played.
With less than two hours of daylight a couple of skiers headed out towards the saddle but gave up breaking trail 1 km beyond the shelter. At the shelter I saw three grommets had broken loose from the metal frame of my MSR snowshoes. That and the oversized winter pack were probably the cause of some shooting pains in my hip. Three steps in 1.5 metre snow from the hut there was a collective feeling that we didn’t consume enough power gels to get us to the saddle.
A half hour later Glen tells us that his bivy setup probably wouldn’t work. The temperature was -15 and dropping – colder with the wind chill and worse at higher exposed elevations. We quickly found a spot in the meadows at the base of Columnar Peaks and began digging out a campsite and talked about what to do if the temperature went south of -20. Two of us ended up sharing a 4 season Hilleberg tent and with a bit of tweaking, everyone survived the night – woken once by the sound of snow drilling our tents; and once by the unmistakable sound of a woomph and a slide coming down the Gargoyles.
We took a mellow, get lost and smell the flowers pace back to the parking lot passing more than 50 skiers/snowboarders on Paul Ridge near Round Mountain. The trail was now a super highway. A pint and burger in town and we were home.”
Adib on a Wilderness First Aid course:
“Eight Wanderung members participated in the awesome Red Cross Wilderness Remote First Aid course. The course was 20 hours, on Friday night we were indoors and learned the basics of CPR, and got our training manuals. Saturday and Sunday we spent in Mundy Park doing hands on stuff in prefect conditions for a wilderness first aid course, cold, raining, and amazing instructors. Peter Ramsey, our instructor, was one of the people who collaborated on writing the red cross manual on remote wilderness first aid how cool is that, yes you can see his name in the Red Cross book!
We learned and practiced so many things other than basic CPR including how to deal with: hypothermia, broken bones, different types of wounds, possible head and spinal cord injuries and many more exciting things. I finally learned how to properly use a first aid kit.
The best part of course was the hands on scenarios our instructors set up, using theatrical make up that looked so real it made your heart beat fast. We dealt with scenarios involving bleeding people, all sorts of body parts, unconscious people hanging from trees, amputated thumbs, sucking chest wounds, pulling someone out of the lake and treating for hypothermia, dealing with shock, heart attacks, strokes, heat exhaustion. Most of the scenarios involved multiple causalities, and we had a very detailed night time scenario took about a couple of hours to get through.
We all walked away from the course with a much deeper appreciation for group dynamics and all the problems that can crop up when there is an emergency and many people involved. We are all much more confident in our ability to provide first aid. We also all felt that we would like everyone that we hike with to have this type of training.”
Marisa on Panorama Ridge:
“After the Wanderung party, I had to go to the infamous Panorama Ridge to see what the hype was. Unfortunately, Robert got sick and plans changed. Scott reorganized the trip and we opted for a “late” morning meeting time of 6 am. At 7:30 am, Scott, Vince, Paul and I were at Rubble Creek parking lot making our way to Panorama Ridge. The snow began at 2.5 km but we didn’t strap on snowshoes until Taylor Meadows. We followed existing snowshoe tracks but as our blue skies had changed to snow and low visibility, we meandered to the Black Tusk viewpoint. The snow and wind on the way back down made goggles a valuable essential. We took the long way back via the lake. By the time we got back to the parking lot, it was raining. It was a great day…. We had many moments of silence. Maybe another day we’ll make it to Panorama Ridge with Robert himself!!”
Tim on Yak Peak:
“Wanderungers Tim and Meghan hiked Yak Peak on Sunday Oct 17th. Crystal clear day. Started hiking at 9:30am. Reached the summit at 11:30am (without rushing). I would rate this a very easy scramble. No snow on the trail (which is south facing) but a light dusting was found at the summit. All north facing slopes had a light dusting. We forgot our cameras, so no pictures. A lady’s watch (in good working order) was found near the summit. Contact Tim Gage (see my callout for contact info) or email@example.com if you know the owner.”
Ben at Semaphore Lakes:
“The time of year was near perfect for a trip to this area. While the lower portion of the trail was very muddy, the ground in the bowl containing the lakes was nicely frozen. There was a light blanket of snow varying from sparse patches in the sunny spots to several inches in the shade of the ridges. It was just enough to add beauty to the alpine scenes without making travel difficult. After establishing camp we made our way up Locomotive Mountain. We followed the gentle southern ridge which cannot be seen from the lakes. The route was mostly snow-covered talus and easy to follow. On the summit, the air was cold and clear, and the views were exceptional. Although the sun set well before we made it back to camp, the half moon was bright on the snow and we had no problems. After a very chilly night we were happy to see the sun crest over the ridge at around 10:00. On this day we went for a nice walk along the ridge to the east, and then meandered our way around the lakes and back to the trail. Thanks to Bill and Mazy for joining me and contributing to this great trip.”