Category Archives: Scramble

Semaphore Lakes 02/09/12

Evgeny on the Semaphore Lakes peaks circuit:
“When I made a call out, Vlad (one of my companions on this adventure) proposed to make an extra detour to bag also Handcar Mountain if the time would allow. So the plan was settled to climb Face Mountain, then proceed along the ridge to Faceless Mountain, then optionally to make a detour to Handcar Mountain, which is a bit on the side and about 1.4 km straight to the southwest of Faceless, and get back to the ridge between Faceless and Caboose Mountains, then continue to Caboose, Tender, and Locomotive Mountains before descending to the lakes and getting back to the car.

Due to the long driving to the place in the early morning, three of us started hiking at 8:13 am and reached Semaphore Lakes at 9:00 am. From the lakes we headed to Face Mountain crossing a creek in the process. Scrambling Face was fun and in the morning it was warm and sunny to provide some spectacular views on the Train Glacier and the Locomotive Mountain. Route finding is rather straight forward if you are following the book description or a guy who’s been there before. 🙂 At 11:45 we’ve gotten to the top of Face and enjoyed a food break with some amazing views of the surrounding area.

The weather deteriorated a bit and as we started scrambling along the ridge towards Faceless Mountain. It became really cold at some point and we had to put jackets on to prevent freezing. We left Faceless summit rather fast and two of us headed to Handcar Mountain and one stayed to rest on the ridge. Me and Vlad went initially over the ridge between Faceless and Handcar. It was a lot of scrambling but, at the end, we had to descent all the way down the valley. It was a scree fest. Vlad was blazing through it and I was lagging behind. Nevertheless, we summitted Handcar. The weather improved and the sun showed up once again. Vlad went ahead to provide Colin, who stayed on the ridge, company while I was catching up. Amazingly phones worked in the area and Colin managed to call me to ask what’s taking us so long.

After I finally ascended to the ridge and joined the group the remaining 3 peaks were easy with small elevation changes. We summitted Locomotive, the last summit of the group, at 6:20 pm. After a short break there we descended back to the lakes trying to use snow for fast boot-skiing and butt-sliding. We’ve got to the lakes right before the sunset. When it became very dark we already were withing 10 min hike from the car.

At 8:45 pm we were back at the parking spot. The hike itself took us about 12 hours 30 minutes from car to car.

A more detailed report and images can be found on Live Trails.

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Needle Peak 06/07/12

Chris M. on Needle Peak:
“A very enjoyable night on a mountain. Susanna, Glen, Jenn joined me to sleep at 1,947 m, along the summit ridge of Needle. Though a bit hazy, the views were good and the weather warm. Snow starts after about 20 minutes along the trail. There are some rocky outcroppings along the first ridge but mostly snow covered. The summit ridge and both scrambles are completely bare. With overnight bags on, there was one awkward spot on the first scramble, but we worked together as a group and sailed through. Animals stole my liner socks during the night – we couldn’t decide whether the thieves were birds or marmots.”

Mt Gardiner 15/10/11

Evgeny on Mt Gardiner:
“When I made a callout I wanted it to be a long but regular scramble, however it appeared to be another megahike with mountaineering added to the mix. In total, it took 14 hours 30 minutes for the whole trip but it included more stops than we expected.

Knowing that we have to go beyond Pemberton and the days are short, I decided to start very early. So we left the parking lot at 4:30 am. Two of us were at the trailhead right after the sunrise and started hiking at 7:53 am.

There is a nice waterfall not far from the beginning of a trail but overall till it gets to the open, the hike through the forest was quite steep and uneventful. There was a tricky Place Creek crossing because the temperature outside was just above zero and most of the stones and deadwood we supposed to hop over were covered with ice. On the way up we crossed it without a problem. Right after the crossing the ground was frozen and covered with frost icing till the second crossing, which wasn’t a problem at all since the creek was very shallow and narrow there.

The forest opens up a bit when you come under the cliffs where we observed two magnificent frozen waterfalls. Though this area hasn’t been covered in snow yet. Just around the cliffs we came to the well known smooth slabs. I was worried a bit that they might be icy this time of the year but fortunately they were very dry, perfect for slab walking. Therefore my goal was to pass this point on the way back before the dark, so there will be no complications.

I was very optimistic about this trip as we reached the huts in 3 hours 30 minutes, that’s a quite good speed, and the weather was unbelievably good: clear skies, cool but not cold and no wind at all. The mountains covered with fresh snow provided awesome 360 degree views. After a short food break near the glaciology huts we started to traverse around the lake to follow the south east approach to the mountain. We aimed for the notch in the ridge. Snow on the slope was fresh and 40-50 cm deep and we could clearly feel the solid ground beneath that has no layers of ice on it. Going up over the snow covered talus and boulders were easier than I thought, the only difficulty was the depth of the snow. Irina took snowshoes with her and it helped her to make her life easier, but eventually we came to the steeper part and she had to pack them back because the fresh snow on the steep slope didn’t hold well for snowshoes. We were doing very well without crampons since the snow was dry and fluffy. As we came closer to the notch we ran into a problem.

The amount of snow was not enough to use it to go over the hidden slabs beneath and we couldn’t see where they end or have convenient cracks or breaks to cross them. So, we were probing the snow with poles and made several failed attempts to climb them until we found the place where the smooth part was small enough to dig out a handholds and push ourselves up on the top of the ledge, which led to the passable slope to the gully. I used a pole in one hand and SLR camera in the bag in another (Seriously! It works quite well as a hand snowshoe!) to help me going up the steep slope.

Then I made a mistake… going up was not slippery and despite the increasing slope angle I didn’t decide to put my crampons on in the gully. Initially it went quite well, though the slope was very steep, may be 60-70 degrees, the footing was very stable. But approximately on the 2/3 mark to the top of the notch the surface under our feet and a rather thin layer of fresh snow became a bit icy and impossible to kick in. Irina and I started to feel that it doesn’t hold us well anymore. I doubt that falling down would have killed us but considering the steep slope and some stones at the end, it would have been a very long tumble with a possibility of some injuries. And here comes a trick of a day: Irina noticed a stone that was barely poking out of the snow one metre to the left of us. We decided to try to use that stone to sit on it and put on our crampons. Yes, it felt pretty much like sitting almost half in the air. 🙂 Fortunately, it was flat enough on the top to sit on it but we still needed to keep good balance, especially when attaching them to our boots. We made it quite well but spent almost 40 minutes to do that. However, now we could ascent that slope further by hanging basically on the front teeth of our crampons kicked in in the very hard packed crust of snow. Next 20 metres of ascent took us 20 minutes more as we made our steps extremely carefully. Then the very top part of the gully was filled with the waist deep soft snow and, since I led our small team, I had to use my knee to dig the space a bit before I could kick-step my foot in. We safely reached the top of the gully at 3:35 pm.

The scramble out of the notch to the peak was enjoyable. Despite a bit of exposure in the notch it has good foot and handholds, the rest was a piece of cake. Right near the summit I had my epic fail situation when I stepped on the large loose rock and fell, while shooting my summitting video. But it was a flat area, so I ended up only with few bruises. At 4:18 pm we summitted. It was a scramble that turned into mountaineering but we made it!

Calm weather gave us an opportunity to enjoy the views and feel the warmth of the sun instead of just making the step on the top and rush back like happen to our previous hike this year. Since we didn’t want to use that steep gully to descend we were looking for other route on the other side of the mountain but it was steep and covered in snow. We decided that it would be too risky to go that way. From the top it seemed like if we would manage to climb to the other side of the notch then we might have an easy descent down. Therefore, after taking pictures and having food we went that way.

Except for the very short climb to the other side of the notch where we had to dig snow for hand holds the rest of the scramble down was quite easy. We could have saved more than an hour if we went this way up but I don’t know if we would consider down-climbing to the notch having snow on the handholds if we had chosen this route up.

The remaining part of the trip down to the lake was mostly smooth with just a few postholing in the process. We made a slight shortcut to save time as it was getting dark very quickly. We were on the top of the slabs part when it was after the sunset and just a few minutes of light left. As we successfully descended the slabs it became completely dark but the goal was accomplished. We turned our head lamps and proceeded to the car. Right after the frozen waterfalls we had a bit of a difficulty finding the way in the dark since it’s not marked enough for a night conditions but my GPS came to rescue in the difficult times. When I crossed Place Creek on the way back I slipped on the stone, had a refreshing dip into the creek, and got few more bruises. I used that stone on the way up but now it had an ice cover, invisible in the dark. The rest of the trip was without other accidents.

We were back at the car at 10:18 pm. We spent 8 hours to ascend, 6 hours to descend, and 30 min on the top basking in the sun.

For the pictures and videos check

Mount Gardiner 15.10.2011 108

Castle Towers 24/09/11

Evgeny doing Castle Towers in a day:
“Three of us joined in an effort to make a one day megahike to Castle Towers mountain. We started at 8:20 am and in 2 hours reached Helm Meadows campsite area. As we decided against the glacier traveling we went up Gentian Ridge along the moraine near Helm Peak. Instead of getting to the top of the ridge initially we started traversing it on the side, which was initially easier but ended up as a bad idea when the slope became too steep, so we ended up scrambling to the top of the ridge anyway. Ridge walking was easy though we noticed a strong wind that was making some difficulties to walk. We had lunch right after we bagged Fuscian Peak which is the highest bump along this ridge, which has about 5 or 6 bumps between the Helm Peak and the top of the Helm Glacier. It was a clear day with few clouds before we started descending to Gentian Pass. After that clouds covered most of the sky but we were lucky that all the rain passed us by.

We reached the top of Polemonium Ridge at 3:15 pm and realized that we need to go a substantial part down again to pass the gap between Polemonium Ridge and Castle Towers mountain itself. The descent was a nice-looking but unpleasant to scramble narrow gully filled with loose rocks that required careful walking to prevent stones to fall on the heads of people who were scrambling below. The slope of Castle Towers from the western side is a huge boulder field, which still had a last year snow fields on it. On the way up we went over the snow but on the way down we avoided them because they were shallow and steep. At 5:05 pm we summitted the west sub-summit spending 8 hours 45 minutes for ascent. We made a short break there for food and rest and went back soon after. The views were awesome but it was hard to take pictures because the wind was really strong. We made up the narrow gully before the sunset, which was at 7 pm.

Darkness fell when we were descending from Polemonium Ridge to Gentian Pass. Due to GPS visualization problems of long tracks we couldn’t trace our steps back so we used our own route finding and GPS map coordinates to get back to the car with head lamps. We got back on Gentian Ridge and scrambled our way under the gorgeous clear skies full of stars. Those skies were clear for a reason. The wind was very strong and at some mildly exposed sections of the ridge we were literally crawling to avoid being blown off the ridge. At 11 pm we stopped for a snack behind one of the bumps that protected us from the wind turned off the head lamps and enjoyed absolutely beautiful stars in the sky. Then we proceeded along the ridge looking for a convenient scramble down. That wasn’t easy with headlamps but we successfully descended to the meadows and at the midnight we were standing on the wide trail leading back to the parking lot. If we were going up for 2 hours, the way back down took us 3 hours 20 minutes. I didn’t feel very tired and had no blisters at all but soles of my feet were so beaten up by just stomping them for already 16 hours that it was unpleasant to step on them. I had no doubt that my companions felt at least the same. Nevertheless, we endured the last part of the hike in the dark forest and at 3:20 am after exactly 19 hours of hiking we were back at the car. Hey, that wasn’t all for me, I was driving back to Vancouver till 6 am… The driving was also epic but that’s another story. 🙂

Soundtrack of a hike:
For detailed report see:

Castle Towers Mountain 24.09.2011 145

Overlord Mtn 10/09/11

Evgeny on Overlord Mountain:
“Three of us started the megahike at 8:30 am from the parking lot near the Blackcomb gondola. At a relaxed pace we reached Russet Lake right before noon and after a short break moved towards Whirlwind Peak. The weather was as epic as our hike with clear blue skies and warm air. 🙂 On the way up we put on crampons and with the help of ice axes ascended via a pocket glacier to the saddle between the Fissile and Whirlwind Peaks. From there we crossed the top of the pocket glacier and ended up on the Whirlwind Peak at 1:50 pm. After a 30 min snack break we started totally gorgeous ridge walking towards Overlord mountain. It is mostly scrambling with small patches of snow closer to the Overlord Mountain. At 3:40 pm we reached our destination and enjoyed late lunch under severe exposure to awesomeness. We took about an hour to will ourselves to leave this beautiful mountain but we found strength and started our way back home. We summitted Whirlwind Peak again but this time we used the eastern ridge to descend from it to the plateau using snow fields for boot skiing down as much as possible. Near the first stream of water coming from the glacier we refilled our water supply using a filter that I brought with me to avoid carrying too much water. We timed perfectly as the sunset found us stepping on a wide Russet Lake trail. After Singing Pass we proceeded through the forest with head lamps. At 11:20 pm we finished the megahike at the parking lot. Due to some minor knee malfunction of one of my companions the descent took almost the same time as the ascent but nevertheless it was unbelievably good day.

This is the soundtrack of our hike:
For the detailed report see”

Overlord Mountain 10.09.2011 147

Mt MacFarlane 03/09/11

Jeremy on Mt MacFarlane:
“Four brave souls ventured out towards Chilliwack Saturday September 3rd to climb Mount MacFarlane. The drive took to the trail head took less than two hours, and was completely paved, except for the last 200 metres. Easy with 2WD. The parking lot was pretty full upon arrival, with both day hikers and overnighters parked there. 1770 metres is a lot to ascend, and the trail gets to the point and starts ascending within the first 150 metres or so of the hike. It took us three hours to get to the first lake, with few stops to rest. About one hour in, there is a sharp right turn in the trail – if you are looking down, it is easy to miss! It’s up and up and up, through lush forest, across one boulder field and crossing one creek. It’s definitely a slog. The trail was mostly dry, with a little bit of muddy sections near the lake.

The first lake is beautiful, with Mount MacFarlane staring at you from the south end of the lake, and a waterfall cascading from the upper lake, down the face of the ridge visible from the lake’s edge. There are a few flat spots for camping at the north end of the lake, which is where we camped, but there were better spots at the south end of the lake, a further 10 minutes down the trail, and then a steep descent to the lake edge.

After passing flasks around the fire for a while, we all slept well, tired from hiking, even though we had only hiked 3 hours. Sunday morning, it was just a one hour hike up to the second lake. The trail is steep in sections, but not difficult technically. It was great to hike without all our camping gear! The upper lake was still 70% frozen. It was another 45 minutes up the snow free ridge to the top of the mountain – this portion involved a tiny bit of scrambling but it was mostly hiking. At the top, the views were incredible. We could even see Mt. Rainier to the south. We hiked back down to the first lake quickly, ate lunch, packed up, swam, and headed back to the car. It’s even more of a slog down – it’s relentless down and down and down. Hiking poles definitely helped! On our way down, we passed some hikers coming up who warned us that 4 out of the 6 cars parked overnight had been broken into. Fortunately, we were one of the two cars that remained intact. The drive back was quick with no traffic. Epsom salts baths were in order to soothe sore legs from the descent.”


Williams Peak 13/08/11

Eric on Williams Peak:
“Four of us decided to have a go at Williams Peak on Saturday. It is about 1:45 drive from Vancouver and looks very impressive. The parking is 32 km from the turn off to the Chilliwack River Road. The trail is incredibly steep and gruelling. (Think a couple grouse grinds.) Luckily it is in the shade. The well travelled trail kind of peters out in a bowl under the massive pyramid peak. The summit can be gained from a gully hiding behind the right flank of the mountain. We saw a mother grouse with two chicks, also out for a Saturday hike. The entire hike can be made without walking on much snow. Great conversation ensued once the peak was conquered. Milkshakes at white spot followed. What an exhausting and throughoutly satisfying day. Thanks guys.”

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Tricouni Peak 07/08/11

Chris M. on Tricouni Peak
“Six of us went up to Tricouni Peak. The final part of the road was rough on our two 4wds. Trail was certainly muddy to start but we were soon on snow from before the first lake. All us of then went fairly straight up the somewhat steep snow slopes. Erica, Ian & his dog waited near the sub-summit while the four of us – Glenn, Brad, Scott and myself – went up on the top. Bluebird day. The much-sliding down might have been the highlight!”

Needle Peak 09/07/11

Chris M. on Needle Peak:
“No one was able to join my Gamuza idea. So it was easy for me to change my mind and go up Needle Peak instead. The westbound side of the Zupkios pullout is closed anyway. Snow starts on the trail within the first 15 minutes. But footing was easy, I wore trail runners for the entire trip. Once you start the first scramble it is only on rock the rest of the way. I camped on the final ridge, only minutes from the summit, beside a pretty little tarn. The scrambling is fairly simple, when staying on route! The weather was good with just enough wind so there was NO bugs.”

Needle Tarn

Yak Peak 17/10/10

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 if you know the owner.”