Bob H. on Locomotive Mountain:
“Back to the Pemberton area again today for another hike in the mountains. Semaphore Lakes is known for its great camping, as it’s a relatively short hike and there are many many spots to pitch a tent. But today, we did a day trip, leaving North Vancouver at 7:30 and making it to the trailhead at 10:45. The worst part of the drive is the last 17 km on the Lillooet FSR and the Hurley River FSR, which are gravel and full of bumps, potholes and rocks. Anyways, we made it to the trailhead in my 2wd Mazda 3. It was a bit nippy today, but the jacket was stripped off about 20 mins into the hike. The trail was very muddy, probably due to last week’s rain. It took us about one hour to make it to the start of the campsite area, 3 km from the start. We headed towards Locomotive Mountain, where 2 members of our group went on to the summit and 2 members explored the valley.
More info, stats and photos here: http://www.buntzenlake.ca/semaphore-lakes/“
Chris M. at Semaphore Lakes:
“Six of us in 2 cars went up the newly opened Hurley FSR to Semaphore Lakes for the weekend. The trail in took a little over an hour and had patchy snow sections. We found a nice rocky plateau to set up camp on and then we all headed up towards Locomotive Mountain. Except for the final ridge the entire hike up was still on snow. Ino, Colleen, (another) Chris & myself went the easiest route possible while Cara and Mark tried out a more direct line. There were plenty of fun slides on the way back down. That evening, we enjoyed a variety of beverages while waiting for the stars to appear. The next day, 3 of our group made it to the summit of Face Mountain. Two of us went part way and then returned to camp and relaxed with our 6th member. The hike out was easy.”
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.
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.”
Tim on Locomotive and Face Mountains:
“Tim and Alex scrambled Locomotive and Face Mountains. The Hurley River Road is rough but very doable in a LC 2WD. The hike to Semaphore Lakes is an easy 60 minutes. Locomotive is a tiring but easy 5 hr scramble. The route described in Matt Gunn’s book is fine. But there is a slight variation (turn left at the upper lake to avoid the snow slope) that is less work and more fun. We ran into the celebrated Mick Range at the trailhead and he suggested this variation. The view from the top is very good. Current haze from wild fires reduces visibility. Face Mountain is a more difficult 7 hour scramble. But the payoff is superior. It is an exciting climb with some challenging terrain. Matt Gunn’s book provides a very good description that, if followed carefully, keeps you out of serious danger. Helmets are essential. The summit is a steep slab with a very scary cliff on the other side. The view from the top is almost unbeatable. In particular the Train Glacier is an amazing expanse of ice with a rather nifty waterfall at the snout. Both peaks are surprisingly snow free at the moment.”