Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 10-11, Mount Burwell

We had the crazy idea to attempt Cathedral mountain last week-end in what seemed to be the worst storm of the season. They were planning 50 mm of rain in the night when the whole month of February only gets about 125m. I really love the mountains to put up with this kind of stuff.

Of course this trip was not going to be a 100% in the rules because we were planning to camp on the Burwell ridge ( forbidden by park rules) and we wanted to climb a mountain in the watershed. But passion takes over sanity…

My friend dropped 3 of us at the Lynn valley park parking lot around 9:30 am Saturday and went to park the car at Lynn valley road. As we were waiting for him with all our gear (sleeping pad very obvious), two rangers came up to us and asked what we were planning to do.

We got very embarrassed and told them we wanted to do Burwell in one day and said we had gear, just in case…
They didn’t t really take it “ I wasn t born yesterday, you guys are planning to spend the night up there, it s freekin 10 am”. We admitted our plan to sleep. They were actually pretty cool about it because I m sure they are also outdoor enthusiasts (they were carrying some sweet gear). They asked us if we had a radio or a “Spot” or if someone new where we were going, I said we had cell phones and my girlfriend would call 911 if she did not hear from us before Sunday midnight. They said they would let us go for this time but was an exception. They said the snow was rather stable but to be very careful with the terrain as it can get complicated,

Our friend arrived very relaxed while we were all stressed out by the whole situation. We told him what just had happened and he asked us why we didn t hide our gear in the first place, I guess we just didn’t t think about it…

We headed up the Lynn valley trail, crossing many joggers as the weather was getting darker. By km 3, it started to rain, and it would not stop till the next morning.

We started up the coliseum trail, and made it slowly towards the ridge, we hit snow at about 800m but it was still raining, the weather was really warm. We put on the crampons just before the ridge on the final steep part, however it was not necessary.

It was really tricky on the ridge, the first 100m has a steep slope but not enough snow, so a bit scary. Luckily there is a few trees to hang on too. Afterwards it got really snowy. It was not easy to find the markers and although I had done this trail many times without snow, it was hard to recognize in the fog and a snow covered trail. We actually were able to cut the trail on several occasion because there was enough snow to climb on the slope. Those vertical snow walls are just so much fun with the proper gear.

We made it to the summit of coliseum at 5 pm and we were soaked and tired. It was getting extremely windy and we were all cold. We found a small protection under coliseum and dug out a platform. Because we were so cold we decided to do all the cooking from our sleeping bags. Because I have such a great group of climbers we managed to have a lot of fun during this cold wet night.

At about 10 pm, the storm started, all night long it was raining like crazy, hitting the fly and waking me up. I managed to get some sleep but tent buddy barely slept. I was feeling a bit nervous because I was wondering with all this weight on the snow if the snow protect above us (about 1m50 high) could collapse on us. I took my mighty Swiss army knife and put in my pocket in case I needed to tear myself out of the tent.

But at 5 am, it started to snow and we stopped hearing the rain on the fly. It was so peaceful… But by now are sleeping bags were wet and humid by all the condensation that fell off the fly because of the wind.

We woke at 8 am, I put my completely soaked insulated snow pants in the sleeping bag (very unpleasant) so I could heat it a bit before wearing it out side.

But the clouds had gone and we were on the top of Vancouver. My friend Len took his kite out and we started kiting on a nice sunny Sunday morning. When our last friend woke up we decided to attempt Burwell. I was scared that the snow would be deep but it was actually very nice, the crampons were perfect. We went fairly quickly to the summit from coliseum about 45 min one way.

The weather was much nicer and we saw cathedral and it crazy ridge mocking us, I told myself that it would be my summer attempt.

We went down and although it was not raining anymore, the grounds were very humid, we got our shoes very wet.

At about 900m high I realized that it was 4 pm and St Valentines day. Because I knew the trail very well, I asked my buddies if I could go ahead, they told me they were fine with it, I rushed down to the Lynn Valley trail in less than one hour and made it back to the bus station at about 6 pm, hoped on the bus and was home at 7:30, going through downtown with my ice axe and crampons.

My girlfriend was happy to see me and I brought her to a Thai restaurant, it tasted like crap…

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