Sunday, June 13, 2010

It had been a while that I hadn`t climbed with Russ. We finally found a day where were both available and the weather was looking gorgeous. This would be my last preparation trip before my trekking in Switzerland and my Mt Blanc ascent, I had to do get the best out of this hike.

Russ picked me up early in the morning and we went in the direction of Harrison hot springs to climb the popular hike of Sollicum peak. We made it faster than expected and got to the logging road fairly quickly. We noticed on this Saturday a large amount of ATV ready to hit the FSR around. We parked the car and started our ascent, at first on active logging road through a clear cut. This section is actually accessible for 4wd. But the magic starts right after. We entered the forest and the trail was surprisingly pleasant being and old logging road free of any bush. We had a small cut towards a higher logging road, where I unfortunately got stung by some poison ivy. We continued on the trail/logging road for quite a while gaining distance and elevation a smooth pace. After 2 h of hiking, the trail leaves the easy trail to become a more generic BC trail, small, shaded and buggy. We encountered snow in a creek and starting 1200 m, it was a continuous snowfield. We lost trail and decided to navigate with my GPS. We had to contour some bluffs and crossed a large open area before getting to the ridge. Once on the ridge, the views were splendid, Mt Baker, Old Settler, Clark, Recourse, etc. However I was extremely surprised by the smog coming from Vancouver, I would have never imagined it being so thick. The snow was very wet and in some parts fairly deep. I fell in a few holes but nothing scary. We finally made it to the summit and enjoyed a well deserved lunch with magnificent views. We headed back down and on my way I fell in a hole waist deep, enough to give me cold sweats. Overall a fantastic hike, highly recommended.

The video and pictures says it all!!

Fun on Slollicum from AdrienHD on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Contributor to Cairn Publishing!!

I edited a KMZ file (Google Earth) which indicates all summits and trailheads of the great Scrambles in SW BC. Matt Gunn approved it and decided to put it on his site, first page!!!

In return , he nicely accepted to link this site to his site!! Thanks Matt!!

His site HERE

Friday, June 11, 2010

Squamish Valley to Callaghan Valley Traverse

Finally, I got to do an adventure again. Since Baker I hadn`t done anything too crazy since the weather had been cloudy and rainy, what a bad end of May. I managed to do Fromme in a morning, Hollyburn (same route as the 103 hikes book) on a cloudy day and been up Cerise Creek for some mountaineering training than actual mountaineering.
I believe that the month of June is very unpredictable for the weather forecast. The week-end forecast had changed 10 times from rainy to sunny to rainy back to sunny, how can you make plans! I understand the location and why it is so hard to predict, especially with global warming changing all the weather rules our meteorologist learned at school. With my usual over optimistic predictions, I just decided that the weather was going to be great all week-end long regardless of what I would hear from the weather network. If I was wrong, I would already be outdoors anyways...
Originally, with my Supa Krew, we wanted to attempt (#3 this year) Mount Garibaldi. Unfortunately Ryan had to be on the island the week-end and Todd wanted to climb Rainier. So I and Len were stuck together. I offered to rent a car and go hang out at Elfin Lakes and perhaps attempt Little Diamond Head as we had never bagged it.
However, when I called Len, I was told that the VOC was planning a traverse. I had heard much about these traverses, and I have always been timid to be part of them as I am an unfortunate snowshoer. But Len is a great guy and easily convinced me that I should be part of the adventure. I was very motivated but a bit scared that I would not be invited since the skiers might think I would hold them back. So I posted a message on the VOC board about my situation, like “Sorry guys I m a snowshoer, but I m not too slow...”. Len, who has converted to skis, nicely commented on the board that I had never been a burden on the ski trips we had done together. Immediately the responses were very positive and I and Len got invited in a car group, we were going to be car group B, the group starting from the Squamish Valley.
It is always great to do trip with VOCers as I meet them time to time in huts, in Squamish, on the mountain, they are just every cool spot you can imagine. Our group driver (and surely leader) was Piotr who had organized the trip for everyone, his girlfriend Anne (also from France!), Ran (who I had met on several trips already) and my loyal friend Len. Bonn-Tien was meanwhile climbing solo 4000 s in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains.
They picked me up at 6:20, the kind of schedule I like, at my place. We headed to the Timmies in Squamish where all three car groups would meet up to talk about final logistics and camping spots. We were altogether at around 7:45 and with coffee, observed the Callaghan area map (BTW!! Clark Geomatics Callaghan Map is out, got just after this trip, I love it, $15 at MEC!!). After a brief discussion, group A headed towards the Callaghan lake and we headed, with group/car C towards the Squamish valley with for objective: High as possible on S-500. Pietr has a great 4x4 so the trip was really good even up S-500, there was quite a wash out that he managed perfectly. At about 900m the road seemed really decommissioned and the alder was getting thicker and thicker. Group C had a tough 4x4 and did not seem disturbed by the thickness (CT and VOC member: Jbest). We were cutting down the alder and tried to minimize the damage on the vehicle. However at about 975 m we decided to park the vehicle. We put on all our gear, the skiers had to add the skis on their backs and myself just the snowshoes and we headed in the bushes. Jbest had been here a few weeks earlier and the conditions had completly changed, they had parked further down but did not have to bushwack once. Our situation involved at least 500 m of alder fighting . Fortunately we quickly got to snow level which stuck the plants to the ground, plus the weather was actually getting really nice (it had started quite foggy in the morning). We had started our hike around 11 and by noon we were almost at the end of logging road. We put on the skis and snowshoes and headed off into the forest, parallel to the creek at the bottom of Ring Mountain. After reading several trip reports this month on Ring Mountain, we were extremely motivated to bag this mountain as the views on the summit seemed extremely promising. We crossed the creek as high as possible, beyond Ring Mountain actually, to head back west towards the tuya. When we arrived at the bottom of Ring Mountain, I realized the mission to be accomplished, 500 m slope with the slushiest snow I have ever been. Anne took the lead and found us an easy way to climb. The sun was now hitting hard and we felt like in an oven. We zig zagged our way up, me having a really hard time with my Denalis snowshoes. Sometimes I would just go straight up as I would ruin their ski tracks. At about 1950m, we emptied our bags and kept some water and AVI gear to climb the final 150m. Those 150 m were really, really long.
I was already feeling the water run out. I would walk 25 steps and would have to stop for a breather. Everyone around was suffering (well maybe just most of us). It was hot, the snow was horrible and it was steep. Finally after an hour struggle, where I felt like fainting several times, we made it to the summit plateau. Of course like many VOCers, we all looked for the true and fake summit bumped. From the top we could see 2 VOCers who were on the Callaghan-Ring Col, we waived at them and I envied them since they were much closer to camp than I was. The way down was a lot of fun though, even if I had a small scare by falling in a hole (just an odd rock formation) We picked up our stuff where we had left them and looked at what were our options. Our goal now was the Callaghan glacier, where we would sleep. It was already 5 pm and seemed miles away. But Pietr was a great leader and kept the spirits high by telling us we still had plenty of light and we would get there in no time.
We decided to stay as high as possible by traversing Ring Mountain. However, when the first skier went down he launched a significant wet slab. This reminded us to be extremely careful and to keep our distances.
At the level of the col, there were the remains of a gigantic avalanche with massive ice blocks, like the whole mountain had fallen off.
We took a rest at the col and start layering back up. We were at about 1700m and camp was at 2250, we weren’t there yet. The climb to the glacier was long but enjoyable, as we talked and joked on this long way up. When we arrived at the glacier, because I was on snowshoes, I asked Len to rope up, I had already fallen in a hole today, I didn’t want to fall in a crevasse. Once on the glacier, it was just another 15 min to camp. When we arrived (I was the last one with Len, because we had lost a bit of time because of my roping up). I noticed group A was not there. We were a bit disappointed because it is always great to be all together. I and Len quickly headed for a small peak next to camp to watch the sunset. The sky had cleared up, and not one cloud in sight. We could see from Mamquam, to Currie, Overseer, Ashlu and it s huge glacier fields, we were in paradise. The sunset was amazing and I had a thought for Bonn-Tien maybe watching the sun rise on the Atlas Mountains. As we were on the small peak, we noticed some skiers coming from the East, it was group A! Veenstras , Roland Burton, Doris and Gili! They had made it, we would have plenty to talk about. We came back to camp, set up tents and snowalls. The evening was cold for me because I was hungry and exhausted. I talked to the group A to find out what I was to expect from tomorrow. Basically a long walk on the glacier but also a 7 km walk on the Callaghan road. I went to bed with a full stomach which allowed me to have a rather warm night, which gave the good rest I needed. In the morning, we all woke up at 7, put on minimum gear and headed up to climb Mt Callaghan. I was very surprise to realize it was really a quick walk away. It took us less than 30 min from camp to summit. I took the chimney which was a lot of fun, some preferred to go on the side. We were 10 VOCers on the top, I like to be alone on summits usually, but these people are such a great company that it only makes the summit even better. Climbed a rocky tower next to camp and then We quickly headed back to camp and exchanged car keys. Packed up and on our way to finish the traverse. The way down was a bit tricky, the weather was not as good as the first day and we even had a small white out. We went down the glacier. But at one point we faced a very steep slope, we wanted to take the ridge that was going east but because of the whiteout we decided to follow the tracks of group A.
So we went down on the slope, for skiers, it was a difficult task, for me it was crap.... I took off my snowshoes and boot down in a slushy snow. As I was going down I realized I was getting myself under some big seracs, in this weather, it was a stupid idea. I tried to stay on my left as much as possible but when I ended at the bottom of the slope, there was a half buried bergshrund; I was unroped, heavily packed and already tired. My friends were waiting for me way in the front, in a safe spot. Adrien you are on your own here. I quickly traversed to end up under the seracs but where the bergshrund was fully covered. I took my ice axe with both hands, and jumped over where I supposed the bergshrund was.
Fortunately I landed far and din t fall in any crevasse. But I still had the seracs above me. So I wanted to wait no time as the only exit to those situations is move you butt fast!! And the fastest way was to slide on my brand new Gamma AR pants... Well I slid, and within 5 min, I felt my bum very wet. I was surprised because those pants are very water repellent. Well not when you completely rip them... I was pissed, but I was not going to let myself bothered, I know the repair service and I knew they would do a great job ( I don t live in Burnaby for no reason...) .
We got off the glacier and I was managing to keep up with the skiers by taking less breaks. However I really struggled on steep slopes as my Denalis would have no grip at all and I would fall directly in the snow... just a bit of a pain. When we arrived just high above Callaghan lake, we went down a cool gully, that was a highway to the lake. Not to steep, perfect for me. The group A had gone on the north side of the lake and said it was really shitty so we were going to contour it by the south, we didn’t t know what was there but “maybe shitty “ is better than “shitty”. When we arrived at the lake, we realized that there was no way we could cross it. We headed toward the south and actually, besides the beginning, stayed on the lake banks, a mix of snow ice and sand made them rather safe and convenient. We did a great timing as we managed to go from one end to the lake to the other in less than an hour.
At the tip of the lake, we realized we would have to cross the Callaghan creek, knee deep. At this point we didn’t care anymore and just crossed, my feet were already soaked. We found out the next day there was a bridge a 100 m lower...
The 7 km on the snowed up road seemed to last forever. But when we saw our car, this made us realize we had just finished an amazing trip. We were exhausted but happy, the real VOC kind of trip. We drove back to the Shady Tree, and I ate my burger with a giant whole in my pants. We exchanged the gear from one car to another...some girls took some pictures of us???
The traverse was amazing.....but I am looking now into skis..The VOCers made their point...

Cerise Creek Fun and Pain

I had already been twice during May in this valley, located about 3 hours from Vancouver! I guess I have just fallen in love with this place, because of the beauty but also the protection it gets from the west as Matier and Joffre tend to block the clouds. This time, I wanted to climb Joffre via the Aussie Couloir. There had been several recent trip reports about this climb therefore I assumed that it was a good time to climb it. The group was really great, Len, Ben, Sarah (a fantastic Kayaking guide) and myself. The plan was for us to leave early Saturday morning for the Cerise Creek trailhead, sleep at the col and ascend Joffre early on the Sunday morning. Well I managed to pick up everyone on time. However the weather did not look promising and would probably slow us down. We made it in a fairly quick time to the trailhead, with of course a short stop at the Squamish Timmies. Immediately I noticed that the snow level had significantly dropped. We started off taking the usual winter-summer trail, but in the forest we decided to stay west of the Cerise Creek. When we hit the logging road, we put on the snowshoes and skis and started a short slog towards the summer trail, on the west side of the creek. However, I decided to have a look at the creek junction with the logging road, since maybe we could still take the winter trail. Unfortunately the creek was way too high for us to cross it and we didn’t feel like getting wet the first 2 hours of our week-end. Len and Ben had a hard time crossing some unsnowed waterbars as the skis were not helping at all. Once we got back into the forest, we realized that the summer trail was really not ready and we would have some difficult creek crossing. We had to cross a sketchy log bridge, that Len fantastically crossed with his skis on. After about an hour in the forest, Ben broke his tele ski binding, which we believed would significantly slow us down. However we managed to fix the problem with a strap, a nice MacGyver fix. We crossed the creek on a rather good snowbridge only to find out we had to cross another one a few meters later. By then we were back on the winter trail. We got through the forest and realized that it was not possible anymore to follow the winter route as the creek had opened up under the snow. At this point of the day, we had already hiked 4 hours although we had hoped to take only 2 hours to the hut. We went back into the forest, went up a steep slope to come back again to the creek. At one point, I felt that the east side of the creek would be the better way to the moraine. I crossed on a sketchy snowbridge, and just before shore, I went right through the bridge. Luckly, I had the reflex to fall forward, wich spread my weight on the bridge and prevented a total collapse. I followed the creek bank while the rest of the group was on the other side. At sufficient altitude I crossed back to the west side. We were finally at the moraine, after almost 6 hours of hiking. We realized that the Joffre attempt was too late to start and that we were too tired to go much further. We decided to camp right at the moraine. We setup camp quickly, and although it started to rain. We took the rope and went to train our mountaineering skills on the moraines`steep slope. Trained our crevasse rescue skills, our belaying skills, rappel, anchors, snow picket placement, etc. We hadn t climbed a summit or explored new places but we had some very useful time on the mountain. I realized that the snow pickets could not take much weight if they were not very deep into the snow.
We had a lot of fun running down the 45 degrees slope, with little risk. Sarah got to train her avalanche rescue skills.
We finally got very humid and decided to head back to our tents. After a good dinner we went to bed. I had one of my coldest nights this season. The air was not that cold but it was extremely humid. I kept waking up, bothered my the humidity chilling my bones.
The morning was actually pretty nice, a lot more sun and good views from around. We packed camp and made it out. Ben decided to carry his skis on his back. The way back was a little bit better than our way in although that we tried to cross another snowbridge. Len was successful with his skis, but when Ben tried, he went right through. He also managed to not fall in the creek, but when he pulled out his legs from the hole, we could see a very deep creek running very fast, a bit scary.

The way back took us only 4 hours and we tried to stay as much as possible on the winter trail. It was though a full summer trail through the clear cuts, no snow left at all.

It was really nice to hang out with my friends this week-end. We didn t do anything crazy but it was well worth it to enjoy Cerise Creek in somewhat “winter conditions” But I would really not recommend going there for the moment, it would suck...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hollyburn Mountain- 103 Hikes Style

I had already climbed this mountain in 2008 with Bonn-Tien, but the views had been nil as it was a really foggy summer day. I decided to re-attempt it but going through the 103 hikes way. I left my place quite late at 8:20 and was downtown by 9 am, almost missing my connection for the British Properties. Usually you need a car to this hike, but I found a short trail from the bus stop to the Cypress look out. Within 15 min I was at the trailhead stated in the book. The trail I took seemed to have been the wrong one but it didn’t matter much to me because it was heading towards the summit. Once I arrived on a private road, I got a bit lost and had to go back on my steps. I finally found a trail between some cabins and soon realized there was a mini town installed at the bottom of the Cypress slopes. Dozens of cabins, most of them fairly old with outhouses, set up along this trail. Finally I made at the level of the Hollyburn lodge and from there took the cross-country ski slopes all the way till the top. At this point there was tons of snow left on the slopes. I was wearing shorts but no gaiters so my feet were getting wet. I made it to the summit and had some good views on the south. I was proud of my timing as I had taken 30 min less than expected. However the way back down was very painful since snow was getting into my boots on every step. Instead of retracing my steps, I took the Baden Powell trail, but since I wasn t too sure how to cross the British Properties, I decided to stop my adventure at the first bus stop. I managed to get home by 4:30 pm, a nice short hike that was my 35th day in the outdoors this year.

Mount Fromme in a morning.

We woke up early on Friday morning as I had to be at the office at 2pm. We managed to grab a bus at 7 am and we were at the trailhead by 8 am. It was a smooth climb up as we made it all the way to the trailhead on our bikes. This time I really wanted to make it to the top as I had failed this summit already 3 times!! The climb was again difficult because there is little marks and it is actually very steep. We had to bushwhack a few times, although with the snow it was not much of challenge. But because of the steepnees, we had a few uneasy steps. We finally made it to the summit with some nice views on lynn valley and Vancouver. We knew the best was to come, 1100 m descent back to the bus which is almost at sea level. Unfortunately, it started to shower on our way back which generated us some nasty brain freezes… We made it back to the bus station by 11:30, we enjoyed a summit in half a day.