This is it, the big Squamish backdrop and every time I looked at it I wanted to climb it…That became a reality yesterday when we ski toured in over 28 km and 2000m of elevation gain in 25 C heat to bag Mt Garibaldi.
View of Mt Garibaldi Massif showing Atwell peak, Dalton Dome and Mt Garibaldi Proper. Looking North from Hwy 99 near the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.
This is an area of unparalleled beauty that few care to explore and it is the backdrop of the Sea to Sky! Amazing ice fields, Alpine meadows, Seracs, Snow, Rock are the norm up here.
My good friend Ryan and I planned this trip a few weeks ago and postponed it due to poor weather. This week was the window so I booked off Thursday (Contrary to popular belief, I do have a real day job). An alpine start was not necessary as we are only about a 10 min drive up the highway and a 30 min 4×4 track up to the snow line at 1100 m. The weather could not have been better, well, it could have been colder, but more on that later.
There are 2 main hazards at this time of year on this climb. Crevasses and Avalanches. Avalanches are prevalent in the warm spring at higher elevations as the heat of the day melts the surface layers of the snow and water percolates down through the snow, affecting stability.
Garibaldi and Dalton Dome N, NW Aspect, Rock and Ice!
Thanks to a moderate winter snowfall, the entire glacier except for some very larger crevasses were completely filled in and the route up to the summit push was uneventful. This where things got interesting.
Bootpack over the Fin on Brohm Ridge (Pic courtesy of Ryan Smith)
It was over 20 deg C on the glacier and with massive wind around 2400 m it was deceiving how warm it really was. We made the pretty standard approach up the summit block and things were going smoothly as we approached the now filled in Bergshrund (large crack where the glacier flows from. Forms the “start” of a glacier where it begins to flow down the mountain and detaches from the steeped slope above. Around 2500 m we decided to boot-pack the rest of the way where we were rewarded with these views:
Looking Down on Atwell and Squamish/ Howe Sound. Very Impressive!
Summit Selfie of Course
Thumbs up for Summits! (Pic courtesy of Ryan Smith)
It is well know that getting to the summit is only half of the trip and that getting down safely is more important. This was illustrated in full colour during this trip when I drop into my top ski cut at 2675 m. immediately after, the top began to slough into a small loose wet any, not too big of a deal and I was able to gain my balance and ski to the side. This snow slid down about 50-100 m and into a slight choke and pitched down onto the slope below. What happened next was an wake-up call when the whole top slope slid down about 400 m into a size 2 or so avy. Lukily for us, we were at the top and had a birds eye view. It tool out out entire up-track which was a bit unnerving. We skied back down the bed surface and onto a gentler slope into some really nice turns for this time of year.
View after the descent. Our Avy is the darker one on the far left. You can see our turns down on the left of that.
Turns back down the glacier with Garibaldi Lake in the distance.
Views of the Table, Garibaldi Lake and the Black Tusk in the background.
The total trip totals were: 28 km round trip, 1900 m of climbing and about 9 hrs total time. Killer times indeed.