Saturday, May 21, 2011

Back in the Upper Lillooet!

With the May long week-end approaching and the possibility of the Hurley being plowed Andy and I were hoping to get into some of the goods up there. Late in the week it became obvious the deep May snow-pack was winning the battle and we'd have to wait some more. With the forecast crapping out we opted for a day trip in the Upper Lillooet with Niall joining us as well. We had our doubts about how far we could make it in there as well but found a recently plowed road that got us up to 850m on the south side of the River. Slideshow

This was the first time we'd been up to see the devastation from the Capricorn Creek landslide that released off Cathedral Mountain back on Aug 6 2010. Impressive doesn't quite describe it!

So we set off from the truck skinning and not boot-packing.

Clear-cuts and soft snow made for easy travel.

Soon after we entered the old growth forest that would lead us up a ridge towards Blockhead and Spindrift mountain. Typical Pemby moss and steep slopes. 

When we arrived at a spot where we could get a view of the glacier that led up the valley it became apparent the heat would be an issue. The south faces were going off with massive debris all over the route up. There was no way we wanted to be down there.

We decided to re-gain the ridge and climb Spindrift Mountain. A new zone was appealing! Incredible views of the Meager Range and beyond came into sight.

The Capricorn Glacier. 

Cathedral Mountain and the starting zone of the landslide. 

Meager and Plinth. 

Spindrift turned out to be pretty impressive. Lot's of options for next winter! 

Wolverine's like the area as well. We must have just missed him! 

Spilt-board envy. 

We got a good view of our route up Athelstan we did last June. 

Hard to beat that view. 

Green Jube Jubes taste better. 

Andy prepares for the decent with a secret race wax. 

Blockhead Mountain. 

Athelstan's east Ridge and beyond. 

The Lillooet ice-field. 

The Overseer. 

Andy drops in at 6:30pm on perfect corn snow. It's hard to imagine a more dramatic and contrasting back-drop! Mud and Snow. 

Niall get's some spring turns!  

Oh ya! Pine needles. 

Milking the decent! 

Another sweet day out. Long live long winters! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Birkenhead north face Birthday shred!

With something a little different in mind Danielle and I decided on Birkenhead Mountain's North Face near Pemberton. The peak stands tall above everything else in the area and all sides are impressive and dramatic. The only solid day in the forecast happened to be on my birthday, Friday May 13. Perfect! I'd climbed the mountain before by the standard route but our route up this time would be new and unknown to us. Slideshow

The temps had been super cool all week so it was my hope the snow-line was still low enough to help out the approach. We parked at 800m and set off on foot.

After only half a kilometre we were skinning full time up the old logging road

Another kilometre later and Birkenhead showed itself.

We left the road and started following a creek that would take us to the goods. The forest still had well over a meter of snow which made for super easy traveling.

Just as we emerged from the forest the infamous "Birkenstock" couloir showed itself. Next year!

There was a super steed headwall that paralleled a lateral moraine where the Birkenhead Glacier once reached. More spring boot-packing.

As we crested the top we had direct access to the north facing glacier. It looked inviting!

The glacier had incredible views and showed no signs of spring! Not even the slightest sagging bridge. Which month is this again?

We came to a point where we had to gain the main ridge that led to the summit. It was 2:00pm and the sun was in full force. Wet slabs were pulling off the south facing rocks everywhere. After another hour we gained the ridge at 2100m and found pow! The sketchy ridge walk began.

We got some great views of some of our favourite mountains. WhiteCap mountain's south face looked like winter still.

Mount McGillivary and Standard Ridge.

Danielle found a sundog that pointed the way to the summit.

The peak had a sharp pinnacle that looked strangely manmade?

Birkenhead birthday summit!

Great views of Mt Currie, the Black Tusk and the Pemberton Valley.

Danielle found a Bumble Bee 40m from the summit with it's feet frozen to a piece of snow. Showing signs of life she decided to relocate it in her sunglass case.

After a 9 hour ascent, we dropped in at 6:30pm. May pow and sunshine!

Birkenhead's massive north face didn't disappoint!

We outran the sun all the way back to the road.

A birthday cheers was in order after our 5500ft decent! Cheers.

After his own personal summit attempt of birkenhead our friend enjoyed his first day in North Vancouver.