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|GuideBook||Various Internet sites|
|Mailed to WacList||07/17/2009|
This trip originally started out as me leading a group of people up the Fisher Chimneys on Shuksan. However, after speaking with the ranger on the phone we decided not to do it due to snow and ice in the chimneys. We then switched to Eldorado but bailed on it also because we thought it would be difficult to get a permit over July 4th weekend. So we ended up joining Andy Iles on a trip he was planning up to B.C. to do Wedge Mtn. Wedge Mtn is the tallest mountain in the Garibaldi Range at 9488 ft. |
With various comings and goings the final group was: me, andy, lace, wade, rebecca and patrick. The trailhead begins a few miles past Whistler. We had confusing information on the trail ranging from 2.8 miles to 4.5 miles but my guess is it is closer to the 4.5 mile range with 4000 ft of elevation gain. It's a steep trail with lots of roots and rocks but is generally in good condition. It was a hot day but luckily it is in the shade for the entire way except for the last 500 ft of vertical. Arriving at Wedgemount Lake was a welcome site. It is a beautiful, large lake with an emerald color. A small hut is there for sleeping but it only holds about 4 people and there is an outhouse as this is a very popular day and overnight destination for Vancouverites. There are also many tent platforms, some wood and some fine gravel. We chose ones up above the hut which gave us great views. However, i would recommend heading down to the lake, a few hundred feet down, to avoid the mosquitoes.
After a nice dinner we hung around for awhile taking evening pictures and eventually headed off to bed. Up at around 3:30 - 4:00 and on the trail at 5:00 we headed down to the lake and along the length of the lake to the base of the glacier. The first part was all ice so no need to rope up but we soon hit snow so we decided to don our ropes with two teams of 3. However, wade was feeling awful at this point so decided to head back to camp. He had gotten very little sleep over the last two days and just felt terrible. Now down to 5 we roped up as teams of 3 and 2. Easy glacier climbing up the right side led us to a steeper ice section, maybe 35 -40 degrees, which we all frontpointed up while still roped up. Didn't use any pro as it seemed quite safe. This led to another easy glacier section that brought us up to the ridge and the beginning of the "real" climbing.
We took a break here and after closely checking out the route, Lace decided to wait here for the rest of us. The route from here is up a snow arrete that gradually steepens with dropoffs on both sides. There are places along the arete where you walk right on top of a two foot wide area with 70 degree slopes on both sides that drop off a few hundred feet. Very nice exposure! Andy thought this was somewhat similar to Eldorado but much more extensive. You can see it in Andy's pictures. I led up this area placing a picket along the way for safety. The arete then ends in a 50 degree snow face which was prettly easy on the up but i placed two more pickets since we were roped up. This eventually rolls over and becomes an easy walk to the summit.
A bunch of summit photos (the views were fabulous, with big, glacier covered peaks in all directions), lunch and it was time to head back down. Going down is always more difficult and this was no different. We went slowly down the 50 deg slope with me placing two pickets along the way. On the arete i placed two more pickets as that was a lot more difficult than going up. Had to be very careful about foot placement. We kept knocking off little snowballs that would take more snow with it and eventually end up as a sluff slide barreling over a cliff a couple of hundred feet below. By the time we got down the entire south side had slid off from this. We also saw part of a cornice go and a section on a steep slope go that we didn't trigger. I was okay with the sluff slides we were causing but i didn't like the other slides so was hoping we could get off of this steep area as soon as possible. Eventually we made it down, picked up lace, and after a break decided to head back down a different way. We continued down the arete over rock and snow which turned out to be an easier way to descend (didn't have to downclimb the ice area) and would have been an easier way to come up but maybe not as interesting. It also didn't require us to rope up as the glacier in this area was very gentle with no crevasses. In addition, it gave us some wonderful views of the big seracs on the glacier that we had climbed around.
We decided to spend one more night at the lake as it was too late to hike out and drive home and it was such a beautiful location why bother hiking down and end up camping who knows where.
All in all this was an excellent trip and i highly recommend it for a fun outing for a 3 day weekend. Beautiful lake, big, glacier covered mountain, steep snow arete and face, and of course wonderful company.
Pictures at: http://picasaweb.google.com/ira.rushwald/WedgeMt?feat=email#
No permits required
ice axes, crampons required
rope, glacier gear, pickets depending on comfort level