Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pemberton to Whistler by the high Road (Currie to Wedge Traverse)

This is my seventh winter living on the coast - the first one was just ok followed by four very good ones and an below average one last year (see stats). This year has been difficult - the best turns so far were Remembrance Day in Asulkan Cabin, a trip that we almost didn't even go on because we thought that the snow was going to be bad. Since then there have been a number of snowfalls, generally followed by a pineapple express with freezing levels above the local peaks, turning everything into boilerplate and then a high pressure system of no snow. There is so little snow at low elevations, that many of the forestry roads are still clear making access to higher terrain possible. With a large number of warm storms, above 1900m though, the snowpack in the alpine is at near normal levels. This weekend we wanted to get way up high, around here it doesn't get much higher than the Currie to Wedge Traverse.

The high divide between Hibachi Ridge and Ure Peak, We were headig toward the small but obvious saddle in the ridge ahead.

After a number of organizing emails and shuttling a car to the Wedgmont Lake, we arrived at the Pemberton Airport to a thick layer of valley fog which luckily lifted quickly. We hoped in a Blackcomb Aviation Bell 407 and 8 minutes later we were sitting pretty at 2553m beside the summit of Mt Currie. The big concern for this trip was what the rain two days before had done to the snowpack, we were quite afraid that we were going to be dealing with the boiler plate that plagued he coast for most of the winter but fortunately it snowed on top of the rain making skiing actually quite good for most of the day.
Adam and Andrew ready to roll for a 600m decent off the south side of Mt Currie.
600m run to start, my legs were feeling it.
The first big climb of the day up to Hibachi Ridge
Andrew and Albert trying to find themselves. My guess is that didn't happen until later that night at CreekBread.
The most famous educator in the group
Andrew can slash anything in any conditions
This was a difficult skin, crampons would have helped. Ed gave advice, I would have hit him with a pole. 
The climb up to Ure peak reminded me how important it was to come prepared for these types of trips. If we had been dropped off at the peak and found a thick and slippery crust everywhere, there would have been no way that we could have skinned many of the ascents, making crampons a necessity. Despite this trip not being that far from  civilization, an exit to the highway anywhere but at the wedgemont trail would have necessitated an unplanned overnight in the mountains.

This traverse covers serious terrain, on this day the avalanche danger was low, which was good because many of the ascents and descents were in serious avalanche terrain. Creavasse fall was another thing that we were cognizant of and we were fully equipt with crevasse rescue equipment.

Short and easy bootpack to the col beside Ure Peak, the last steep climb of the traverse
Highest concentration of G3 Ion bindings in Garibaldi Park and maybe on the planet. The Owls in the background
No one has ever drank as many beers here as we did.

Looking down towards the Weart Glacier, this was a great decent, Andrew's glasses aren't even a joke
Telemarkers are people too.
Albert knows all about Nigerian Politics. I know all about the Reality TV show Sister Wives
Nice work Adam

The Weart glacier is a 4km skin, we completed it at a pace that was just fast enough to be uncomfortable
We aren't very good sand people
The suggested caption for this photo was not appropriate for my grandchildren's eyes.
This is the Wedgemont trail, Never bring anyone you like here. It took 2.5 hours from the lake but felt soo much longer. We 'skied' down to 1500m and slipped the rest of the way. Great trip
Total trip took 11 hours, ~1600m of elevation gain and 20km on skis

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