Despite drizzle following us from Vancouver, it turned out to be a wonderful day in the mountains complete with great views and an excellent company. No snow tires were needed on the Coquihalla. We put snowshoes on right from the start and initially followed the marked summer trail. The bottom part of the trail is well-packed and would be fine with crampons as well.
First following new and old ski tracks, then breaking trail, we were in the open in under an hour and continued South along the ridge, enjoying occasional breaks in the clouds. Due to above zero temperatures, the snow was quite heavy but not icy. Saw two small avalanches run down the steep NW side of the Needle peak and felt happy we were a gully away. Multiple avalanche traces on Needle and Yak peaks. With plenty of time to spare, we often stopped to chat, laugh and indulge in the surrounding views; at the end of the hike my GPS read that we spent 2h40min standing and 4h10min moving.
From the bowl below the final ascent to Flatiron, five of us went around the cornice on the left side, while two took the route on the right along the rocks. Met up at the communications tower for lunch in a sudden complete white-out; didn't linger for long there, but as we got down to the ridge it cleared up again and became much warmer, so we took our time jumping small cornices and playing snowball fights. Debated for a bit whether we want to scramble part of the way up the Needle peak ridge or follow the ridge SE, but decided on rather getting home earlier. Got down to the car and anxiously turned the radio on to learn that Canada won the gold medal match. Woo-hoo!
Huge thanks to Eric and Cara+Chris for driving 400km in a day. This was a Wanderung trip organized by me.