Aug 24, 2011This trip was again a late last decision. I was told by the information center at Whistler, that the Singing Pass Trail is overgrown, and that Helm Creek campground is under snow. As a sidenote, I was told by a fellow hiker at Garibaldi Lake that Helm Creek campground is totally free of snow; that was on August 26.
The hike up to Wedgemount started out unassumingly; no worse than the Halvor Lunden trail. During the final 1-1.5 km, the trail does become pretty steep. I was getting some nasty leg cramps during this section (likely due to the lack of hiking recently), and mosquitoes weren't helping out. This section of the hike reminded me of trip up to Eaton Lake. The trail is well maintained, with a few sections that are slippery.
When the I dropped into the basin, let's just say I was happy. Wedgemount Lake looked as beautiful as all those pictures indicated; it was a great sight to behold. I ran into a family of four who were also going to try for Weart the next day, if any of you happen to read this I would love to hear how your trip panned out. Anyways, I quickly set up my tent, ate, gawked at the stars, and then went to sleep.
Next day, I pretty much followed Matt Gunn's route, as outlined in his book Scrambles in Southwestern BC. The rock all along this scramble was loose and just generally crappy. Anyways, I followed a gully (heading North) to the upper basin; this bit of hiking was a little exposed.
Once at the upper basin I headed West below a headwall. There was a cluster of bluffy rock with a cairn, I set up some marking tape in case I needed it. There was not much snow, I only crossed a few patches, and in my opinion an ice axe was not needed. Anyways, I went too far West, but when I saw the ridge from where I was, I stopped. As stated earlier the Talus and Scree were quite loose, and I also realized at that moment that my helmet was in my tent. I was not about to try that ridge of loose rock without it. I had a break and took some pictures.
I started back towards the gully for my descent. I saw my bluffy rock formation with the cairn, but I didn't remember the cairn having a stick protruding from it. Searched around, something didn't feel right. I told myself to forget searching and just head down the gully immediately to my right. As I descended I saw the other bluffy rock formation, which was the one I had passed earlier; too late I was committed to this gully route, this was a bad choice.
That gully was the worst one I have descended. All the rock was down facing and any bloody rock I grabbed was easily pulling out of the mountainside. I had difficulty descending into the gully itself. I caused a few scary rock slides. Inching my way down I just made slow sure steps and just focused on planning short routes and sticking to them. When I got into the main section of the gully it was not any better. There was a loose top layer of soil over some snow, which I only realized when I stepped down onto it. I was very thankful when I got through that section.
Due to the crappy rock you have to scramble, I will not be trying this mountain again for this season. I will definitely revisit another time though; the prospect of seeing the vista from the top still excites me.
Here's a video I uploaded to youtube.
1. Vista from Upper Basin
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