Mamquam - March 2004
Reid crosses the chutes down from the Gargoyles before descending to Ring Creek.
Reid and Chris rest atop the ridge below the Opal Cone.
Under sunny skies, every trip to these parts demands a photo of Garibaldi. lists several trip reports of unsuccessful attempts on Mamquam. Most are the result of being socked-in by bad weather. We had perfect weather, and had it not been for me slowing them down, Chris Tarling, Reid Holmes, and Matt Brown would likely have stood on the summit of Mamquam on Saturday March 13, 2004. See Matt's photos and Reid's photos of Mamquam.
No broken ankle will prevent Reid from demonstrating elegant telemark technique.
Matt smiles after having successfully negotiated the slope without falls.
Lots of sunshine.
We left Vancouver Friday morning at 6:00 am, resting comfortably on the leather seats of Chris' sports utility vehicle (unlike the other three, Chris is employed and can afford something other than a 3-cylinder hatchback). After a quick stop at Tim Horton's (where the employed guy purchased coffee, doughnuts, and a sandwich for the day) we headed up to the Diamond Head parking lot from which we were skiing by 8:20 am. Lunch at Elfin lakes at 11:30 am. The descent to Ring Creek required the usual fifteen minutes of searching for the least unpleasant route to the bottom. Chris then broke a trail of nice switchbacks all the way up the ridge south of the Opal Cone (first of many instances where Steph's pace slows the group). Here we travelled east above Zig Zag Creek to the ridge above Mamquam Lake (near the Rampart Ponds on 92/G15). We set camp at 5:00 pm. As the sun set that evening we enjoyed the rare combination of warmer-than-expected temperatures, clear skies, and no wind.
On Saturday we awoke at 6:15 am. After a hot breakfast we were skiing by 8:00 am. From here Chris found a nice descent route to Mamquam Lake, then down just east of Skookum Creek to Eanastick Meadows. Such a loss of elevation before having to climb Mamquam is midly discouraging (especially knowing it will have to be ascended again in the evening). As Baldwin recommends, we headed south across the meadows to gain the ridge at its mellower right end. We then followed the ridge crest until it leaves the treeline. Under a warm sun we chose the only obvious line of ascent. Just below the col onto the Mamquam summit icefield is a short steep section across which we switchbacked. I was breaking trail at this point. Perhaps I should have made the swithback earlier; I slipped and cut my elbow after a short slide on the snow. Upon gaining flat ground above, Dr. Brown patched me up with duct tape and gauze. Based on the time of day, my bleeding elbow, our fear of the necessary steep descent, and not wanting to slow down Matt and Chris any further, Reid and I turned around at the col at 1:30 pm. Reid scrambled to the nearby summit (northern highpoint on the Mamquam complex). We spent a half hour enjoying the sun and taking photos (including the above sequence of Chris and Matt trying to decypher an icy slope leading to the Mamquam icefield - the solution they suggest is to descend and follow the lower icefield). Thus, Chris and Matt traversed the summit icefield until they reached their turn-around time of 3:00 pm just below the Mamquam summit. In the meantime, Reid and Steph were enjoying glade skiing back down to Eanastick Meadows (with a few lenghty breaks lounging in the sun). The steep section wasn't so bad on descent after all. By 4:00 we reached the meadows, 5:00 pm Mamquam Lake, and just after 6:00 pm we were back at camp. Matt and Chris surprised up by showing their smiling faces just before 7:00 pm, just in time for a hot drink.
After climbing the Hillary step, Reid reaches the corniced summit of... some unnamed subsummit.
The author sporting Dr. Brown's handywork on his left elbow.
Sunday morning we again rose at 6:15 am, this time to snow and fog. After breaking camp we skied out in zero visibility at 8:30 am. Bringing back memories of the Columbia Icefields, we navigated by compass and gps with Reid and Chris leading the way. Again I slid down a slope and held everyone up as I kicked steps back to the top. Luckily, the clouds broke just as we reached the descent off the Opal Cone. This newfound visibility made the descent down to Ring Creek enjoyable. We were back at Elfin Lakes at noon where we took a lengthy lunch break. Back down at the car at 3:30 followed by 7-11, where they sell two hot dogs for $2.22.
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