Matt, Reid, Aaron, and Stock will ski the Garibaldi Névé traverse with a possible ascent of Mount Garibaldi. Steph and Chris will do a ski ascent of Mount Mamquam from the Diamond Head approach. Chris and Steph offer to help Matt et al. shuttle a car to the Rubble Creek trailhead at the other end.
See Reid's waypoints and route plotted on the map. See Matt's photos and trip report, Reid's photos, and Chris' photos.
Matt drops off Group 1 (Aaron, Stock, and Reid) at the Diamond Head access from which point they ski to the Elfin Lakes shelter. Matt drives down to meet Steph and Chris at the Canadian Tire parking lot. Group 2 leave Matt's car at the Rubble Creek access and return back up to the Diamond Head access (965m). Group 2 are skiing by 10:30, reaching Elfin Lakes by 1:00 (1513m).
We leave Elfin Lakes by 2:00 and reach the avalanche slopes of the Gargoyles shortly after. Here Chris decides to remove his skins to "get a few runs in" and "make the most of this downhill". We make our way across the slopes and down toward Ring Creek.
Near the bottom of the valley (1261m) Chris calls out, "Hey guys, watch this!" which he immediately follows by a scream "AAAAHHHHHH@!@!@!!!!" as he skis over the edge of a drop-off (cliff). The five of us watched Chris disappear and helplessly listened to his scream quickly fade away as he fell. We called out Chris' name several times, each time increasing the volume. Failing to hear back from Chris, I proceeded carefully toward the drop-off, not getting too close in case the edge was corniced and not wanting to repeat Chris' performance. As I got closer, I was able to see just how far down the drop was and that it bottomed out in a crevasse-like gap. We weren't on the glacier yet; this gap under the cliff was actually Ring creek beginning to melt through several metres of snow. Knowing Chris may be in trouble, we began digging a snow anchor to lower a rope down to him. Matt skied down a snow bridge to below the drop-off. From there he was able to talk to Chris (who was amazingly uninjured).
It turns out Chris had bounced off the snow on the side of the cliff, avoiding large boulders, and landed spread eagle in the soft snow at the bottom of the gap (see annotated photo). Unfortunately, under this snow was Ring Creek. Most of us have experienced falling in powder with a full pack, tying two skis and two poles into a knot, and being unable to move. This was Chris' predicament, except that hundreds of litres of 0°C water was streaming down his neck and soaking his clothes (and the contents of his pack). After extricating himself from the snow and walking along the stream bottom until he could climb out onto the snow, Chris (with Matt nearby to help) stripped off his wet clothes. Upon pulling out his "dry" clothes from his pack, he unfortunately found them to be wet. Remarkably, Chris remained warm and smiling throughout. Matt checked Chris over for head injuries and other such nasty possible outcomes arising from skiing off a cliff.
As Chris was stripping off his wet underwear, a party of six rounded the hill above and skied toward this amusing sight. Chris eventually got dressed wearing a combination of somewhat dry, not-so-wet, and soaked clothes. To be safe, he decided to return to Elfin Lakes to dry off. The newly-arrived group of six offered to ski back with Chris to the hut and make sure he was okay. Thus, I joined the Névé traverse party and abandoned the plan to climb Mamquam.
After spending over an hour stopped, the five of us skied up just west of the Opal Cone where we set camp (1509m). Reid cooked dinner: mashed potatos and gravy, rice with pepperoni, grasshopper pie, and warm drinks.
|5am wake-up. Clear skies! We head off uphill toward the tent. There are no clouds to be seen above or to the west (some cloud to the east). The air quickly warms and we strip down to t-shirts. As we reach our highpoint (2119m) the clear sky somehow disappears and within ten minutes we find ourselves in complete white-out, snow, wind, and cold. The rope comes out as do the gps, compass, and map. Under zero visibility, in blowing powder, across steep slopes, Matt and Reid masterfully navigate a safe course for us through the crevasses. A sketchy descent over the North Pitt Glacier leads to a gentle climb to the Glacier Pikes saddle (1907m). There we remove our skins and enjoy the descent down to Garibaldi Lake (1465m). The traverse across the lake takes two hours. From here to the parking lot, the trail is better than was anticipated, with the skiing being quick, downhill, and enjoyable. The sharp, icy, and exposed switchback corners make for a quick lesson in quick stops and kick turns. We carry our skis for the last 2.5km as the snow and sunlight disappear. We reach the Rubble Creek parking lot (845m) at 8pm. The car is packed. Matt, Stock, and Aaron take off; Reid and Steph hitch back to North Vancouver in record time. (Thanks to Andrea for picking us up so late in North Vancouver.)|
Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis. John Baldwin. Gordon Soules Book Publishers. 1994.
Garibaldi Provincial Park website. BC Parks.
Canada NTS 92 G/14 Cheakamus River 1:50,000.
Canada NTS 92 G/15 Mamquam Mountain 1:50,000.
Garibaldi. International Travel Maps. 1:100,000.
Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC Parks (pdf)