The recreational possibilities in the coast mountains is endless between hiking, skiing and mountain biking. There are more adventures than one person could cover in a lifetime. For us, a free long weekend normally means one thing – an adventure. This time around (really, as most times around in the summer) we were hunting for potential winter terrain north of Pemberton, BC.
We set off at a pretty normal hour, and took our time (with a few coffee stops) to get to the Hurley Forest Service Road before turning on to the Hope Creek Forest Service Road. Hope Creek is groomed in the winter by backcountry snowcats to support their cat skiing business. We were off to tackle Chipmunk Peak and Tenquille Mountain (Whistler Heli tenure). The approach was slightly challenging with no real path banged in. A little bushwacking was met with intermittent flagging before reaching to our first objective, Opal Lake.
Looking around, we quickly imagine the possibilities of winter travel. Though the access is long (35km of sledding just to get to these areas), the terrain features make this a possible destination with great rewards. Our thirst for new terrain is also met with being mindful of these tenured areas, and respecting the area that many work hard to make a living off of (shuttling adventurers alike) up the hills. There is plenty of room for all to play, but sleds should be used for access only and not to bust hot laps on groomed cat roads.
We reached the lake by 2pm which gave us the chance to tackle Chipmunk Mountain before sunset. The guide book referenced steep heather slopes, but it turned out to be closer to death-bump-side-hill-ankle-busting terrain. The recent dusting of snowfall was visible in the hills. Thankfully is wasn’t too long of sliding backwards on scree, that we reached the snowline and were able to make quick steps up the slope.
Before we knew it we were a top the mountain in a little under two hours from camp.
On Day 2 we had Tenquille Mountain on our mind. It looked straight forward for the most part except for a well known exposed step. The first 1.5 hrs blew by and we were on the ridge to the summit. The recent snows provided some interesting route finding and cautious steps to avoid any big holes that were covered. The crux of the climb, a little exposed step, was a simple one-move commitment on good rock with decent jugs for hand holds. I would recommend a rope for those not super comfortable rock climbing (aka soloing above a big cliff)
Overall the best part of the three day trip was not just the peak-bagging, but being the only ones in the whole drainage. The solitude was comforting and we were able to take some great photos for possible winter use. With the amazing fall weather approaching, you can bet there will be more similar adventures in the books!