The lack of rain on the west coast has meant that fall hiking conditions are some of the best we have seen in recent years. Whether this is a foreshadowing of another weak winter and minimal snow is irrelevant at this point. We can’t complain about the weather, and to be honest it’s nice to still see sunshine in October. But more simply, we can’t change the forecast so we’ll make do with whatever comes our way. The warm weather has made scrambling an easy choice. We often explore mountains in the winter but forget the beauty that they hold in the summer.
After wrapping up another hectic road bike racing season, a reset was needed, so over the past five weeks we have been methodically ticking off some of the best classic scrambles on the South Coast – made easy with highlights in Matt Gunn’s Scrambles In Southwest British Columbia. We’ve skied a lot of the areas in the winter, so we’ve been venturing to new destinations with an aim to identify the skiing potential, and importantly, assess the approaches and ascertain the slog-factor that may present in winter.
We profiled the Opal lake area in an earlier post but since then we have covered off a couple more areas.
Frosty Mountain, Manning Park
Nestled in Manning Park this pounded-in trail moves through a beautiful larch forest and at the top provided amazing views of the cascades. The car camping factor was welcomed after the previous weekend was a full-on four day camping mission. The comforts of a growler and bacon made the day of climbing better. Not all adventures need to be roughing it to be fun.
Brandywine Mountain, near Whistler, BC
The Sea to Sky region has mountains calling out every time you drive north to Whistler. They’re memorizing to gaze at. Extensive logging in select areas over the years within the region has made approaches to most of these mountains very easy. A ramble up a road with a 4-wheel drive vehicle and half the battle is done.
Brandywine is a year round area with snowmobiling, cat and heliskiing in the winter (and a great area to do some sled access ski touring mid week when the crowds are working). The area is well signed to get to the trailhead and has both 4wd and 2wd access which makes it an easy day hike for those in Vancouver. Having some knowledge of the area from skiing in the winter, we were wanting to expand some of our familiarity with the terrain for possible ski missions this year.
We witnessed a new hiking trail in the process of development across the valley which will make travel on the flat ground very quick. The views of the Black Tusk, Whistler and the Squamish valley peaks are reward for hiking the three hours to the summit from the parking lot.
Locomotive Mountain, near Pemberton, BC
Covering the last of a few productive stints in the mountains, we headed to Semaphore Lakes at the top of Railroad Pass, north of Pemberton. This area is popular! Likely because of the easy, but somewhat steep, one-hour hike from the road to the main camping zone. We had been to this area several years ago to camp but not to climb. We had targeted this place as an easy weekend trip.
This first time we were in this area was 2007 and we were pretty green to mountain travel and were intimidated by the ascent. So drinking beer at the lake had to do. This time around, we reached for the top and summited. The views are outstanding and seeing Pemberton and the Icecap make this one of the most scenic scrambles we did all summer.
The snow is slowly returning to the hills but there are still a few chances to get some peaks in before the boots are traded in for skis. You never know, scrambling with skis may replace good turns for the early season in 2016.