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TOPIC: Mamquam Icefield b/c ski trip, March 19, 2016

Mamquam Icefield b/c ski trip, March 19, 2016 1 year 4 months ago #5

  • skookum
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Photo 1: Google Earth shot showing our track over Mamquam Icefield and ending at the base of Delusion Peak.

Trip Summary
Ski tour to Mamquam Mountain from Skookum FSR. Snowed in road added an extra 8 km return to what should have been a decent day. Approached from the heritage Darling Lake trail. Snow conditions above Darling Ridge deteriorated for skiing but got better for skinning.

Warning: this article contains a political message. If you just want roses, sunny days and warm fuzzies then read no further.

I had been up the road to the Watersprite winter route three weeks prior and did a loop back to the dam, coming back along the approach road. At the time, I had estimated it would be snow free after the warmer weather. Not! There was more snow than earlier. It was with a bit of trepidation I drove up to the Watersprite winter trailhead. Caution advised not driving further. Glad we didn't, we would have got stuck for sure.

The ski approach to the dam added an extra 45 minutes and 4 Km each way. We knew with the approaching bad weather that it was going to be a close one.


Photo 2: We found a sketchy crossing of the east fork of Skookum Creek. The look on Dean's face kind of sums it up.


Photo 3: The light was getting flat by the time we crossed Darling Ridge and descending into the valley of Darling Lake. There's an entrance to a hidden avalanche alley between Darling and Delusion just right of photo centre.


Photo 4: Part of Darling Peak above Darling Lake.


Photo 5: Entering the avalanche alley. We're approaching the second and higher lake. Some recent slides had come down off the side slopes but things had firmed up and were stable. That's what's called Manic Peak on Bivouac.com in the background.


Photo 6: Approaching the summit area of Delusion Peak above Mamquam Icefield.

The big white room was coming down. The timing was just a bit off for the summit which is just ahead. Nicolas was out in front at the base of the summit block. I saw Will stop just below that. What I recalled of the summit wasn't helping much in the flat light. The game was up. We would have fared better going for Darling Peak which seemed to miss the worst of the weather coming in. (Edit: this just in from Nicolas. He may have misread his phone app and this is not the summit block. Makes sense to me. I thought it may have been further along the icefield.)

The icefield should have been decent for skiing even though it was all windblown sastrugi but the light was terrible. I hate those sensations when you've come to a stop but sensory deprivation makes it seem like you're still skiing. It stayed bad until we got through the avalanche alley.

A fifteen minute break just before the short climb back onto Darling Ridge took care of my vertigo. Being back in the big trees was welcome after the white room. Best skiing of the day was down the steep, chaotic forest. Trying to keep our skin track in sight. Thanks BC Parks rangers for taking down all the flagging. You guys are real peaches. Not to worry though, we read the terrain like an open book.

After the great tree skiing there was the crossing of the so-called Paranoid Creek (branch of Darling or Skookum Creeks). I'm sure no one would hope for a fatality here and a body being sent down the falls. Or would they? Someone's purpose in an office in Squamish, Vancouver or Victoria would be well served by such an eventuality. A little slip on a slimy rock, a concussion. Bingo, unconscious climber washes down the creek, over the falls. Slap on the back all round for forcing the trail guardians to take down the safety hand cable across the log.

After the creek crossing, there was a slog along the upper S2 line which was a tad acrobatic from the bent over alder. Thanks again to our good friends at FLNRO who stepped up the bizarre enforcement action last summer that would halt work on clearing this old logging road. Not exactly sure what the legality of their actions was but it doesn't align with regulations in the Forest and Range Practices Act. Well done, guys. What have you done about the hundreds of cars being broken into at trailheads all last summer? Nothing? Yeah, we already knew that.

Thanks readers for staying tuned all through the rant.

Great day out with a strong party. Overall stats: 28.5 km, 11 hours 45 minutes, 2356 meters elevation gain although I question the last stat. I found this titbit on the GPS Visualizer site:
GPS devices are not very reliable when it comes to altitude data, and the data can be very "noisy," with ups and downs that shouldn't really be there.
Last Edit: 1 year 3 months ago by skookum.
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