Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cypress Peak Scramble

Cypress Peak

Cypress Peak Scramble
July 14, 2013

Camp Site, Tricouni in background

This weekend Mike and I headed out to the Squamish River Valley, High Falls Area, to do some climbing.  Our initial objective was to Climb the North Ridge of Tricouni Peak, traverse Cypress Peak's South Ridge to the summit of Cypress Peak and then down the North Ridge of Cypress Peak back to the car.  We arrived at the trail head the night before to prepare for an early start and noticed that there was a significant amount of snow still lingering in the area.  The approach to Tricouni's North Ridge would have involved a large amount of very steep snow travel and the South Ridge traverse was still heavily snow covered with several large cornices.

Hiking up the snow fields
Based on these observations, we decided to play it safe, leave Tricouni for another day, and go for Cypress Peak, via its North Ridge, instead. We camped for the night on the Roe Creek FSR and started our climb at 8am the next morning. We had stellar weather and the place to ourselves.  The hike started with a romp through a cut block and a "fun" creek crossing followed by a small section of boulder hopping on the other side.  From there we ascended a large snow slope (Scree slope later in the season) and made good time on the approach to the ridge. 

Scrambling up the Moraine

The snow gave way to a section of hiking up a steep, grassy moraine and then back to some more snow. The snow was stellar and made for quick travel. There is a small glacier in the basin, so it's best to stay climber's right to avoid travelling on the glacier.  We thought we had been doing this but about 2/3 of the way up the basin we had to step over a crevasse on our route, Yikes! We booked it immediately right from there to get off of the glacier and avoid further crevasse crossings. 

Looking back at the route; Roe Creek FSR

It took us about 2.5 hour to gain the ridge and from there we found more snow slopes to work our way up along the ridge. Part way along we came across a camp that belonged to a group of 4 hikers that we just noticed ahead of us on the ridge. That's dedication to haul your gear all the way up there! 

Snowy Ridge

Views from the Ridge

From there we reached the crux of the route, a 3rd/4th class step about 20m high. The holds were good though so we made quick work of ascending the step before scrambling on some more, less exposed, rock. We then reached another short rib of snow on the narrowing ridge to negotiate before reaching the final summit pyramid.  The final pyramid was an easy 3rd class rock scramble all the way to the top @ 2083m.  
The Crux

Summit Shot

The view from the top was excellent with sights like the Tantalus range, Whistler, Black Tusk, Tricouni, and Garibaldi Lake all visible. The full 4000ft ascent took us 3hrs 45min. We enjoyed our lunch on the summit taking in the views and visiting with the other party of climbers we met at the top. 
Enjoying the Views (Tricouni)

The trip down was fast, with all the snow slopes you could boot ski a majority of the elevation making it fun and fast to get back to the car. After another "fun" crossing of Roe Creek (Where I shimmied over some tree branches now that the water was a bit higher and seemed kinda scary to rock-hop across), we arrived back to the car in 2hrs and 15min from the time we left the summit. 

Random Sign high on the mountain

Overall, this is a super fun trip that can be done in a day from Vancouver.  You need a high-clearance vehicle to reach the trail head on the FSRs. You can do it with a 2WD, but will most likely have to hike a couple km down the logging road. The route is mostly a steep hike with a fun scramble and short lived difficulties on the ridge. The Crux can be avoided by traversing right into a shorter, less exposed chimney that can be scrambled up. Don't go too early in the season as the creek is impassible during high-runoff. It was nice having the snow fields available to hike up to avoid some of the scree and Talus slopes as well. and very nice to slide down the snow on Teh descent. Late June - Late July seems like a good time to do this scramble.

Down climbing the Ridge

Trip Stats: 

Full trip time 6hrs (3hrs 45min ascent, 2hr 15min descent)
~9km of distance travelled 
4000ft of elevation gain
we took ice axes and aluminum crampons just in case but didn't use them


Links to route info:

Also described in Matt Gunn's "Scrambles" guidebook

Looking back at the Peak

Down Climbing the Crux

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