Reaching the Summit!
A multi-day mountaineering trip to Mount Garibaldi’s Northeast Face

Setting off on a smoky August day in Squamish BC, the team of 3 plus Guillaume had planned and prepared for a 3-4 day hike of Mount Garibaldi’s Northeast Face, a predominant volcanic mountain party covered in Glaciers on its North Flanks.

“This Alpine Guide Training is designed to introduce students to working in alpine guiding and extreme mountaineering application, using old and new techniques and moving through complex alpine terrain”- Guillaume Otis, guide at Coast Mountain Guides introduces the Alpine Guide course as he gives us his report on the final leg of the program, Alpine Guide Level 3.

The group started their ascent to 2678m at Brohm Ridge with heavy packs and full of energy and anticipation. The route the group had carefully decided on passed viewpoint of Dalton Dome, Table Mountain and many part of the Garibaldi provincial park.

2018 Alpine Mountaineering Training

Day 1 Achievement
The team made it to 2100m at Warren Glacier on day 1, the location not only provided unparalleled views but fresh water and clearer air making it a perfect place to set up camp. No rest was had for this adventurous team as once camp was set up and eating dinner, they headed to the moraine close by, a dirt spine of loose rocks created by glaciers. This gave them a vantage point over the route for the following day and provided the opportunity to access the crevasses they would be crossing on their route.

The Importance of Crevasse Rescue Techniques
In Level 1 and 2, the team had learnt crevasse rescue skills imperative to safety when travelling on glaciers. This training was put to good use on this final trip up Mt. Garibaldi. Guillaume explains, “The crevasses, some of them at least 70m deep, change every year and their locations and state can’t always be referred to previously reported conditions from other parties.”, they are perilous, and skill and awareness are key to navigating them.

The final Ascent
With a 4am alarm clock, the team headed on their final ascent (not before much needed fuel of coffee and porridge!). Equipment upgrades were needed when travelling this high in the alpine so on went the crampons and rope connected to each person. 7.30am rolled around and the Northeast face was now in sight, but the team had the toughest part of the trip ahead of them, route planning to find the ‘crux’ of the climb and planning how to execute this.

Navigating several large crevasses and a Bergshrund, which mountain expert Guillaume explains as, “a large horizontal crack at the head of the glacier created when the ice/snow field become steeper and the glacier disconnect from the mountain above”, with a slope of approximately 50 degrees this was a real challenge requiring front point crampons, technical steps and ice axe placements.

A final scramble and the team had made it to the summit, at 10.30am in 15c temperatures and light winds. A fantastic achievement for a courageous group showing great mountaineering skills and teamwork. “A few handshakes and hugs would be in order for a job well done. We sat on the summit for an hour contemplating our accomplishment and congratulating our achievement”, Guillaume Otis on the summit celebrations.

A Wolverine sight on the Descent
Following their track up back down, the team made it down to Squamish by 5pm, encountering no other than Wolverine, often only seen in remote areas of the Yukon Territory, this was not only an incredible rare sight, but following the Wolverine’s trail saved them half an hour on their descent. Proving that no matter the equipment and route planning knowledge we may have, animals in nature always have the upper hand (/Paw!).

The team rested had dinner looking at the orange sun set with our minds full of joy and personal pride.

2018 Alpine Mountaineering Training

Alpine Guide Training Program
The Alpine Guide program is focussed towards those who are looking to their mountaineering skills to new heights. Students will have prior mountaineering/climbing skills and be prepared to spend up to 4 days in the backcountry. If you’d like to know more about Alpine challenges in the Sea to Sky’s backcountry and all out other courses, please visit: www.whistleradventureschool.com

 

Photo credit and text (based on trip report): Guillaume Otis, Coast Mountain Guides