Finding information on Sky Pilot is easy, plenty of places to look. Even Ledge Mountain next door has half decent info. The Copilot, well not so much. There's no trip reports that I could find and Bivouac mentions the East Gully (loose, class 3-4), but pictures can't be found. Dru and his brother Chris have done it, so asking Dru he says "it's not too bad, so loose you can't place any protection and you got to go down what you go up." He also mentioned a west ridge class 4 route.
Knowing Dru and what he considers easy could well end up being quite hard I thanked him for his advice and with Spectrum along for the ride we headed up to Squamish and then on to the Mamquam River FSR.
Parking near the gated Stawamus/Indian River FSR we jumped on our bikes and headed up that road for about 1.5km to where the Shannon Creek FSR branches off. This road has been fixed up for some more logging done in the past couple of years, and though steep is in good shape. The culverts are still in, but there are mostly mild water bars to cycle through.
After a couple of km the road reverts back to its overgrown state. So far we've walked a few of the steep and loose parts, but are making good time. Around 5km from when we started we get to the boulder blockade.
Here's Al getting to the boulders.
The road steepens again and is strewn with loose rocks and gravel. We push our bikes up this section until the road makes a turn and the grade eases. From here it's a combination of bike and hike for a while. Eventually, the grade lessons and the bed is in good shape and apart from one or two big ditches it's a nice ride to where the Habrich Spur branches off about 4.5km from the boulders.
We stash the bikes here and looking southwards we can see The Copilot. Now, we have a further three or so km to hike up this road to its end. Some parts are in pretty good shape and others have a fair amount of alder in the way. Mad Owl Woman did some pruning up this way last month - thanks.
Getting to the end of the road we ascend into a basin, head up on some boulders then make a right turn onto the trail. The trail bed is pretty obvious and there's a decent amount of flagging around. Gradually we make our way upwards through the forest until we get to a large rocky basin. Here, we head up to the left and make our way steeply at times on a combination of snow and scree/gravel to emerge next to the Stadium Glacier.
Sky Pilot is directly above us and Copilot is off to the southwest.
Copilot on the right, Stadium Glacier below.
A zoom. Which looks like a good way up it to you?
We take a break and then start across the glacier heading for the reddish coloured rock seen in the broader picture above. No problem getting over there and I head up to a shelf that looks good from afar.
Good from afar maybe, but far from good once we get there. It's got a downward slope and is lined with loose gravel and scree. Lots of care taken on this part.
Here's Al working his way carefully along the shelf.
After that we get on to some good rock and scramble upwards. At first the snow looked like a good option to gain the ridge east of the peak, but the good rock continued onwards and so did we.
On good rock above the red shelf.
An idea of the approach to the ridge.
Al nearing the ridge crest. Sky Pilot behind.
Crossing some snow further up we get on the ridge proper and make away over to the base of Copilot. Now then, where is this east gully that will get us up there? Nothing much to see on the ridge line, so we drop off slightly to the south where a gash is visible. Looks OK to start, but not so good about half way up. The brown/red rock does look loose and unpleasant, and we really don't want to go there.
Thinking about what we could see earlier from the approach the decision was made to head back around to the northeastern side of the peak and check out a prominent gully there. We contour around on rock and snow and get to the base of that gully. I'm not sure if this is the east gully mentioned as the route up as it seemed more northeast than east, and the rock around here was grey and pretty solid.
Copilot from the ridge. Left side didn't look so good, so we're gonna try the gully seen on the right above the snow.
Anyway, this looked challenging, but we had no more options (except to give up - yeah right), so we figured to give it a go. I headed up first and found it to be OK. Lot's of good hand holds, but I had to be careful of loose stones on the small ledges. We both had helmets on (Al had climbing, I had my bike helmet).
Here's Al ascending the first part of the gully.
I did dislodge some stones heading up. One small one bounced off of Al's helmet. Taking a bit more care, making sure he was out of the line of fire I went up a bit more and discovered a rap sling around a stunted tree. This was good news in a way. At least people had been here before, but they were rappelling themselves down (or maybe belaying some of them up).
The other good news was that Al had brought his rope, so a handline coming down would be a big benefit.
A look up at the route.
Al about half way up. The length of the climb was about 200feet of mostly class 4 with some exposure.
Past the half way point I found another rap sling which again was good news. Beyond that, it was still steep, but with no problems I pop out just shy of the summit and walk up the rest to the top. Al soon joins me and after some huzzahs we get around to the serious business of taking pictures.
1. Al looks off towards Mount Sheer, Ben Lomond and Ben More. Coquitlam, Bishop, Seymour, Cathedral and Burwell visible to the rear.
2. Goat Ridge is just over there.
3. Sky Pilot to the east.
4. Looking back down into the valley where we came from (Shannon Creek FSR). Squamish way down below and Tantalus area at rear.
5. Summit (1880m) shot.
We had a look for this west ridge route, but nothing over that way looked like anything we'd want to go up or down. Back to our ascent route we went and started downwards. Nothing too difficult, just take it easy and check the holds.
Starting to descend from the summit.
A solid small tree looked promising about 25 feet down, so Al pulled out his rope and we ran a hand line round it. This made life easier and got us close to the slings near the mid point. Running the rope through the two slings we continued downwards.
An idea of the descent.
Sky Pilot was grabbing my attention from less than a km away.
The rope ran out about 20 feet away from the next sling, so we downclimbed a bit carefully, then ran the rope again which got us down to about 30 feet above the gully entrance. A short chimney, and more good rock then got us back on to the top of the snow.
The last section (or first if you're going up) above the snow.
Crossing on the snow, I then dropped down for a bit to get a shot of the route.
Straight up the middle, summit at right.
Habrich with Garibaldi behind.
As the snow was in good shape we stuck with it and stayed below the ridge. Getting back over to where we came up on the loose rock shelf we decided to side hill over to the upper southwest corner of the glacier and descend that way. This went well.
Back across the glacier we go and take another well deserved rest. On the glacier we'd been discussing heading up Sky Pilot as we weren't too tired and it was so close by. However, we'd both done it in times past and decided not to bother.
An idea of the approach and route up Copilot.
We retrace our steps down the snow and rock into the broad basin, turn back onto the trail, hit the old road and follow it out to our bikes. Another quick rest here and then the fun begins.
Back at the bikes at the Shannon/Habrich FSRs junction along with The Copilot as seen from there.
All we can say here is that bringing the bikes makes for a great way to end the trip. No slogging it out for over 9km down a logging road. Al was on a classic Diamond Back with no suspension and semi knobbed tires. I had front suspension and knobbies, so I had one hell of a great time flying down the old road. 25 minutes back to the boulder blockade and then less than 20 minutes from there back down to the gate. The nice thing was that I didn't wipe out and the only time I got off the bike was to cross one large washout/ditch and to wait for Al. I think I need to get out mountain biking a bit more, I forget how much of a rush it can be sometimes.
Al soon joined me back at the truck and we were all done in less than ten hours. From there it was off to McDonald's in Squamish and then back to Vancouver. All in all a good day out and thanks for coming Al
Map of route.