To complete the Watersprite Lake/Mamquam SW Summits trilogy of TRs in this area it was decided to try for the highest peak. Crawford Peak (named after the creek that drains its south slopes) is the highest point between Vancouver and the Mamquam Mountain Massif and is just barely in the south part of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Here are the other two trip reports into this area along with a link to Burnabyhiker's Flickr photo of the area from the Elfin Lakes Trail.
Overview of area.
No Shrubhugger on this trip as he was heading for the Haylmore area past Pemberton. Burnabyhiker having missed out on the other trips due to commitments was able to get the Friday off and that morning found us driving up towards Squamish. No snow to worry about along the Mamquam River FSR and the first part of R Line was in good shape except for a burnt out vehicle blocking the road not far from the turn off.
Getting around that was easy enough and we managed to get about 2.5km up the road before snow stopped us (760m el.). Less than four minutes of walking got us to the R/S Line junction. Upwards we continue on R Line almost to it's end before dropping down into a valley to then follow Watersprite Creek upstream towards Watersprite Lake.
Watersprite Lake and Tower.
The plan was to head for the col between Watersprite Tower and Dreadnought's south ridge which is at skyline left of the above shot.
Lot's of fresh snow around, but easy enough to navigate through with snowshoes. On route to the col we pass the broad gully that Ramsay (Shrubhugger) and I used to come down from our Dreadnought trip. Upon reaching the col I take a break and have a look down into the upper Crawford Valley. There is a pretty steep gully we'll have to descend before we can start working our way around the east side of Dreadnought.
Chris on the start of the steep gully.
Looking down the gully into the Crawford Creek Valley.
Not much sloughing of snow (avalanche rating was moderate for the day) as we dropped down about 200m elevation. Now it looked like we could traverse across slopes beneath the east side of Dreadnought or we could drop further down and then ascend gentler slopes to gain the ridge leading east towards Crawford. I didn't want to deal with more elevation gain than necessary plus a bit more distance, so I cajoled Chris into trying the traverse.
Here's Chris on the first part of the side-hilling.
And here's a look ahead to what else we have to cross the gain the west ridge of Crawford.
I won't say the traverse was that easy or pleasant. It was damn hot, quite a bit of snow debris, some scoured areas and steepish slopes (iceaxe helped quite a bit), but eventually we made it over to the ridge. Heading up a bit to get a good vantage I take some more pictures and wait for Chris to catch up so we can take a well deserved break.
Looking ahead towards Crawford Peak.
Looking back at the traverse.
The views now are opening up nicely though there is a bit of high cloud and haze in the air. We continue along the ridge which has a few challenging ups and downs (one 15 foot near vertical snow wall took some patience, stamina and heavy use of the iceaxe). I get to another small knoll and again pull out the camera.
Chris on the ridge with Dreadnought behind.
At this point Chris decided that he didn't feel like continuing on to the summit. It was still a little ways off and we were both feeling somewhat drained from the fast pace we had set earlier in the day along with the heat of the sun and getting up early (or going to bed too late).
He decided to have a siesta where he was whilst I continued onwards. After a couple of small but steep drop offs I got off the ridge for a bit and did some more traversing on south slopes. Another little dip past a tarn area I then start ascending northwards for a while and then contour eastward again to finally approach the summit area from the northwest.
By now my pace was getting quite slow but I plugged away at it until nearly 6 hours after we started I was standing on the peak. Elevation here is 2050m and with the views near and far it certainly was worth all that effort.
1. Southwest view towards Martin Peaks. Sky Pilot etc. at rear.
2. Old Pierre to the ESE.
3. Mamquam just 4km away to the north.
4. Bucklin Peak with a back drop of Nimbus, Katzie, Stalo area.
5. Crawford Creek Valley. Pinecone Lake area peaks are centre shot.
Me feeling better after eating cold pizza.
The Cotard Peak area (Bivouac names) with Judge Howay and Robie Reid visible on the skyline.
After 40 or so minutes of picture taking and eating (mostly picture taking) I pack up and start to head back. Chris is visible as a small speck way off in the distance.
A look back at the summit of Crawford (right).
Crawford west ridge with Dreadnought behind.
Zooming in. Chris is visible bottom of shot.
Did some good sliding in places and then it was back to traversing again for a while before a quick steep climb to meet up with Chris. He'd wandered around a bit and also had a relaxing nap
. Incidentally, where he was looks like the boundary of crown land, Garibaldi and Pinecone-Burke Provincial Parks.
Traverse and ridge walking tracks to the summit of Crawford.
It was decision time now on the return route. Chris didn't fancy the long traverse under Dreadnought and I didn't want to drop down further into the valley and then have to regain all that elevation. Ramsay and I a while back had discussed the Paranoid Creek Valley (north of where we currently were) as a viable route. Problem was, I had forgot all the maps back in the vehicle. But, it looked easy enough to drop down there and we figured to just follow the creek westward until we hit a clearcut or logging road.
Did we really think it would be just that easy[
Another shot of Dreadnought from the ridge near where we dropped off it to head down towards Paranoid Creek.
This is what we're heading down. Paranoid Creek below, Garibaldi at left and part of the Mamquam Massif at right.
The initial drop off the ridge was a bit steep and Chris took the time to kick in some steps. I on the other hand just took the easy way and slid down it. With skis this would be a awesome descent of 400m el. On snowshoes it still was a lot of fun and the views north to Mamquam were grand.
Chris heads down and Mamquam sure looks nice.
Yeah, we're having fun.
Getting near to the valley bottom Mamquam is now looming 1200m above, 3km and a glacier or two away. We turn away from it and start working our way down next to Paranoid Creek. This went easy enough with one or two creek crossings thrown in for good measure.
Here's Chris in the forest near the creek.
Eventually things level out and we enter a marshy area with many snags. Looking behind us we get a dramatic view of Dreadnought and Garibaldi is straight ahead.
Snags and Garibaldi.
Dreadnought from the northwest.
After a while we get back into living forest and the terrain steepens around the creek. Here we decide to head more southwest over a minor ridge (which we were hoping was the lower part of Dreadnought's west ridge) and hopefully find a logging road.
Travel through the forest was pleasant and after going up for a bit we start to drop down and then emerge at the edge of a cutblock. We go through that and hit a logging road. Right then, all's good from now on...yeah sure it is. A quick break and a look around has us deciding to head down the road into the Skookum Creek Valley to find S Line which we would then follow back out to R Line.
When we first emerged from the forest we could see a logged ridge southeast of us that I refused to believe was the lower west ridge of Dreadnought. Found out later that it was and it turns out we were way further up the Skookum Creek Valley then previously thought. Once back at the vehicle and looking at the maps we discovered that Paranoid Creek goes to the northwest rather than west. Anyway, heading down this road we were on was the mistake. If we'd followed it up it probably would have saved us a lot of time and probably gotten us onto the road that winds its way around that west ridge. From there it would be no problem to get back to R Line. Hell, we might have found S Line as we couldn't tell where it was when we went down into the valley.
It's great to speculate after the fact (and look at a map or two), but needless to say we went down. The road curved to the left and ended. Hmmm, now what. Keep going down then. We hit another road which also dead ends. Go down some more, follow a creek, look for alder, get close to Skookum Creek and finally come across the heavily choked alder road that at least heads in the right direction. Start to follow it.
Chris is smiling, but we are doing 4km of this.
I can't believe S Line would be this overgrown. Well, it wasn't. After around 4km of alder thrashing, pulled bridge creek crossings and darkness (didn't forget the headlamps at least) we reach a junction and lo and behold there's a cleared road that is a pleasure to walk on. We both have one of those "ah-ha" moments as we realize that this is S Line. See the map posted below for an idea of the roads and the route taken to Crawford.
Not much further is the R/S Line junction and then we're back at the vehicle tired, well whipped by alder branches and a little sun burned. One Cherry Coke later and it's off to Squamish for the best tasting McDonalds in some time. Round trip was nearly 12.5 hours and I figure the elevation gain to be somewhere around 1850m cumulative.
A good way to say goodbye to winter
Map of route.