Not even close to Mt. John Decker - 2010-11-06 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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Default Not even close to Mt. John Decker - 2010-11-06

Photoset:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/realawo...th/5153690134/

We attempted Mt. John Decker from its eastern side, but didn't come close due to the worst bushwack I have ever seen (progress 2 hours/km).

Elevation Profile:


Google Earth birdseye:

(Yellow = highways; Blue = FSRs; Red = hike)

Google Earth 3d:




A group of 7 set off Friday after work and made our way through Birken to the Blackwater Creek FSR and the campground at the northern end of Birkenhead Lake. Unfortunately I once again forgot my tripod at home, so I had to do some tricky balancing for the long exposure night shots.

This could be an XTrail ad:


Car camping:


Stars:



The weather was good and the temperatures didn't get down that cold. (Once again the weather forecast missed the mark entirely. We had ~4 people bail on Friday due to the poor weather outlook, but the weather we had was perfect). Saturday morning we packed up and drove outside of the park and parked at the Phelix Creek branch. (Note to those wanting to get into the Tolken Group - I understand the road has been cleared and is now drivable a good way in.)

Geared up and ready to go at first light:



We walked back down the Blackwater Creek road looking for a good place to head into the forest. We were wanting to get on the eastern ridge and follow its crest up to an alpine lake (from there, gaining a col and summiting JD via its northern ridge). A rough road heading into the forst right before the campground kiosk looked like a good bet, so we followed that. That path pretty much ended at some works in a small stream - looks like Park staff are in the process of installing a water collection and pipe - perhaps to pipe running water down to the campground?

We crossed the stream and encountered a nasty rabbit thicket. Little white snowshoe hares ran to and fro, and my leg disappeared down rabbit holes every once in a while. It was rough going, and we made a b-line towards the forest we could see on our left.

This was a mistake - we should have gone right, as that was what would have taken us to our ridge. We realized this looking at our GPSs, but figured we'd be able to ascent the little creek valley to climbers left of the ridge. We were to the left of the creek, so we found a good game trail through the forest and followed that as it dropped down towards the creek.

Luke:


Nicole:



Google Earth 3d - ascent route DO NOT GO THIS WAY:


Down at the creek we hit a tangle of what I think were willow bushes. 3 of us crossed the creek and tried the other side. (It was bluffy and impossible to get on our intended ridge directly, so we were trying to follow the creek and see what it looked like further up.) The other 3 stayed on creek left and found some scree slopes that afforded much better travel, so the 3 from creek right recrossed the creek and followed them.

Now then, as I said at the outset, do not do what we did. We got bushed out on creek left so crossed and tried it on the right. Got bushed out there and recrossed again to try creek left. One of the easier spots:




When things opened up a bit, we could see somewhat open and scree slopes further up the valley, so we thought we would be safe once we hit that.

I finally had enough and, trusting the waterproofing of my boots, said the hell of it and just went straight up the creek. This turned out to be the best line, as both sides were too bushy and everyone else followed me.

Limited options going up:



We were able to make decent progress here, and after a while we were able to climb out of the creek onto a scree slope in the sun for a break:


Great weather and nice views to the valley below:



Continuing on from here things only got worse. What we thought might have been a meadowy slope from down below turned out to be the worst alder/willow bushwach I have ever seen. Incredibly thick and made very difficult by our packs (containing snowshoes, ice axe and crampons, as we were anticipating snow in the alpine). Our progress slowed to ~2 hours/km as we veggie belayed,tripped and got stuck in our way through that mess. On occasion we would find ourselves on a small scree slope, only to have to plunge back into a thicket on the other side.

Time ticked by, and we finally got ourselves onto an extended open area and made for the creek (assuming we could escape the bushwack by going straight up the creek, like we had done below). As it turned out, the creek was much too steep this high up, there were no rocks to really rock-hop, and what rocks there were were a little icy.

It had taken us about 5 hours to get to this spot. We had only gone a few km. We had ~5 hours of daylight left. It was going to be a good 3 hours more to get close to the summit. We weren't adverse to hiking by headlamp, but none of us wanted to bushwack by headlamp through unknown terrain (there was no way we were going back through what we had come up - we were going to gain the ridge and follow the crest back to the road, but didn't know what microterrain we would come across). A collective decision was made to bail. Looking at the GPS, we weren't even close - not even to the alpine lake.

The bushwack up the other side of the valley was just as bad, but we were close to the trees and, we assumed, a less dense understory. Climbing out of the bush into that (our nasty bushwack evident in the distance):





Google Earth 3d - descent route PREFERRED ASCENT ROUTE


The going was much better here as we gained some more elevation to get on the ridge. We came aross a nice open sunny slope, and we stoped for an extended rest:


We had views of Mt. John Decker up the valley, and we realized how far we really were from the alpine and the summit:



Rested up, we set off/down. We encountered a stretch with some nasty blowdown, but going up/over that wasn't nearly as bad as the bushwach. Once through that bit we were in a beautiful forest on the ridgecrest - nice and open and easy travel. Definitely the preferred ascent route to JD. We followed whatever line looked best, trending towards descenders left just because the terrain there was a bit more open and avoided some bush. There were game trails here and there, but we generally made our own path. Some evidence of animals, including a bear with an upset stomach and a skull of something long dead:



The terrain flattened out as we were coming off the ridge, and we enjoyed an nice ramble through the lower forest before being deposited back on the Blackwater Creek FSR. I have our track and waypoint for where we rejoined the road if anyone is contemplating JD and wants to follow the right path up.

Video - easy streamlet crossing:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/realaworld/5152989045/


Not too long of a day in terms of time, certainly a short distance, still over 1000m elevation gain, far short of our objective, but still tonnes of fun in a peverse kind of way

-Ryan


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post #2 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 10:27 AM
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Looks like a fun trip nevertheless. Nice shots up the slope, and a great view of the valley.


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post #3 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 10:44 AM
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Brutal looking bushwack, good effort.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 10:51 AM
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Yep, character building eh?
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 11:09 AM
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That looks like a solid day.

On a second attempt would you:
A) Go up the way you came down?
B) Try a completely different route? Possibly gaining a ridge from the logging roads to the east as shown in the image below?

NOTE: THIS IMAGE DEPICTS A COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL TRIP. IT IS NOT BASED ON GPS TRACKS. I HAVEN'T DONE THIS AND HAVE NO IDEA IF IT IS POSSIBLE.


If you are recruiting for a future attempt, let me know.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Steventy

That looks like a solid day.

On a second attempt would you:
A) Go up the way you came down?
B) Try a completely different route? Possibly gaining a ridge from the logging roads to the east as shown in the image below?

NOTE: THIS IMAGE DEPICTS A COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL TRIP. IT IS NOT BASED ON GPS TRACKS. I HAVEN'T DONE THIS AND HAVE NO IDEA IF IT IS POSSIBLE.


If you are recruiting for a future attempt, let me know.
The proper route is to go up the way we came down. I didn't get a chance to eyeball your hypothetical route, but I think that it would be too cliffy (lots of ups and downs) and much too long/roundabout.

Mick - I didn't even take any pics of the worst part :P

-Ryan
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 11:23 AM
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Thanks for the great trip report Ryan. It actually was a fun day, but definitely wouldn't want to do it again. Those guys who bailed out due to impending bad weather really missed out, eh? I'm looking forward to making it up into the alpine next time, and hopefully the peak, using the route we came down.

Thanks for an enjoyable outing to everyone who came along. Great to meet you guys. I'll be sure to post some more pictures later on this evening when I have more time.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 12:59 PM
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A brave attempt.
Thx for letting me have another chance for joining you on this one in future.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 01:56 PM
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I have to say...nice weather.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Steventy

That looks like a solid day.

On a second attempt would you:
A) Go up the way you came down?
B) Try a completely different route? Possibly gaining a ridge from the logging roads to the east as shown in the image below?

NOTE: THIS IMAGE DEPICTS A COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL TRIP. IT IS NOT BASED ON GPS TRACKS. I HAVEN'T DONE THIS AND HAVE NO IDEA IF IT IS POSSIBLE.


If you are recruiting for a future attempt, let me know.
A few VOC folks attempted your "hypothetical route" in January last year on skis (more or less). They made it to just below the summit but turned back at a very exposed section. They said they hit alpine 30 minute past the end of the road. I think this is the way to go since you start high (1100m+) and most of the route is in the alpine where the navigation and traveling is easy.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 02:42 PM
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Please tell me you took that skull with you and have plans to use it as an intimidation technique in the courtroom.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Ryan.in.yaletown


Mick - I didn't even take any pics of the worst part :P

-Ryan
I had a quick look at this route once when I was up that way with the family and quickly concluded it would require way more time than I had that day[B)]
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Ryan.in.yaletown
Google Earth 3d:
Did you figure out the difference in colour between alder and dense bush vs. mature forest on google satellite images after this trip??
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 08:19 PM
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Great trip report and I am glad you had good weather. Your descent route was close to the way we ascended last April.

The hypothetical route which was actually done by the VOC would be a really scenic route. If there was going to be trail breaking in powder snow though, it might be faster to take the more direct (your descent) route.

This mountain has cost me a camera, a $200.00+ ticket (see previous clubtread report) and I am blaming it for the flu I came down with on the weekend (mental stress of attempting it again). If it doesn't get done this winter I will definitely put it on the club schedules in May.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 09:38 PM
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Here are a few more photos. Also thought I'd mention how beautiful the forest was here. All kinds of fungi everywhere in the old growth.
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