Elsay Lake in November - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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Default Elsay Lake in November


Author`s note: This is a fantastic trail in the summer that is already challenging in good conditions. The following trip report might make this hike look easy in fall/winter conditions but it is not, we knew what to expect and had brought additional gear for the unexpected.
In the wrong conditions, you could easily slip and die, get buried in an avalanche while crossing the boulder field, get lost and freeze to death or get stuck in the mountain out of exhaustion.
I do not recommend this trail when there is snow on the mountain.

Video--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-OlIApTix8

Another Trip report regarding this hike would not be the most interesting story this year. However, the conditions and the time of the year makes it worth it to write a few lines regarding a long day pass the middle of November.

Spring, Leigh and myself drove to Mt Seymour early Saturday morning as the sun was rising in a cloudless sky. As any other trip, we had our 10 min gear preparation session and were on to our 20 km round trip adventure.

The great feature of this time of the year is the compact snow on the ski slopes and the fact that downhill skiers are not yet invited to enjoy the mountain. This allows a very fast access (35 min) to Brockton point.

At the top of the ski resort, we enjoyed gorgeous winter views (yes winter) of the city and north shores. We then had a very enjoyable easy hike all the way to the intersection between Mount Seymour and Elsay Lake.

Unsurprisingly, plenty of tracks towards Seymour and a virgin snow towards the downhill leading to Elsay lake. At this point we had not used our snowshoes, actually, this was a snowshoe free day!

We descended towards the boulder fields, the snow was light and powdery but there was a crusty and slippery layer just under it. We had ice axes which added some security to our travel. Not necessary but well appreciated.

The decent of the first boulder field was quick because of the large amount of snow and the steepness. However, the second one was a real pain as there was less snow and involved a long traverse. Once back into the forest, it was a cold hike all the way down to the bottom of Elsay. This involved a first easy creek crossing. The trail was well marked and I had already done Mt Elsay so routefinding was easy.

I got a bit confused after the intersection of the Mt Elsay trail, but nothing that made us loose more than 2 minutes. When we made it to the 3 km marker, we got a bit nervous as it was already pass 11:00 AM. However, I kept telling Leigh and Spring it was going to be very easy from there….

Well, not that easy, there were another 2 boulder fields to go through which were not cool… And we kept losing altitude.. We finally made it to the north of Elsay and it got fun from there as the trail was really easy and there was only a small amount of snow.

The only tough part of this section is a creek crossing (Elsay creek?) which is fairly wide and can be deep (knee high). The trail crossing was really icy and seemed difficult. We decided to go upstream and found an easier section. The broken branches on the other side proved to us that we had not been the only ones with this itinerary.

Once on the other side, it was a highway to the hut. We rushed (probably because of the cold) to the hut and enjoyed the view of the frozen (very fragile Ice) of the lake and the fantastic North face of Elsay.

The hut is in a great shape and looks very inviting for the summer. However, being on the north of such a steep mountain, I doubt that the lake gets ever direct sun light and must remain cold all year.

It had taken us roughly 5 hours to get to the hut, we thought it would take us much more to come back. I warmed up my water and had some tealess tea. We retraced our steps about 45 min after our successful landing at the Elsay lake hut.

Although we were expecting a dreadful return back to the car (much higher than the hut), it turned out to be for all 3 of us a pleasant return. The trail was well tracked by our footsteps and we were in a hurry to get back to the car since it was so cold…

Even the boulder field and the steepness did not stop us or demotivate us. However we were very happy once we were back on the skiers track as we knew it would just be a hop back to the car.

We finally made it back in the dark to the car just before 6. It had taken us only 4 hours back from the hut, not bad with these semi-wintery conditions.
Leigh and Spring kindly drove me back home although it was way out of their way… And I took my well deserved shower..I had hiked the Elsay Lake trail on a 19th of November.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 07:46 PM
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Delicious tealess tea. Mm.

Great day for it.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 07:50 PM
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Adrien

Cool, enjoyable and appreciated report. I often thought of doing Elsay, as I have never been there as yet.

K
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 08:19 PM
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Sounds like you guys had a good day out although it does looks cold back there. Well written TR as always
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 09:45 PM
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We might of just missed you bunch at the parking lot. Went for a little ski starting around 8:30...
Thanks for sharing your trip.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 10:36 PM
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Great video Adrien.

I don't know but did Adrien happen to mention it was cold, lol. It looked warm up on the mountain but down in the trees in the shade it was icy.

This was a real bizarro hike. We started close to the summit and had the downhill hike back into the trees. Then we started the grueling hike back to the top on the return.

The hike downhill, as Adrien mentioned, was actually harder. The boulder fields where just covered enough so that we couldn't tell where the rocks where, but not covered enough to stop us punching through in the gaps between them. On the return we blitzed through the boulder fields as we now had the broken and tested path we'd navigated on the way in. Even though it was all uphill the return trip was more enjoyable.

Anyway, here are the rest of my photos:



1. Close to Brockton Point
2. 870m's to First Peak on the boot packed trail, or 8000m's to the Elsay Lake Shelter via an unbroken trail. Shelter it is. I'd also concur with the warning at the bottom.
3. Spring cold but ready to get moving
4. Adrien: "Yeah guys, it's an easy lake hike, MoooWAHahaha"



1. Wrong way but still a nice lookout. Weird to start the hike with the views then lose them more and more as the hike goes on. So bizarre.
2. Traversing one of those gnarly boulder fields just after the descent of "Wes's Staircase" (I knew I'd enjoy coming back up that on the way back)
3. Ah, so these are why it's recommended to not hike to the lake in winter.
4. Layer up, layer down... rinse repeat. Winter hiking



1. Layering up at the shelter. I'm pretty sure SAR would be able to spot me.
2. At the shelter. Nicer than expected. I may spend a night here in the future.
3. Crossing Elsay creek on the way out
4. Traversing back across the slide paths on the way out using our broken trail



1. Coming up on Wes's staircase, we lost pretty much all our daylight shortly after this and donned our headlamps
2. Nearing the Seymour parking lot
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 08:52 AM
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Nice one, a lot different than Sept, but look @all the escorts you missed out on!
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 08:55 AM
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The above need our video to make sense, LOL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f260KGMvOkY
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 09:12 AM
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Great trip report Adrien! Not sure if it has been mentioned yet but man was it cold[] , you stop for one minute and it took another 30 for the burning in your fingers to subside. Strange how even when your fingers are burning cold, you are so parched but so determined to get there that you rarely stop to get a drink and just altogether frustrated and tired from postholing down to your hips...the day is still considered a smashing success. I would do it all over again!!
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 09:50 AM
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Brrrr! Nice HDR of the Elsays Leigh.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 10:50 AM
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Elsay lake is no piece of cake, a definite effort to undertake, even in the spring/summer.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by nickl

The above need our video to make sense, LOL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f260KGMvOkY
Yeah there is a very small window in the year where you are either being bitten by bugs or bitten by the cold.

I prefer the cold tbh, at least you can make it go away quickly with a nice cup of hot chocolate between your hands.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 11-24-2011, 11:22 PM
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This is what it looks like in summer.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 12:08 AM
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In the wrong conditions, you could easily slip and die, get buried in an avalanche while crossing the boulder field, get lost and freeze to death or get stuck in the mountain out of exhaustion.

Is this real?
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by gatier

In the wrong conditions, you could easily slip and die, get buried in an avalanche while crossing the boulder field, get lost and freeze to death or get stuck in the mountain out of exhaustion.

Is this real?
See if you can read the bottom part of the trail notice in this picture I posted above.



It isn't some insane route out of the Karakoram, but it is decidedly more difficult than it's neighboring hike up to Seymour. You pass below quite a few avy paths and the trail, especially through the boulder fields in winter, is very easy to lose. Add to this that the majority of your elevation gain is on the return trip and it is a pretty difficult hike in winter.

If you have even a modicum of experience route finding without a trail or markers you should be fine, but always heed the avalanche warnings before heading out.
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