On Sunday, NS Explorer and I hiked the Goat Ridge - the one starting at Petgill Lake, not the one off Grouse.
Google Earth birdseye:
Google Earth 3d:
We went up via Petgill Lake rather than the mountain/dirt bike trails off the Britannia logging roads, so parted in the Murrin parking lot and set off.
Google Earth 3d - Petgill:
The standard trail to Petgill is well described on here, so no need to get into any details. As mentioned before, once you are on the section of old logging road, the forest has been extensively flagged and spray painted for future logging and cut blocks. I'm actually surprised they haven't started, considering the amount of marking that has taken place.
If you've done this trail before, you will recall the stretch nearing Petgill Lake after you've gone up and over the bit of a bluff, contoured to the right of the base of a cliff and then followed a small streamlet through a little gap, before swinging to your left for the final approach to the lake. Unfortunately, right after that little gap, and where you swing to your left, there is a new clutblock - right up to and even including the trail:
I'm a little disappointed they didn't set it back a bit from the trail. That area was always one of my favourite bits of the hike giving the terrain, and now it's trashed
The trail to Goat Ridge leave the Petgill Lake trail about a minute before the Lake; since NS Explorer had never been to Petgill before, we went the extra bit and had a food break on the bluffs.
Inquisitive Squirrel is inquisitive:
Google Earth 3d - Goat climb:
We backtracked down the trail, hopped over the inlet stream, and started up Goat:
Quickly we came across a bluff viewpoint looking back over the Lake from the other side. It would be a great place to watch the sunset up there:
I was pleasantly surprised about the quality of the trail. Decent footbed and enough flagging that it was easy to follow even if you weren't paying that much attention. Steep in parts, for sure. In a way it reminded me of a combination of the terrain around Chief 3rd peak and Weedwacker's Hat Mountain Trail - bluffs and benches. Lots of birds singing, which was quite nice.
We hit constant snow about ~1200m or so. At that point, it was a bit harder than I was expecting - crampons certainly not needed (still very kickstepable), but was very glad I had my ice axe. In the transition zone there were a few tricky spots, but we were able to get up and over everything with minimal trouble and occasional veggie belays.
One rope on a tricky spot:
Google Earth 3d - Goat Ridge:
We finally gained the ridge and got into the subalpine area. Stopped on an obvious bluff looking out over the Sound to rest and take in the views.
Squamish and the Chief:
Zoom on Squamish:
We put our snowshoes on here (more to justify having brought them), but then almost immediately took them off again to get up a steep part. We ultimately ditched them a little further up the ridge since the snow was solid enough that we didn't need them (top ~3" were isothermal much, rest was quite supportive).
That bloody ridge felt neverending. Lots of little ups and downs too that zapped your energy. In terms of route, we started off following the flagging, but soon enough just started picking our own route and generally staying near the ridge crest. Lots of clouds, which partly obscured the nice views, but made for pleasant and not too hot going.
There are lots of tarns/ponds, all of which were still quite snow covered. One very interesting one seemed to have a water runnel tunnel feeding into it - never seen that before:
Howe Sound from the Ridge:
NS Explorer follows the Ridge:
Still more Ridge to go:
We came across fresh (that morning) bear tracks, heading from our left (Habrich) to our right (Britannia). Pretty small (photo lighting heavily edited to bring out contrast):
Not too much longer, we came across another slightly older (day before?) smaller (cub just kicked out by mommy?) set of bear tracks going the opposite direction.
BCLS survey marker on bump near the high point:
Finally, after 7 hours, we reached the far end of the Ridge, which is the high point and cairned.
Sky Pilot group peeking out:
Mountain Lake Hut area:
Anyone skied this yet?
We headed back. A few nice buttslides where we could cut a switchback along the Ridge or otherwise go straight down. The sun came out more and gave us nice views:
And nice clouds:
The way down off the Ridge wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be - the poles certainly saves my knees, and would be very highly recommended for anyone wanting to do this one. (Ditto with an ice axe for this time of year. Snowshoes can probably be skipped.) Almost 2100m cumulative, so be warned.
Back on the main Petgill Lake trail we confused a few hikers with the snowshoes on our packs, and made our way back out to the car. Nice to knock this one off, since I've been eying it for a while.