A couple of years ago I went up logging roads west of North Creek (Upper Lillooet River area) and checked out Hemionus Mountain. Beyond that peak some other peaks looked interesting so they were put on the list.
Logging was going on up there at that time (I went in on a Sunday) and may still be going on now so I suggested to Vlad (culater) that we head on up on Canada Day just in case. Sure enough, when we got to the North Creek FSR turn off the "Active Logging" sign was still there. We also got a flat tire on Lillooet River Road shortly before the turnoff.
North Creek FSR was 2wd with some rutting and sure enough further up it new spurs branched off but the older road had been fixed up to around km8 (various heavy machinery and a field ambulance were passed). Taking the old road at a junction we bash through some alder and waterbars to park at around the same spot as before (around 8.8 km and 1275m elevation).
Walking up the rest of the overgrown road we soon reach the highest cutblock which is pretty bushy now, hike through that and reach mature forest. Snow is long gone from this area but the underbrush isn't too bad as we ascend steepish terrain trending left to gain the southeast ridge of Hemionus around 1650m.
Some open areas and some bushy areas as we follow the ridge upwards with the terrain starting to open up and small sections of snow appearing. Within an hour and a half of leaving the vehicle we're into the alpine and the views are starting to open up. Mosquitoes and horseflies had been with us since we started.
Wide open ridge walk.
Vlad, flowers and a backdrop of Overseer, Spidery and Pika area.
We crest the first bump on the ridge and spot a couple of small deer. We didn't have time to get a good shot of them before they ran off down the other side. We hastened upwards to the top but they had disappeared somewhere. I dropped down slightly for a better view but no luck. Then we heard a noise and another fawn appeared on the other side of the slope just south of us.
Cute little fellow.
He/she seemed to find Vlad intriguing as he/she stared at him then started trotting across the snow towards him.
On the move.
He/she ran right up to Vlad still bleating until Vlad waved his arms to scare him/her away incase there were any protective parents around.
The fawn gets the message.
This was a cool encounter as Odocoileus Hemionus is a type of deer and this could be the Columbian Black Tailed kind and we're on Hemionus Mountain. I was wearing a red shirt which attracted a few humming birds as we ascended the ridge and marmots and pikas were spotted too. Plus there were many different types of insects and spiders crawling around on the snow covered sections.
Continuing on we go over a minor bump then lose some elevation before regaining it and more to a higher knoll and our first view of the mountain. A strong enough breeze was around now to push away the mosquitoes with the horseflies mostly buzzing off too.
Hemionus Mountain. We won't try to take the ridge like I did last time but will drop down into the bowl on the other side of the big rock centre of shot.
Steep section drop down into the bowl.
We side-hilled for a while below some collapsed cornices from the ridge above then ascended a minor arête to reach the ridge again before the scramble to the summit.
Ascending the minor arête with the bowl below right and Mount Sampson area rear left.
A little bit of class 3 scrambling from here got us onto easier terrain and then the peak (2285m). A lot less snow around on the travel to get here than 2 years and a week previous. We could get a good view of the route ahead towards Spindrift Mountain. The plan had been to reach that one and either try for Blockhead or Sugus. Sugus is the highest of them all but Blockhead (and Spindrift) is a cool name for a peak.
Sugus at right with Spindrift centre left. A subpeak of Spindrift at left is near the same height. Blockhead not quite visible.
NNE view to the North Creek headwaters with the Pebble area distant left, Thiassi way back centre and Sessel prominent to the right.
We backtracked slightly then dropped down onto some snow slopes then rock and flora to a col with a 2200m bump to the west.
Nearing the col. We'd then side-hill the south (left) side of this dropping down to a 2015m pass before starting up again.
A zoom on Thiassi and some dirty snow before we start the side-hilling.
The traverse went okay with some steep/loose terrain here and there and a couple of minor gullies to cross. Big boulders were hopped to reach the pass.
Past the traverse and boulders. Hemionus behind.
And a look at the route ahead. Spindrift at right - doesn't look too easy to reach from this angle.
We ascend snowslopes to reach a divide which where we were had a big drop off. Scrambling down some rocks there are big cliffbands blocking the way to Spindrift. Blockhead is now in view and by crossing the upper section of an icefield we should be able to gain it's southeast ridge.
Blockhead Mountain with it's southeast ridge at right. Upper Lillooet River Valley at left.
Crossing the icefield we follow a finger of snow then rocks up to the ridge where we walk along the edge of another icefield then gain some rock near a small tarn. A large bee seemed to be having a hard time on the snow so I scooped him up with my glove and transported him with me to the rocks where I set him down to warm up whilst Vlad poured out a bit of Gatorade just in case he was a little thirsty (or low on sugar).
The bee stretching out his legs.
Nice view of Capricorn, Meager and Plinth seen whilst crossing the icefield.
The tarn and the route up Blockhead.
It was an easy hike up to the peak and some pretty good views even with the cloud around and a distant haze in the air. Some unfamiliar mountains to gaze at as this was a mostly new area for the both of us.
An idea of the terrain leading up to the summit (note that the wind is blowing out Vlad's pants - he hasn't gained a bunch of weight).
1. Mount Athelstan dominates the view to the north.
2. Broader northern view with Athelstan at left with peaks of the Guthrum, Icemaker and Iceward area leading to the right. Ethelweard barely visibly too.
3. The Meager and Plinth area to the west.
2430m BLOCKHEAD summit shot.
Close up of the western side of Meager that shows the extent of the slide that flowed down it's flanks to dam up Meager Creek resulting in the later flooding of the Lillooet River Valley (few years back).
Vlad started to head down whilst I grabbed a few more pictures then followed.
Looking up the Upper Lillooet Valley which goes left. The continuation is the Salal Creek area. Meager and Plinth at left, Athelstan right and the Lillooet Icefield in the distance.
A view down the ridge we ascended/descended. Spindrift at left. No easy way up it from this angle either.
Spindrift SW2 with the Overseer area rear right. Backroad Mapbooks has this peak labelled as Blockhead.
Heading down towards the small tarn there was a loud rumbling noise and we watched as a cornice collapsed and snow cascaded down the steep cliffs of Spindrift SW2.
Spindrift. Still not sure if we can get up this one. There were cornices (and a few crevases) at left, a notch at right looked sketchy and plenty of cliffs in between.
Meeting back up with Vlad as we traversed back under the cliffs of the western side of Spindrift I suggest we try the snow slope leading up to the notch. Vlad said the notch didn't look good to get out of from either side we'd viewed it from but that he had seen a possible route earlier on up the southern side to gain a minor depression just west of the summit and east of the notch.
I hadn't been paying too much attention back then and argued that the notch might work, especially as when we came around to the other side of it things still looked possible to me. He wouldn't go for it and said if we traverse some steep snow slopes for a while we can reach the spot he liked (or we could drop down into the bowl and take the longer but easier straight up approach from there). I've hiked with Vlad many times and his judgement is pretty sound and he was probably thinking I was being a bit of a blockhead by now and from what I could see of his route - yeah, it did look all right.
We did more traversing under cliffbands with the snow slope angle increasing (crampons would have helped) and I went for one short slide. Getting to the open gully I go up the snow to gain rocks where a creek is gushing down then clamber up next to it to reach flatter terrain.
Next to the creek and looking down to Vlad. We came around the cliff bands at right.
We're soon on the summit ridge and then the peak which didn't have a cairn so I built one. Not bad views from up here either.
Sugus Mountain at right. It's a high ridge walk from here but we're out of time for this day trip.
2390m summit shot. Blockhead right behind us.
Looking at the time we soon headed out as it would be nice to be back at the cutblock before sundown. Dropping down the open gully we continued downward from there with some nice boot skiing to reach the bowl, crossed that then ascended a bit to the ridge, dropped a little from there to the big boulders then started the side-hilling back around the 2200m bump.
Past that it was a trudge back up to near the summit of Hemionus and a quick rest before the drop down to the bowl on the other side. Time is looking good now too.
The route back (below the ridgeline).
Upper North Creek area.
Crossing the bowl east of Hemionus we see a that part of the cornice on the ridge above had collapsed between our passing by earlier in the day.
Regaining the ridge we pause again briefly with just a couple more minor ups before everything becomes downhill.
One last shot of Hemionus with some dark clouds above.
Panorama from the Sugarloaf to Overseer areas.
The 2 minor bumps soon go by then we start down the flowered slopes and meadow areas back to the increasing forested ridge.
Looking down the Lillooet River (very brown) Valley towards Pemberton. Upper road we walked visible with our ridge at left. Handcar and Goat distant left. Sugarloaf and Morrison distant right.
I'd taken a waypoint of where we gained the ridge but we veered off a little before getting there to follow a angled minor gully downwards for a while. Many pesky black flies had latched on to us a little while back and they really enjoyed buzzing and crawling around our heads. As we crashed down through the bush and forest I wished the bush was a bit more dense to help with keeping them off us.
We hit the cut block a little west of our uptrack. Went down through it to the road and were soon back at the vehicle. Some bug spray was applied there which did the trick so we relaxed for a short while and I had a well earned beer. Cumulative elevation was around 2300m with a trip time of just over 11 hours and the late evening drive home was a relaxed affair.
Map of route.