I wanted to finish up all the 2600m+ high peaks that ring the west and south sides of the Downton Creek drainage but I figured this one wouldn't take too long so I planned on a car camp high on the eastern side of Askom Mountain above the Fraser River with an attempt on that peak the next day. Things didn't go quite to plan though.
Downton Creek FSR is in good shape and I drove almost to the end, parking at the last spur on the mainline (above where Vlad and I parked last year when climbing Nraiteskel and some marmots chewed wiring on my vehicle). On the drive in a wolf was spotted running up the road. Since last year I've seen a cougar, deer, black bears and now a wolf whilst travelling into the valley.
I walked up the road a further 5 minutes then ascended next to and on the edge of the cutblock followed by some forest and within half an hour I was in the sub-alpine. Pleasant meadows for a short while as I near a upper tributary of Downton Creek.
The creek and a head on view of the eastern ridge of Downton Peak - my route.
A little bit of krummholz bashing to reach it and I start up the ridge which is a mixture of scree, heather, talus and some bedrock. Mostly talus though and in some places a mountain goat track is visible. A couple of snow sections showed their recent tracks too.
Mostly staying on the ridge crest or nearby I steadily gain elevation to near the high point in the picture above. That's not the summit, it's a short distance beyond across some snow and I soon reach it and the large summit cairn. A cooling breeze too was welcomed as it was pretty hot out. Good views in all directions with barely a cloud in the sky. Butterflies and a few other insects kept me company during my hour long stay.
Zooming westward across the Upper Lost Valley towards Haylmore Peak with Birkenhead behind left.
Looking east at Melvin, Melvin SW2 and Mount Luke. Brew, Towinock, Molybdenite, Boulder and Russell some of the peaks in the distance.
View down at the two lakes and Downton Creek headwaters. Found (just out of picture left), Lost and Tenor above. Seton rear distant right.
Melvin Creek Valley beyond the ridgeline and a view to many peaks (Boulder to Eyeore) on the other side of Duffey Lake Road.
2626m summit shot and a view back down Downton Creek Valley with the Seton area rear left and Melvin at right.
Mount Nraiteskel is just northwest of me. Haylmore and upper Lost Valley at left.
A zoom on Melvin SW2 and Mount Luke. Unofficially named recently in memory of CT member TNJed who passed away from cancer.
Packing my gear up I re-cross the snow to get a view downwards where I can see my vehicle.
The lake below is surrounded by bush - a bit of a thrash when heading for Nraiteskel. Some Melvins above.
One last look at the summit area. Joffre Group at rear.
Idea of the upper slopes of the peak. Nothing technical but some talus will move about if stepped on.
The descent went well and I cut off the bottom krummholz section by boot skiing down some snow to outflank it and get back to the meadows.
Downton Peak and Mount Nraiteskel from the meadows.
Soon I'm back in the forest then dodging deadfall by the cutblock (faint trail in places) and down the road to my vehicle. Jumping in I drive down to the other parking place where a pond is, wading in and rinsing off before enjoying a beer. Even at this elevation the heat is almost intense so I pack up and drive back down with the A/C on.
Map of area.
I hadn't seen anybody else but back near the highway I stop to let someone cross the bridge and then carry on where another vehicle that I recognize is. It's Dru and the other car was driven by Doug. They were heading up towards Holly Lake (I think) to meet up with Eryne and Sarah.
Continuing on I drive into Lillooet, get some gas then turn down Texas Creek Road following that for about 30 km to Della Creek Road. Plenty of horse manure as I head upwards and I pass a few horses. Near km 10 is an open gate and just past that is a talus slide that's smoothed over (4x4 though). Just beyond is a rock slide which is a little tight but I get through okay and continue up with mild waterbars now present.
Getting pretty high up by now (1500m elevation) there are 2 more horses grazing by the road. After checking me out they gradually move over enough for me to get by and I continue on to around km 13 where an overgrown spur and my route to the alpine is.
Parking there I get out and wander a short way up the spur then come back down and think about setting up camp. Then I notice a liquid dripping from the front of my vehicle. I didn't have a good feeling and I hoped it was condensate from the A/C but a few drops on my hand confirmed my fears - it was engine coolant.
Popping the hood I take a look from the top then crawl underneath and it's leaking near the drain plug. That was tight and it seemed to be just under that at the base of the radiator. I've got 4 litres of spare water, no water sources up here and I don't want it to be drained out by the time I get back from my hike the next day (plus I need some of the water for cooking and drinking). I sit down and ponder a bit but decided it's probably best I try to get back to civilization.
Clopping of hooves interrupts my thoughts as the 2 horses show up. They seem friendly enough and they found my vehicle interesting.
Licking and gnawing the back window. I was hoping they didn't try to bite the rear wiper off.
Now I'm thinking that my vehicle left alone here could get vandalized by horses along with having an empty cooling system so I shooed them off but they didn't get the message too well and followed me around to the front of the car.
They're about to lick the hood too.
I was okay with that until they scratched the paint with their teeth so I shooed them off again, popped the hood back up, topped up the coolant reservoir then jumped in and started the drive back down (after scuffing over the coolant on the gravel).
Rock slide area at km 10.
Keeping a wary eye on the temperature gauge I get back to Spencer Road and top off the reservoir again then follow the gravel road southwards to the Lytton Ferry. Checking things there, the leak is a constant drip and I refill then drive onto the ferry. The Fraser River is running pretty fast and it seems surprising how the little boat can make it across.
Plenty of smoke in the sky now from the nearby forest fire as I stop at a pullout and top off again before the long drive down to Hope.
Cisco Road area forest fire.
Getting into Hope I check the reservoir and it's empty but the temperature gauge is staying steady so I top it off and head for home. Gas and another top up in Abbotsford and I roll into Vancouver at midnight after 750 km of driving for the day but I visited a nice peak and didn't get stranded.
Saturday morning and I refill again then drive to my vehicle dealer in Port Coquitlam where it won't be looked at until Monday then I bike back home with a stop off at Barnet Marine Park for a cooling down swim. For the next few days (at the most I hope) I'll be biking everywhere but at 200,000 km and some hard use I have to expect a few issues with my vehicle and Askom Mountain isn't going anywhere.