The plan was to circumnavigate Garibaldi Lake clockwise over four days. This would leave plenty of extra time for the necessary peak bagging. I ended up finishing the trip in three days.
I set out solo from Rubble Creek at 6AM on Friday, avoiding the long weekend crowds. After a quick slog up the road I went directly to Taylor Meadows. The first objective was the tusk, so I stashed some gear at the junction and headed up. I found the scramble quite easy but I was glad nobody was climbing above me. I reached the tourist summit by 10AM and had it all to myself.
View from the Black Tusk
I quickly descended back to the junction, grabbed my stashed gear and set off for Panorama, which I reached by 12:30. Without stopping I descended to the Panorama-Gentian col.
Great boot-skiing descending Panorama
At the Panorama-Gentian col there is a fantastic tarn where I took a 30 min break.
Tarn at Panorama-Gentian col
I then scrambled directly up the Northwest ridge of Gentian Peak, which was a bit loose and steep but not difficult.
Route to Gentian Peak is ridge at right of shot. Ice is easily avoided (not shown).
The Helm Glacier is almost completely bare
View of Castle Towers from Gentian Peak
I scrambled down to the low point of Gentian Ridge and set up camp. It was 3PM. There was plenty of water available on the ridge. The horseflies were horrible and forced me into my tent, which was almost unbearably hot, but still preferable to the horseflies. I managed a 30min nap anyway.
Camp on Gentian Ridge
At 4:30PM I set off for Helm peak. I hiked over Fuscian and reached the summit of Helm at 5:45. The ridge to Helm is enjoyable, easy rambling. The final scramble up the horn was a short, moderate scramble on loose rock. On the return I saved some effort by bypassing Fuscian via the easy west slopes.
View South from Helm
The sunset was phenomenal, with the sun setting over the tusk and a plume of smoke from I believe the Elaho fire visible blowing Northeast. Overnight it got quite cold, and in the morning I was surprised to find a layer of ice over the melt pond beside my tent.
Sunset from Gentian Ridge
In the morning I decided couldn't leave with bagging Corrie Peak as well, so I set out along the ridge again, leaving my tent pitched. This was an easy ridge hike with more fantastic views. I reached the summit in under an hour from camp.
Summit of Corrie Peak with Castle Towers behind
I returned and broke camp, and began the descent to Gentian Pass, reaching the lake by 10AM.
Castle Towers and Gentian Pass
The main objective for the day was Castle Towers, so I stashed non-essential gear and began the slog up Polemonium Ridge. I followed the route described by Matt Gunn and found it mostly straightforward. The decent down the gully from Polemonium Ridge was loose and unpleasant. Almost all of the snow was easily avoidable, and the short section I crossed was easily ascended with only poles. I reached the West Summit at 12:45, took a look at the true summit, and went no further. I found a large PVC summit register with orange caps on the ends, but one of the caps was broken open and it was empty save for a rusty tin can.
Garibaldi Lake from Castle Towers West summit
Castle Towers true summit from West summit
Broken summit register on Castle Towers West summit
Garibaldi from Castle Towers West
I quickly descended from the summit, taking advantage of the remaining snow patches. I was back at Gentian Lake at 14:50, just under five hours after I’d left. Next was the descent through the forest to the Burton hut. I wasn’t looking forward to this part, but in the end I found a pretty good route and didn’t find it too bad. I first hiked the obvious route South through beautiful meadows, following the Gentian Lake drainage. When the creek turned West, I veered away, holding my elevation at 1800m. I traversed through some unpleasant bushy forest, resisting the urge to descend as much as possible, and shortly came out onto a wide boulder field. I think it would be possible to avoid this stretch of bush-wacking by climbing maybe 60m up and over it, but I couldn’t be bothered.
Boulder field I crossed before descending to the Burton Hut
I traversed the boulders until I reached the forest, at around 1775m.
I entered the forest somewhere on the left side of this shot
From photos I’d seen from the Burton hut and from the google satellite view, I was looking to enter at small boulder field which I hoped would provide an easier descent than seyboyle had described in his report. Miraculously I found it very quickly, and though the rocks were a bit loose it was much better than bush and deadfall. The boulder field soon ended, but from the bottom I could see another one off to my right, so headed over to that and continued down. Again that one ended, and again there was another, this time on my left. By the time I had gotten to the bottom of that boulder field, I was almost at 1600m, with 100m left to descend. Initially the forest was steep and open, and I descended very quickly. Near the bottom there was plenty of deadfall, and I avoided the worst of it by traversing to my right a bit.
Google Earth view of my route down to the Burton Hut
At 4:30PM I reached the hut, where I planned on staying the night. This was about 80min after leaving Gentian Lake. A friendly couple was there when I arrived, having paddled over in pack rafts. They offered beer, pretzels, tea and a ferry over the creek the next morning. Thanks! I ended up pitching my tent beside the hut, since it was way too hot inside. Just before heading to bed, two hikers arrived who were also circumnavigating the lake.
I left the hut at 7AM and began climbing to the Guard-Deception col. I stayed high and west, following a ramp below Guard that paralleled the glacier, until it joined the glacier bowl at around 1800m. I crossed a couple small, low-angle snow patches above the glacier and gained the ridge at 8:50AM and around 2000m, about 40m above the col. The last section below the ridge was unpleasant steep and unstable rock/dirt, but other than this last section, the route was much easier than expected.
Route to the Guard-Deception col
I dropped to the col, stashed some gear, and headed up to Deception Peak, which was an easy scramble. I reached the top of one of the Deception spires, with fantastic views of Garibaldi. I’m not sure if this was the true summit or not. There was another spire 20m or so to the East which appeared to be the same height. I didn't get a good photo of it. It looked like an unpleasant scramble on poor rock, so I didn’t attempt it.
Fantastic view of Garibaldi from Deception Peak
I retrieved my gear from the col and descended easily to the Sentinel Bay huts, which I reached at 11:30AM. I signed the logbook and took a short nap. When I awoke, Alexcanuck was arriving. Alex tells me about a secret beach with rock-furniture, then heads off to collect some glacial ice so he can preserve his fish. I head out, on the way meeting the couple from the Burton hut again, who had paddled over to check out the huts. I headed towards Garibaldi lake a short distance, then begin climbing a steep slope towards the meadows North of Table SE1. This slope was pretty steep but I didn't have much difficulty. Heading directly South from the huts looked a bit less steep, although longer and looser scree.
I reached the meadows North of Table SE1 at 2PM and contemplated camping there and doing a couple more side trips - the West Pike and Table SE1. Eventually my craving for fast food won and I decide to make the push back to my vehicle. I followed the ridge Northwest, climbing towards the East side of the Table. I reach the high point of the ridge directly East of the table, then boot-skied some scree towards Table Meadows.
I wandered through pleasant meadows and forest until reaching an interesting feature at the base of Mount Price. It is a small elongated depression with a flat grassy bottom, leading directly to Price’s South slopes. Here I met a party of four resting in the grass. They had just descended from Price and were on were intending to camp in the meadows and head to their vehicle on Brohm Ridge. They provided me with some helpful route info for the climb to Price.
At 4:50PM I reach the crater of Mount Price, sweaty and exhausted after steaming up lava-talus, then steep dirt, then large lava-boulders in the hot sun. I had climbed directly towards Mount Price, always staying on climber’s right of the burnt timber. I reach the summit of Price, elated to have finished all the uphill for the trip, and having completed five Matt Gunn scrambles. From here on I’m on established trail. I power walk the rest of way, hardly stopping and passing countless hikers once I pass the crowded campsite, reaching my vehicle at 18:50. I chugged the coke I had left, which was fantastic but I should have brought chips and a beer.
Distance: 79km (31.5-17.5-30 days 1-2-3)
Elevation Gain: 5700m (2650-1450-1600 days 1-2-3)
Google Earth view of my route. Day 1 in blue, day 2 in red, day 3 in pink.
Absolutely phenomenal trip.