Vlad and I tossed around 4 different ideas - from Manning to The Duffey but settled on a Plan D close to Whistler based on snow conditions, less driving and the fact we had basically done sweet FA in long snowshoe trips the past 4 months (this would be the first time I used snowshoes this year).
I suggested Spectrum Peak, he tacked on Gin and off we went. The Rainbow Lake Trail is packed down and we didn't bother with the snowshoes until around 6km. After a quick break (featuring dive bombing grey jays) we soon left the trail and headed southward towards Gin and Tonic Lake.
Moe, Cook and Weart seen earlier in the day.
We went a bit high following a snowmobile track near the lake area. Dropping down we followed more tracks (snowmobile and ski) as well as making our own way up to the southern ridge of Gin. Gaining the ridge we see and hear a few sledders south of us. We reach the peak and take a rest as some leg muscles are protesting.
Well tracked area between Gin and Tonic with Castle Towers, Garibaldi and Black Tusk some of the peaks at rear.
1803m summit shot.
Zoom on Davidson and Castle Towers.
After 20 minutes of rest we looked for a good spot to drop steeply off the northwest side. High cloud had been with us most of the day with breaks of blue sky and plenty of sunshine.
Vlad and a sun dog.
A couple of sections looked questionable but after some scoping we found a good (one section was backed down with iceaxe by me and Vlad removed his snowshoes) route downwards before heading north to the divide between Hidden and Rainbow Lakes.
Spectrum on the left, Rainbow Mountain on the right.
The sledder tracks were all over the Hidden Lake area but none to close to Rainbow Lake and it's drainages (there were in some upper parts on the east side of Gin). We stayed on a minor ridge deciding to check out the south side of Spectrum as the topo map had decently spaced lines on it.
In real time though, the south side looked pretty steep and featured some cliff bands whilst the eastern side looked good from afar. We discussed things and chose to check out the south first on sun warmed snow that wasn't presenting any problems at the moment.
Looking back at Gin with our descent tracks at right.
Spectrum Peak approach. We're heading up to the notch upper left.
Sled tracks were used for the first part then it's a tiring ascent on soft snow. Things weren't looking too good for summit access. Vlad yelled up that something looked promising so he branched off whilst I went up to the ridgeline to find cliffing all around.
Just over a bit was a slim gully bisecting the cliffs that went to about 45 degrees. Happy with the snow conditions I traversed over to it and started up, kicking in good steps with the snowshoes and making good use of my axe. Nothing to scary but it was good to get out of there to reach a plateau. Across that there's a notch then a quick steep climb to the peak of 1817m.
The view southwards (with a touch of east).
Journeyman and Les Gendarmes at left, Ring, Hidden and Callaghan to the right.
Vlad rings me up and says his way didn't work and as he doesn't have an iceaxe he doesn't want to attempt the gully. My view down the eastern side looks good so I advise him to come up that way.
The top of the gully I came up.
Vlad coming up the east side.
Rhododendron and Ipsoot to the north.
Summit shot with Rainbow behind.
Vlad takes in the view.
After an hour (for me) at the top we both descend to the east then curve around south aiming for Rainbow Lake. No tracks on it where we were so we slogged across to meet up with some ski tracks and pick up the packed trail for the walk out.
Eastern side of Spectrum.
Spectrum Peak and Vlad.
Gin Peak and Vlad.
Rainbow Lake and Vlad. Spectrum Peak rear right.
Rainbow outflow area and me.
We're both feeling a little tired by now (and sunburned) as we follow the trail back down with snowshoes off for the last 4 km. Apart from a few bare (and some icy) spots at the beginning the trail is in good shape for snow travel.
Somehow Vlad got in front of me as I wandered along listening to some music waiting for him to catch up so I was a little surprised when he phoned me asking where I was as he was back at the vehicle. 5 minutes later I'm there too and 1 minute more finds me enjoying the post hike beer as dusk settles over the area.
11 hours round trip with about 25 km travelled on varying snow conditions, we were pretty beat. After spending most of the winter biking (and some small hikes) it was nice to get out into the mountains and get some rust off.
Rough idea of route.