This trip was initially intended to be a traverse from Widgeon Lake to Darling Lake with DanielJ, however, due to an injury in my foot we ended the trip in the Mamquam Valley, exiting out via Mamquam Pass and the heinous E-100 FSR into the valley. Despite the abrupt end and bad weather near the end, this trip was highly successful and a great adventure close to Vancouver.
Hopefully when my foot heals later in the summer Dan and I will attempt the northern part of the traverse, from Pinecone Lake to Darling Lake.
I took quite a few photos and it was hard to narrow it down so it will come in two parts.
Part 1: Widgeon Lake to "Upper Coquitlam Lake"
Day 1: Peneplain
We got dropped at the east end of Widgeon Lake at 930 on Saturday June 4. Within the first hour we would be off course and Dan made our first and only rappel of the trip. We took the wrong drainage from the lake and battled our way back to the proper route where we were greeted by a black bear and a massive waterfall pouring over raw granite slabs.
Once back on track we battled to the south ridge of Peneplain with 8 days worth of food in our bags. We were travelling fairly light so both bags came under 40 lbs. but it was still a struggle to gain the alpine. Sketchy scrambling and steep rotten snow brought us up to the south sub peak of Peneplain and then some stiff 3rd class scrambling brought us to the summit, around 7 hours after leaving the lake.
View of Widgeon from the summit of Peneplain.
I napped on the summit only to be awoken by the constant buzz of helicopters. We left the summit around 5PM, dropping down the west side and then traversing to the north ridge.
Dan descending the north ridge from the summit.
We followed this broken ridge (a common them in this area) to a 1600m knoll NW of Widgeon Lake where we made our first camp.
Sunset over Peneplain and Coquitlam from camp.
The classic Howay and RR shot at sunset, this time just a bit closer.
The Five Fingers Group from camp.
I slept under a massive gnarled krumholtz that must have been ancient, and Dan slept on a heather bench under the stars. A great first day and night on the divide.
Day 2: Sharkfin to Consolation Dome
We wake early with the sun and eat some breakfast. For some reason I cant do oatmeal anymore, even when it is 50% brown sugar, pecans, and chocolate. Anyway, we head out to the peak to our east and directly north of the lake in search of some views and a wreckage we heard rumours of. We got grand views of Golden Ears peaks and Pitt Lake, but the wreckage was still under plenty of snow.
Views down to Pitt Lake.
We did stumble upon a neat old prospecting camp under a large boulder. They had built up some small rockwalls and shovels, picks, and pans were left resting behind.
We found this hiding under another large boulder atop a knoll on the ridge. (Add that to the 4 balloons we found on the trip!)
We returned to our bags and began our day moving along the ridge. What appeared from a distance to be troublesome snow slopes below the Sharkfin were easily bypassed along heather ramps at there base.
Traversing snow just past the Sharkfin.
We bypassed the Sharkfin and hiked instead to the highpoint of the ridge for some views of the peak. Bivouac incorrectly lists this highpoint as the summit of Sharkfin (I think). From here we continued up and down, traversing snow slopes, passing numerous frozen lakes, arriving at the base of Obelisk Peak.
Dan along the ridge.
Below Obelisk Peak.
We climbed easy snow slopes and rock to the summit for great views of the divide and the Five Fingers Group to the north.
We left the summit and took a break at the bags. We finally dragged ourselves up and made the final drop and climb to Consolation Dome where we made our second camp.
We pitched Dan’s tarp for some shade on an outcrop south of the summit, where we rested and feasted for a bit. Views over to the Five Fingers were superb, and looked like a great objective for tomorrow.
Hiding from the sun atop Consolation Dome.
Dan on top of the Dome checking out tomorrow's route.
After lounging for a bit we headed over to Mount Lou. It was a quick scramble and some snow climbing to reach the still heavily corniced summit. I was hoping to find the old summit register on the peak but it was still buried under the heavy snow pack.
Heading to the summit with Coquitlam Mtn and Peneplain back right.
On the summit of Mount Lou looking east. Consolation Dome on the left and Coquitlam Lake on the right.
Five Fingers Group from Mount Lou. Our route takes that beautiful snow ramp below the Fore Finger.
We returned to camp and enjoyed another spectacular sunset over Garibaldi and Mamquam Massifs and peaks stretching from Mount Pitt to Robie Reid and the northern Cascades.
Looking back on our route from camp 2 at sunset.
Sunset over the Tantalus, Garibaldi, Mamquam and the northern stretches of our intended route.
Cool clouds and evening light on Judge Howay.
Sunset on Garibaldi and Mamquam.
Day 3: Five Fingers Group
We packed up our camp early and headed up and over Consolation Dome, dropping down on a perfect snow ramp below The Fore Finger. Here we left our bags and geared up to climb the peak. We startled a family of psychotic goats, with a very young kid, who struggled to keep up to its parents as they climbed vertically away from us. We climbed The Fore Finger and Dan climbed the small sub summit just south of the peak. I dubbed it The Wart. The views of Middle Finger were great, but unfortunately we could not drop down to the col to reach the SW ridge.
Dan scopes out the potential route to the col.
We returned to our bags and dropped around the north side of the Fore Finger. We dropped our bags again and climbed low angle snow to the Middle Finger-Fore Finger col. We saw the goats again here, dragging their kid up a crack in the NW Face of the Middle Finger. An initially bushy scramble led to fine rock and heather ledges to an awesome summit!
Standing on the summit of Middle Finger!
We found a BCMC register on the summit with one entry from 2009. There was an old compass on the summit as well.
View of Pitt Lake from the summit. The Thumb is in the foreground.
We hung out here for a while and then began the descent to our bags.
Back at the bags, the same family of goats entertained us on another ledge as we snacked on salami and cheese. The kid was unsuccessfully trying to get up off a ledge for more than 20 minutes. Unfortunately they were too far away to get any decent photos. We packed up and headed off and I still don’t know if that kid got off that ledge…I hope our presence did not disturb them too much.
We were aiming to reach the lake we had named “Upper Coquitlam Lake” for our third camp so we packed up and headed north down the divide.
Dan enroute following the Five Fingers section. We took the snow ramp down just right of the Fore Finger (double summit). We had to loop around and up to the MF/FF col to reach the Middle Finger's SW ridge.
We headed up and down over three substantial sub –peaks along the ridge and past numerous lakes and waterfalls. The route was often bushy and cliffed out easily but we reached the lake by 730 PM.
One last close view of the Five Fingers from the sub-alpine before we dropped down thick forest to the low point of our trip.
The old growth was fantastic, but the bush took a while to warm too. I took a dip in the lake and we cooked up some dinner. I pitched my tent for the first time this night as we were expecting a bit of bad weather, although none would come for a few days.
This lake was our low point and represented our exit from the northern Coquitlam – Pitt Divide. We were now venturing into the alpine of Bonnycaslte and Meslilloet Mountains and onto the headwaters of the Mamquam River.
A great exploration of the northern section of the Coquitlam-Pitt Divide, managing to climb six peaks along the way.