3 peaks, 2 lakes (Watersprite and Martin) and 1 day of exploring a very scenic area.
Vlad on Washburn Peak with Mamquam Mountain at rear.
At the parking lot we bumped into Dane who was heading for Martin Peak. Off he went as we got ready then up the old road we go to the Watersprite Lake Trail. Still some boggy sections but the trailbed is very distinct now which attests to the growing popularity of this trail over the past year or two. A new trail will replace this one in the near future as even with the dry weather of late there are still plenty of boggy sections.
Beyond there and ascending through the forest near the upper boulder field (still with some muddy sections) I was below Vlad when glancing to my left I see a bunch of wasps bubbling out of a log. I yelled "wasps - go, go, go!" and we did. No stings and about 20m beyond we see a yellow bag tied to a tree which may indicate the nest. In the boulder field we met a man and his young daughter who had camped out. We had a good chat and informed them of the nest before continuing on to Watersprite Lake where some tents were set up.
Continuing on past the lake we aimed for the ramp I used last year (Epiphone and Fender Peaks trip) that ascends beneath the southern side of Watersprite Tower, pausing part way up on a bluff to take a break and enjoy a nice view back to the lake. After that we continue up the ramp which still has a fair amount of snow in it up to the divide between Watersprite and Martin Creek Valleys.
Vlad on the snow with a view down to Watersprite Lake and beyond to the Tantalus Range.
Upon the divide we head south then scramble up the northeastern ridge of Gibson to the summit. Different approach for me as I went up the western ridge 5 years ago and it's the first time up here for Vlad. During the approach from the lake we'd seen a couple of people near Martin Peak and Dane in the bowl below it.
Looking up the northwest ridge of Gibson from the divide.
We settle in for a summit stay as some cloud builds up and puts us in its shadow. From the west ridge Dane suddenly appears so we hang out and talk about the area for a bit along with inviting him to come with us further afield. He had to be back in Squamish by 5pm though so he would head over to Martin Peak then out.
Gibson Peak Summit (1888m) Shot - me, Dane and Vlad.
Zoom over the top of the Alpen area to Sheer, Sky Pilot and Habrich. The new logging roads ending below "Split Peak" (Alpen South Peak) would give very quick access to the area but I read that a bridge quite far down has been removed.
Vlad and I discussed the best way to get to Martin Lake and decided to try the easy going south side of Gibson to start. After saying goodbye to Dane we followed heathered slopes down to a bench with a small tarn then entered a gully that dropped down to the lake. Not bad to start but things soon got steep with cliff bands on either side. After an easy chockstone, slopes on our left became forested and we got to a drop-off in the gully.
Fender Peak in the distance with Martin Lake below.
I pulled out the rope and wrapped it around a tree then dropped a little to see how things looked. An overhang in the gully and sheer rock on either side so we decided to go back up a bit then traverse through the trees instead. This went well and we soon got to within view of the broad grassy slope that comes off the southeastern side of Gibson. I pulled out the rope again for another rocky section and whilst untangling it Vlad found a good way down so I packed it away and we were soon at the slope and heading down to Martin Lake.
Vlad, the rocky section, grassy slope and Martin Lake.
Heading down to the lake.
Reaching the lake we contour around to near the outflow and relax in the heather for a while. Just beyond the outflow a nice looking ramp heads up Washburn which featured a mix of greenery and talus. I had thought about a swim in the lake but with plenty of cloud around didn't bother.
Vlad relaxes by Martin Lake.
We cross the outflow then start up the ramp - good travelling at a steady grade. This got us into a bowl beneath the peak and we turn left and ascend up to a shoulder on Washburn's north ridge at around 1700m elevation.
Gibson at left, Epiphone on the right with Martin Lake below and a smaller tarn above it (which is below it in the photograph).
What comes next.
A short scree gully or good rock is the next step then there's a choice of more rock or heathered side-hilling followed by easy going scrambling to the subpeak. This we bypass on the left, drop into a small notch then scramble up to the summit. Some flying ants around along with the clouds but the views are good and the sun was always shining on Mamquam.
Martin far left, then Gibson and Epiphone with Mamquam behind it. Garibaldi rear left and Dreadnought (shadowed) and Crawford (far right) visible too.
Old Pierre area to the east.
Pinecone, Seed and Meslilloet (at rear) across the Crawford Creek Valley to the south.
And a view towards familiar Howe Sound East peaks along with Bagpipe and Ben Lomond. The nearer/lower peaks are Clarion and Wesel (a nice hike from near the end of Mamquam River FSR).
Down the Mamquam River Valley towards Squamish. If the roads nearby weren't so overgrown they would make a visit to Martin Lake quite easy.
1830m summit shot.
Phone service for me (on Bell) had been good most of the day and I even had a signal for a short while at Watersprite Lake but Vlad on Rogers only did well whilst on the peaks. Bell did the Sea to Sky cell service upgrades for the Olympics and based on my experience on various peaks up and down that corridor they did a good job.
We retraced our steps back down to the shoulder where Vlad had his eye on a loose gully that would allow a variance on the return. I wasn't too sure as I was only in trail shoes but after he got down part way and said things weren't too bad I followed. Things were okay but care was taken to not dislodge rocks and there was a bit of a downclimb where things pinched in a little. This put us just above the tarn (in one of the pictures above). From here we traversed over, passing above Martin Lake then descended a little more before getting into a boulder fan that would become another gully.
The shoulder area on the right with the gully coming down it's left side to the bowl and tarn (out of picture right) below.
Passing above Martin Lake with Gibson Peak above. We traversed from the gully (roughly upper centre left side) over to the mid point of the grassy slope then down.
More pleasant travelling on heather then mostly boulders/talus as we ascend back to the Watersprite/Martin Divide. From the divide where we gained it earlier in the day it is possible to follow a large boulder gully all the way down to Martin Lake. We weren't in that gully though but closer to the slopes of Epiphone. Our smaller gully started to pinch in and we followed ledges for a bit until things got too bushy and we were forced into our only bushwack of the day. Not much of one, just a short dense patch of small trees to pull up to and through.
Above that and back to boulders and heather. Our up and down routes on Washburn visible.
By now we were both in need of a drink but chose to get somewhere before stopping. I get to a low point on a ridgeline and get momentarily confused as there's a snowfield going down the other side. Vlad shows up and after I got Fender and Epiphone mixed up we got things sorted and I tell him it's not much more than 5 minutes from here to Epiphone's peak.
This was worth the quick detour as the clouds had thinned out from earlier and the lower sun made for better views (and photos). We didn't spend much time up there, just took some pictures then headed back down.
Mamquam Massif with Crawford on the right.
Dreadnought near with Darling, Delusion(s) and Mamquam.
From below Epiphone we made our way back to the Watersprite/Martin Creek Valleys Divide where gained earlier in the day then slid down on snow slopes or boulder hopped down to near Watersprite Lake and a creek where we drank a lot of water and had some more food. Someone was having a snooze in a tent as we continued on to the lake then back to the trail on the other side where we chatted with a couple of other campers before heading down the trail. We spot the yellow bag indicating the wasp nest and go off trail to bypass it. One boggy section nearly sucked off my shoe and there were a few areas with juicy huckleberries.
Down the old road and back to the vehicle near sundown for just over 12 hours car to car and the beer went down well as the sky put on a bit of a show at dusk.
Sundown over the southern Tantalus Range. Alpha the pyramid shaped peak on the right.
Map of area and rough idea of routes.
Note that on some maps Gibson Peak is labeled as Martin Peak.