High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Richmond, BC, Canada.
Smoked out: Outram - Manson - Johnson loop
After sitting out 3 weeks of nice weather, the stars have finally aligned and I booked Tuesday off for hiking. Not finding partners for a mid-week hike was a good excuse for an exploration with uncertain outcome. I remember looking at Manson-Outram ridge from Johnson years ago, and Tim's report later confirmed that it is a nice walk.
I found out about the smoke alert in the morning, but it was too late to change the plans, so I decided to see how it goes. Up Outram the usual way. Nice flower display, but smoke everywhere; I'll have to come back for better views. At the top, I looked at the airy traverse beyond the true summit and I was happy with what I saw. Fairly straightforward scramble down the west ridge and I was on the way to Manson. Some impressive gaps in granite ridge along the way. Summit of Manson has some interesting rock features. Spent almost an hour there (I think I got that from Simon).
Another unknown part was dropping down Manson towards Johnson. When I found a sling around the rock shortly after the summit and the ridge dropping steeply off, I thought that would be my turnaround point, but then I decided to have a look couple of metres closer, and it looked fine. Several metres of not-too-exposed downclimb with good holds, and additional traverse along the north ridge got me to the top of promising-looking gully. From the gully I then easily connected with the west ridge and soon was at Manson-Johnson col.
Still had a litre of water left, so I got lazy and opted not to go about 50m down from the col to the lake to refill - mistake. Going up Johnson, the temps were rising and the smoke in my throat didn't help conserve my water either, so I only stayed under 1/2 hr at this summit and after sharing snack break with a swarm of ladybugs I started down towards Sunshine Valley.
I had done that part in 2010 with Chris (CTH, a former frequent contributor on CT who moved south shortly after that) on snow. The last year's summit register note said there is a trail (yay!), even though with heavy blowdown. Indeed, it was correct on both accounts. Because I was running low on water, I just vaguely followed the trail/flagging and didn't waste much time trying to recover it when I had lost it in blowdown (often). Straight down is the way to go.
Refreshed at the creek at the bottom, walking 45min back to the Outram parking lot wasn't too bad. This would have been a great loop in good visibility, but scrambling and exploration elements make it a good option even if you can't see much. And for parties with two cars, currently improved 11-mile creek logging road would make the endpoint there even better option (from Manson, going towards Hatfield instead of Johnson).
Pictures should be named.