S2S = Sea to Sky Saxifrage Mountain & Cassiope Peak Aug 5-6th 2017 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
 
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Default Saxifrage Mountain & Cassiope Peak Aug 5-6th 2017

I’ve just returned from a weekend trip up Saxifrage and Cassiope. For those that have trouble finding Spetch Cr FSR which is unsigned, the turn is approx. 12.7km after crossing the train tracks at the North end of Mt.Currie. The road is currently in excellent condition, and all but the most incompetent of drivers with 2wd can easily get to the trailhead which is no longer at the end of the road. The trailhead is marked by a hubcap in the tree and a sign which reads “Active Logging” with “Trail Closed” painted over it. The road now continues past the trailhead (which is a pull out on the right), before crossing a bridge. As it was the weekend, and there was no active work being done I saw no problem using the trails. Besides I was already at the trailhead and any danger is driving the road, which being in such good shape the hauling trucks will be flying down that road on weekdays. They should probably have a sign at the start of the road not once you’ve reached your destination considering where the danger actually lies.

The trail to Valentine lake is distinct and easy to follow with minimal obstacles to go under, over, or around. There are only a couple places in wet section of the meadows where the trail becomes indistinct, but ample flagging will keep you on track. At the lake there is a very new tent pad built, quite large as well. There is also a large metal bin, which is locked and mysterious…

Beyond the lake I saw neither cairns or flagging; either because they were not there or the marked route was not as excellent and easy to travel as the one which I navigated. I was with a young man from work, fit but new to the mountains, and as always my canine companion Frank. With overnight packs we made it to the centre of the col within 5 hours, making a brief stop at the lake.

After setting up camp near a small tarn (which may not last all season) with a excellent view we headed up Saxifrage Mountain. The route is described as having difficult route finding but with Matt’s beta I found no difficulty making my way up with my companion and dog in tow and we made excellent time. We were the first to sign the register this season and enjoyed some leisure on the summit and smoky views before heading back to camp. On the descent I enjoyed some traditional alpine bouldering in my boots as there were irresistible cracks to climb. Overall I found the ascent of Saxifrage to be very enjoyable with fun movements.

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Playwalking on the summit of Saxifrage with Cassiope in the background

After a sleepless and overstimulated night on the col we headed up Cassiope Peak feeling fatigued but motivated. Large amounts of residual snow completely which completely covered parts of the lower route lead to a creative ascent by a route other than suggested. Luckily I have been out in the mountains consistently for the past two months and knew to bring ice axes. This would be my partners first experience with an ice axe as we traversed right from near the base of the ridge across the top of a very steep snow slope. Continuing right we came to a nice slab which took up nearly to the first false summit, from here we were back on route. The ‘slightly exposed’ ridge beyond the second false summit was most excellent, and the short yet steep snow covered ascent beyond to the true summit was a blast. Slow careful movement across exposed snow and pit stops to discuss my decision making process combined with a lack of sleep lead to a nearly 2 hour ascent from the col versus Matt’s 30min suggestion. This is the first time I had ever taken so much longer than quoted, but the way down went much smoother as I lead down a completely different descent on the lower half to avoid re-crossing the exposed snow patch, and so that we could retrieve the satchel my mentoree had dropped down he snow patch and had slid to the bottom (lower than the col).

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Frank and I on the summit of Cassiope with Saxifrage in the background. Sure was glad to have the ice axe

After a leisurely breakfast back at camp we packed up and headed out. Craving fatty food and a solid night sleep we booked it down to the trailhead form camp in 3 hours, stopping only to make water and bathe in the lake.

The smoke may have hidden some of the surely spectacular views but it was a beautiful trip nonetheless. Alpine flowers kept me smiling when the horse flies wouldn’t leave me alone, which was most of the way. I would absolutely revisit this destination both to take a leisurely camp at the lake, and to camp at the col again to explore shorter outlying peaks and enjoy more traditional alpine bouldering.

Now that I have shared my experience and the information of good road conditions and easy trail to the lake I feel obliged to ask all who visit this area to do so with the utmost respect. Please stay on the trail where there is a trail, and avoid making one where there isn’t by dispersal hiking when in groups. Do NOT leave any garbage or food scraps (including spit shells) behind. If there are other parties in the area please respect their solitude by not causing a ruckus and most importantly be grateful for this beautiful Earth by continually refining your life to have less negative impact on the environment and others.

I am new to CT, althoughI have lurked for years. I have written this TR with the purpose of sharing my experience and providing useful information on current conditions in order to help other explorers. Previous to contributing here I would occasionally write trip reports with more story flair on my website www.tidelintoalpine.com. There are other blog entries as well so you will need to sift through for mountain trips. I also frequently post photos on Instagram @tidelintoalpine and @ethicallywild which is a new endeavour to share my passion for foraging by sharing tips, education and ethics along with hosting outings by donation.

I may post more photos here after I have processed them, but the two included in this post will allow you to see the current conditions on both peaks.

Tread lightly and thank you for reading.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 12:22 PM
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An excellent Trip Report from an area which has seen few reports in recent years. Ever since the disappearance from that area, of a young couple, in 2010, there seems to be less use of it. I've hoofed in there a few times since then, more to keep my eyes open for any sign of these folks. Nice to see a good TR, please keep them coming!


I was up there a while back and ran into one of the logging foremen overseeing work in the area. In regards to the 'trail closed' sign I asked him if they had official closure permission from the forest service, which they did not. That said, we always carry a fully programmed 7watt VHF radio with all BC industrial road frequencies programmed into it. I mentioned to this fellow that I called my progress on the radio but heard nothing from his crew. Hopefully they fixed that but I think activity is done with. On the forest service engineering website for the sea-to-sky district there's no notes on Spetch FSR activity

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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by xj6response View Post
we always carry a fully programmed 7watt VHF radio with all BC industrial road frequencies programmed into it. I mentioned to this fellow that I called my progress on the radio but heard nothing from his crew.
The 40 RR channels are for forest service road traffic. Fallers, loaders and the like off the main FSRs often use private channels to avoid cluttering up the RR channels with lots of "back ten feet" "you betcha" back and forth chit chat
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by xj6response View Post
Ever since the disappearance from that area, of a young couple, in 2010, there seems to be less use of it.
I too kept my eyes out, and explained the situation to my partner so that he was aware. Unfortunately we saw no signs. I found the entire time I was there I was scanning the are and observing ALL objective hazards and imagining all possible scenarios where people could disappear. Given that no gear was found I was especially looking for situations that would arise while one was carrying their backpack. My desire to climb both peaks, camp on the col with a nice view and need for water lead me to a location near the middle of the two peaks on the side facing Valentine Lake. On col opposite from camp was a cornice over a decent sized drop. Being hyper aware due this years accident that occurred in the North Shore mountains I am on extreme cornice alert and inspected the suspicious snow patch from rock upon arrival. If one were to walk to the edge of the cornice in these or heavier snow conditions it could collapse and possibly bury victims, if there was lots of heat or rain between the collapse event and the arrival of Search & Rescue the cornice debris could be disguised by a weathered surface. I imagine I am not the first to suspect this scenario, but if I can help it's all I got.

I guess these types of thoughts are why people might avoid the area. I think the only way to go there and not have it one your minds would be to have no idea they disappeared, but with the signs at the lake and at the start of the meadows every visitor knows. There were tracks in the mud from at least one visitor this year, but no sign of them beyond the lake.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by xj6response View Post
On the forest service engineering website for the sea-to-sky district there's no notes on Spetch FSR activity
There was a medic vehicle, and many large pieces of equipment around as well as trees ready to be loaded up and taken out. If it is not active up there they sure left a expensive mess.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 01:46 AM
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Thanks for the TR.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Dru View Post
The 40 RR channels are for forest service road traffic. Fallers, loaders and the like off the main FSRs often use private channels to avoid cluttering up the RR channels with lots of "back ten feet" "you betcha" back and forth chit chat
Spot on. I have a hand held iCom with every industrial frequency as well as the RR's (also my own two Industry Canada private frequencies). I recall the logging crew had posted their frequency and while they did certainly chat, they never called miles or noted departures of their loaded trucks. Kind of a Gyppo operation.

I don't really know if they're still active in there although I've heard their gear is till there. Maybe they have some landing slash piles to burn in the fall or maybe they're down for fire risk

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Last edited by xj6response; 08-09-2017 at 02:02 PM. Reason: missed words
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by WildAmanda View Post
I guess these types of thoughts are why people might avoid the area. I think the only way to go there and not have it one your minds would be to have no idea they disappeared, but with the signs at the lake and at the start of the meadows every visitor knows. There were tracks in the mud from at least one visitor this year, but no sign of them beyond the lake.
Nobody knows what really happened up there. I was involved in SAR events in Bella Coola in the early 90's, one of which was a young couple who disappeared at Monarch icefield/Ape Lake. Total mystery. They were found the next year by a chopper pilot who saw a rope fragment sticking out of a crevasse.

All we can do is keep an eye open for any sign. As for the loggers, I don't know, they may be on heat related summer shut down or just waiting to back in the fall to burn their landing slash piles. At any rate there's no official road or trail closure.

Great TR, please keep them coming!

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2017, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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I guess I better get some pictures up from this trip before I head out for another weekend in the mountains.
Hope you enjoy and get out there for some of your own

EDIT: New here and this did not format as I expected, was really hoping it would show the pictures not link. I'll leave this here until I have time to figure out how to do it better and then will replace with a more visually appealing version.

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223954&thumb=1
The beautiful and tasty camp tarn (may or may not last the season)

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223994&thumb=1
Frank watching Josh make up Saxifrage

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223882&thumb=1
Looking back near the summit of Saxifrage

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223898&thumb=1
Josh signing the summit register on Saxifrage

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223970&thumb=1
[I]Frank enjoying summit treats[I]

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223986&thumb=1
I always get summit kisses from Frank

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223978&thumb=1
This weekend made 20+ scramble summits for this guy, mostly 'moderate' ones

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223890&thumb=1
Behold! A couple little lakes through the smoke

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223962&thumb=1
Some traditional alpine bouldering on the way down Saxifrage

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223946&thumb=1
Starting up Cassiope

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223938&thumb=1
Views back towards Saxifrage from the snow patch traverse

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223930&thumb=1
The summits of Cassiope

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223922&thumb=1
Frank and I descending from the second false summit

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223914&thumb=1
This patch of snow was much steeper than it appears,had to use my axe AND a hand on the snow at the steepest part

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...223906&thumb=1
Frank is always watching to make sure people are safe

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...224050&thumb=1
More summit kisses from Frank

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...224058&thumb=1
Josh on the summit of Cassiope, which is owned by the Koreans??

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...224034&thumb=1
Life on the edge

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...24042&thumb=11
With the world at my feet

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...224026&thumb=1
Is it just me or is camp always a epic mess right before packing up?

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...224018&thumb=1
Josh taking an involuntary nap before heading out

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...224010&thumb=1
Frank just naps at every opportunity, who knows where I will lead him next

https://forums.clubtread.com/attachme...224002&thumb=1
A quick drink at Valentine Lake before leaving

Treat lightly and play safe!
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Last edited by WildAmanda; 08-11-2017 at 02:53 PM.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2017, 03:27 PM
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Wicked pics! Frank looks like an excellent hiking and scrambling partner.

Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2017, 07:23 PM
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Those are nice pictures from a beautiful couple of peaks!
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 08-13-2017, 04:02 AM
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Welcome to CT, it's nice to see some new people putting up TR's! This is a great area for sure!


The photo aspect of the site is super annoying, there's a few threads on how to make it abit easier. Hope you stick with it and look forward to more TR's like this from you.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 03:33 PM
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Tilda Swinton wants to hike with Frank! Maybe we'll meet on a trail someday.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2018, 04:33 AM
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Hi Wild Amanda, I am the mother of Jonathan who went missing in September 2010 with his girlfriend Rachael. I try to find another area where we can search for them and I would like to know the location of the picture #22 . If you have the GPS, it would be very great. In October 2017, the Mountainering team of the RCMP went to search a specific area where they thought Jonathan could have an accident but they did not find anything. I will continue but I have to find area where it could be possible to find something and convince the RCMP to go and search. I don't know what's happened to Jonathan and Rachael but I will not stop searching for them. I read that a hiker found a pack on the mountain but I don't know who it is and if he gave it to Steve. Thank you to all of you who keeps looking for something. Thank you Amanda to tell me where this photo has been taken. Excuse my English, I am a French Canadian from Quebec so very far to be there regularly. Thank you again.
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